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Great Moments in Recent Nudist History


One of the least known but one of the more interesting battles during the Civil War happened at Boon's Mill Pond, North Carolina on July 28, 1863, reports AAA's GO magazine. The periodical says that a battle in North Carolina was not unusual, but this particular battle was fought in the nude and called the "Battle of the Buck Nekkids." This small battle saved Robert E. Lee's exhausted Army of Northern Virginia on their way back from Gettysburg.

The Battle of the Buck Nekkids began when the Confederates were skinny-dipping in the pond to escape the sweltering July heat. While swimming, the men heard their commander shout and saw Yankee cavalry bearing down on them.

They didn't take the time to put their clothes back on before grabbing their weapons to resist enemy attack. After a few hours, the Yankees retreated after determining that the only way through the swampy area to was to head straight into Confederate fire. Today, the millpond serves as a commemoration of the skirmish with a Civil War Trails sign describing the action of the day.



11/27/1917, Los Angeles, California – The headline in the Los Angeles Times read: "White Bathing Suits Taboo," after a teenager was arrested on the sands in Long Beach.

" 'It's a violation of the city ordinance to wear white bathing suits on this beach,' was the comment of a police officer today as he ordered Miss Marion Williams, 17 years old, to quit the surf and accompany him to police headquarters. 'Your suit is too closefitting and white is too realistic, and there's not enough of it at either the top or bottom,' was the officer's further comment as he marched the young lady off to the police station," the Times reported.

The Times article concluded with, "The young lady donned a cloak which … enshrouded her graceful figure, and accompanied the officer as ordered, while the other bathers on the beach gave vent to their indignation."

Photo at ledt shows a typical bathing suit worn in 1917. Black was one of only a few “approved” colors in those days. Cartoon below shows how far we have progressed since 1917:


08/04/1925, Los Angeles, CA – The Police Commission was considering revoking the license of a dance hall on South Hope Street after hearing testimony about rowdy behavior there.

Three residents of an apartment house sharing an alley with the dance hall said "they had seen girls and men drunk in the alley and passing in and out of the hall." One apartment dweller "refused to repeat before the commission some language she stated she heard a couple use when she reproached them for their remarks under their window," the L.A. Times reported. Patrolman Edward Caslin testified that he had seen the 'shimmy' performed in the dance hall," the newspaper said.

When Caslin was questioned about whether he might have seen people dancing the Charleston instead, one of the police commissioners replied: "What difference does it make if it were the shimmy or the Charleston, provided it was indecent?"


Cassino, Italy – Italy’s first nudist colony has been stoned from its elysian fields by a mob of outraged peasants. More than 40 angry and indignant field laborers, armed with pitchforks, horsewhips, and similar implements entered the naturist colony in the Albaneta hills near Cassino, and chased the sportive nymphs of the nudist camp from their sylvan haunts.

Both men and women wearing only loincloths were among those routed by the peasant mob. Leaders of the clothesless cult attempted to argue with the invaders but the shocked men of the soil would brook no justification for such frolics, and replied with a barrage of stone. Several of the wood nymphs were bruised in the mélée that followed.

The Cassino camp has been reputed to be the most advanced naturist colony in Italy, measured by the scantiness of the clothes worn by members.

This story above was published in the International Herald Tribune August 1, 2006.

Editor’s note: the entire Cassino area was destroyed to the ground during a famous World War II battle in 1943. Since then, other nudist parks have returned to Italy, and with far more peaceful neighbors!


Galesburg, Illinois, has been blessed with a multitude of semi-pro baseball teams that consequently attracted a colorful array of barnstorming opponents. Many of the outstanding teams from the Negro Baseball circuit, including the likes of Satchel Paige, have entertained area baseball fans.

Undoubtedly, the most unusual opponent to visit local ball fields was The Mahatma Gandhi Nudists traveling baseball team from Hollywood, Calif., that attracted much attention in the summer of 1934. The actual game with Johnny Johnson's Galesburg Merchants was played on July 4th at the Lincoln Park complex. Needless to say, the Nudists had become one of the best drawing cards barnstorming across the country. They established themselves as both entertaining and skilled at America's pastime. Their record was nearly unblemished against some of the best hometown teams in their trek across the country.

The standard wearing apparel for the visiting men and women was shoes, caps and whatever the local laws deemed necessary. The California Nudists indicated that whatever clothing was necessary was not a handicap. Their appearances were preceded by much anticipation; however, their ability to play the game was the main attraction in most instances.

