It’s summer in Richmond and we all know that means humidity and heat but it also offers events, everything from Dogwood Dell to museums, parks and ball games, homemade ice cream and watermelons. But what was it like in the early 1920s? Let’s focus on some of the fun things going on in the summer…circa 1925. My great-grandfather, Harry Stilson, took pictures of summer activities in Richmond and elsewhere. I’ll just share a variety of them and hope you’ll forgive me for not writing something profound and historical. It’s just too hot.

Summer vacations started with loading the car up. Here are the Stilsons’ tenants, Mr. & Mrs. Crawford, leaving on vacation. Their landlord was also their photographer and film developer so I have their pictures in the Stilson collection.

poppy tripDuring one Stilson/Lynch vacation, the family toured Natural Bridge and Endless Caverns.

natural brHarry’s family went to Newport News, Yorktown, Deltaville, and Virginia Beach as often as possible. The Yorktown Ferry was shown in several shots.

ferryThis rowboat scene was interesting because I have both photographs and movie clips of the Stilsons on a fishing boat so that seemed the usual water outing. Maybe finances were tight that trip and a rowboat was all they could afford!

rowboat yorktownBeachwear was a bit different in those days. Harry’s daughter, Anita Lynch (my grandmother) and her brother Don at Virginia Beach:

anita and don beachThe boardwalk at Virginia Beach:

boardwalkHarry at Virginia Beach:

hhs rolling deepWhen you couldn’t get to the beach, Shields Lake offered swimming and other activities. The Dolphins swim team posed here. Perhaps Harry took the shot because two boys on the team were sons of Mr. Hurdle who owned a drugstore at Hancock & Clay in Jackson Ward on Harry’s West Clay Line street car route.

dolphins teamNothing says “summer” like a good hot dog. Harry’s grandchildren, Howard & Norma Kathleen Lynch, and a friend, were relishing these hot dogs (pardon the pun) at Shields Lake.

HDL NKL RCAnd what would summer be without watermelons? No idea who this guy is but he would be my new best friend with those watermelons.

watermelonBaseball was really popular back then. Streetcars advertised “Ballgame today” at Mayo Island but Idlewood Park, near Byrd Park, now lost to the Downtown Expressway and development, had its amateur teams. Harry’s son, Don, was probably on this team:

ballgame idlewoodIf you were more of a homebody, just being outside was a joy. Harry and his wife Mary both loved to garden. In this hand-tinted photograph, Mary Stilson held her grandson, Howard, and neighbor, Virginia Montague.

MPS with HDL & VaIn those days, money was scarce and sometimes you had to create your own entertainment. This last image is one of my favorites. No idea where it was or who they are but it’s sweet, isn’t it?

dancingHopefully these images have created a desire to get out and take advantage of the summer. When you visit some of these places this summer, maybe you’ll recall the way they looked back in Harry Stilson’s time. Our mission at Richmond In Sight ( is to remind you of those days through presentations, books, and this blog. Enjoy it. And enjoy your summer.