Friday Flashback #191

Over 100 years ago, the world was embroiled in war. Still — like us, 4 months ago in December — no one had any idea what lay ahead.

Seth VanBeever is a 4th-generation Westporter. In 1916 and ’17, his great-grandfather was diligently making payments to his Christmas Club account.

What’s a Christmas Club? It’s an account customers pay into weekly, to have enough money in December for presents. They’re still around, amazingly.)

Also in 1916, Seth’s great-grandfather plunked down $5 for a summer bathhouse at Compo Beach.

If all you know about those bathhouses are the current wooden ones by the pavilion, think again.

Here’s a photo shared on Facebook by Maureen Driscoll of her relatives, circa 1931. The bathhouse — in the background — looks pretty grand.

Here are other views, from other years:


The 2020 bathhouses cost a lot more than they did in 1916. Hey — you should put your money in a Bathhouse Club!

3 responses to “Friday Flashback #191

  1. Peter Barlow

    I don’t remember that Christmas Clubs paid any interest – you just got back your own money that you would have spent earlier.

    The “pavilion” seen above the bathhouses is the same structure that is now at ground level. It was saved after the 1950 hurricane. My recollection of the wooden bathhouses is that they were kind of dank. The brick bathhouses were considered “classier.”

  2. Dick Seclow

    Christmas Clubs were an early move to attract depositors. They were successful because banks knew people were likely to spend money in regular accounts but not in the specialty designated Christmas account.
    The accounts paid little or no interest. Some banks fined a depositor for withdrawing money before Christmas. I recall that banks had to pay the originator of the idea for using the name Christmas Club.

  3. James H. Gray

    As I recall, Christmas Club Accounts required that you make 49 payments and they gave you the 50th on “for free.”