Amid much curious anticipation the actual game went off before hundreds of spectators on a sunny July 4th afternoon at Lincoln Park. The game was packed with excitement and dominated by superb pitching and sensational fielding.

Neither team had much luck at the plate, and scoring was held to a premium. Eventually the Galesburg Merchants, led by the outstanding pitching of Bill Anderson, outlucked the scantily clad Mahatma Gandhi Nudists by a 2-0 score.

The female department of Gandhi's sun-worshipers consisted of a lone representative who was described as knowing as much about baseball as the newspaper's society editor. The young lady, named Zenda, was stationed in right field for two innings. She retired to the visitors dugout after batting and spent the afternoon applying sun tan lotion and posing for gawking fans.

The eventual absence of the female performer didn't result in much criticism, as the sparkling performance of both teams created enough excitement to satisfy almost everyone partaking of the spectacle.

Tom Wilson is a local historian in Galesburg, IL. This story first appeared at:


The original story appeared in Time Magazine on 01/07/1935:

In Manhattan last spring Vincent Burke, director of the Olympian League of Nudists, rented Topel's Swimming School for a nudist assembly, in brazen violation, police suspected, of State laws against lewdness, indecency and nuisances. Two plain clothes detectives (no pun intended), a Detective Barr and a Miss Anna Brady, both gained entry to the event for $1.

In the gymnasium Mr. Barr and Miss Brady saw, they later said, "some ten men without any clothing whatever playing handball, and others tossing a medicine ball. Four women entered the dressing room, removed their clothes, and appeared on the gymnasium floor in the nude."

Frank Maniscalco, physical instructor, called everyone for exercises. A naked old gentleman introduced himself to the disguised police and asked why they did not take off their clothes. Both pleaded bashfulness. Someone gave the policewoman a chair so that she could watch 20 minutes of ordinary calisthenics. After that "both men and women went into the pool entirely unclothed and swam about."

Thereupon the two police officers disclosed their identity and arrested Director Burke, Manager Topel and Instructor Maniscalco for "indecent exposure, openly outraging public decency, maintaining a public nuisance and permitting a building to be used for a nuisance."

A Special Sessions court of three judges found the men guilty, although Chief Justice Frederic Kernochan, old friend and yachting companion of President Roosevelt, argued that exposure of the body might be willful without being lewd. Said Justice Kernochan: "I don't feel that the law at present, enacted a number of years ago, is sufficiently broad enough to render a conviction."

Defendants Burke, Topel and Maniscalco appealed their conviction. Last week the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court declared: "In the light of the testimony adduced we believe that the conclusion reached by the dissenting justice of the Court of Special Sessions was based upon a solid foundation, and the judgment entered should be reversed, the information dismissed and the fine remitted." Crowed Nudist Burke: "The court has declared nudism is legal in New York State and inasmuch as the laws in all the other States are patterned closely after the New York State law, this decision will undoubtedly serve as a model and precedent for the rest of the States."

The nudist decision had immediate effect in Manhattan where seven chorus girls and two managers of a burlesque show were on trial charged with lewdly producing a Hawaiian dance number. As he freed the group, the magistrate declared: "By common acceptance a Hawaiian dance is not an indecent performance. The arresting officer testified that the dance did not arouse lecherous desires. Nudity, partial or complete, is not in itself lewd.''


In 1992 a man began preaching the word of God on public access TV. And he did it naked.

“The Naked Preacher,” as the man has been dubbed since, sparked a controversy over what is and isn’t obscene and what should or shouldn’t be aired on a public access television station. The preacher’s show is being referred to in Bellingham, too, in discussions about what might end up on a potential community access cable channel.

Deborah Vinsel, director of Thurston Community Television, was in charge of three community television channels when an Olympia man approached her with his proposal to air his show. “Jake,” Vinsel recalled his name being, had legally registered his Emerald Forest Nude Life Church with the state of Washington. His programming — one biblical show and another educational show about nudism — aired for about six months, Vinsel said. The programs never aired before 11PM and he aired 11 of his 12 episodes before a local news station did a feature about the broadcast.

People began writing letters over the issue, but “nobody called to complain over shots of women’s breasts on a program about mammograms and breast health,” she said. Vinsel was surprised, she said, when the majority of people who wrote in said they didn’t agree with the programming but that the man had a First Amendment right to air his programs. Olympia’s prosecuting attorney eventually decided the content was not obscene and was “merely indecent,” which would mean it was allowed to air.

After the twelve episodes concluded, Vinsel said the man “disappeared and we never saw him again.”

Source: a story by Sam Taylor in the Bellingham Herald.

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