Stay cool, Los Angeles — like the people above in a 1920s-era photo from the Los Angeles Municipal Plunge.

Wherever you go to cool off, you’re unlikely to encounter the swimsuits of the 1920s. The Times reported in July 1920 about a rule requiring women’s swimsuits to have skirts — and not gauzy or see-through skirts neither!

From an article headlined What Ho! Put Skirts on Bathers:

Oh, you film bathing beauties! Likewise, a what ho! or two for the Venice mermaids, also what to tell! This is to warn you that if you would a-bathing go at any of the municipal swimming pools you must leave your gay and abbreviated bathing suits at home, for the Playground Commission, with the Council’s connivance, has issued a Puritan pool edict.

In other words, if you, this is only for feminine ears, would swim anywhere within the purlieus of Los Angeles you must hide your charms with a skirt that isn’t diaphanous.

"Oh, yes," said Supt. Raitt of the Department of Playgrounds, yesterday, "we are turning back young women who would bathe in the city pools in suits that — ah, ahem — we, you know — suits that would be all right perhaps at Venice or Atlantic City but — well, we cannot permit them."

Read the rest of The Times’ story about the "Puritan pool edict."

Matt Ballinger

Photo: Bathers at Los Angeles public swimming pool the Municipal Plunge, circa 1920. Credit: Los Angeles Times / UCLA Library

The Dodgers set a record in San Francisco this weekend — their 17 runs were the most scored by any team, including the Giants, at AT&T Park (formerly known as Pacific Bell Park).

Pacific Bell Park opened in April 2000, and The Times’ Bill Shaikin covered the surrounding buzz:

SAN FRANCISCO — This is a baseball town once again, and not a moment too soon. After two decades of football worship and baseball tolerance, they’re talking baseball here. After two decades of Joe Montana and Steve Young and Jerry Rice, the 49ers are dreadful, just in time for the famously front-running citizens to exclaim, “Hey, how ‘bout them Giants?”

They’re talking baseball here, even investment bankers and dot-com wizards who wouldn’t know Barry Bonds from junk bonds. They’re talking about Pacific Bell Park, the enchanting new home of the Giants, where home runs will splash into San Francisco Bay. After 40 years in the wind tunnel formerly known as Candlestick Park, the Giants finally are blessed with a ballpark worthy of the legacy of Willie Mays and Willie McCovey.

Tickets? Nearly sold out. For the season.

They’re talking baseball here, Giant baseball. Even the Oakland Athletics, who won more games than the Giants last season, are talking Giant baseball.

Read the rest here: Talking Bay Ball (A PDF of the published newspaper page is not available.)

Matt Ballinger

Photo: Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco in April 2000, the month it opened. Credit: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times

This weekend marks the 200th anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner” — the poem written in 1814 that in 1931 became the United States’ official national anthem. 

On March 3, 1931, Congress sent its bill to make the song the official anthem to President Hoover. See The Times’ coverage of that here: National Hymn Bill Approved. Alas, The Times was not around to cover the War of 1812.

Above, that banner yet waves over Griffith Park in 1934.

And for more history about “The Star-Spangled Banner,” read staff writer Michael Muskal: 'Star-Spangled Banner': Anthem was once a song of drinking and sex

Matt Ballinger

Photo: Dr. Frederick C. Leonard speaks at the dedication ceremony for the Astronomers Monument at Griffith Park, Los Angeles, 1934. Credit: Los Angeles Times / UCLA Library

The Times’ obituary of Joan Rivers, who died Thursday at age 81, leads with a crucial moment in her career.

In 1986, Joan Rivers made a fateful call to her mentor Johnny Carson.

Rivers, the brassy comic with the thick New York accent who had made “Can we talk?” her catchphrase, told the all-powerful host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” that she was giving up a role as his handpicked heir to do her own show on Fox.

It was, depending on how one looked at it, a bold bid for bigger stardom — or a stunning act of betrayal. Carson’s reaction was unambiguous. According to Rivers, he hung up on her — twice — and never spoke to her again in the remaining 19 years of his life.

The Times’ report from 1986 (Rivers Set to Host Late-Night Show on Murdoch’s Independent Network) recounts those events a little differently, through a slightly more circumspect spokesman.

While Carson had no immediate comment on Rivers’ move, a spokesman for Carson said that the late-night talk-show king “was shocked and surprised to learn of it through a press release.” Rivers, at the press conference, said that she had placed two calls to Carson and that neither was returned.

The spokesman, Jim Mahoney, said that Rivers had been negotiating with Carson’s production company for a new contract and that when she appeared on the show last week “not a word was said” about her plans to work elsewhere.

"It came as a real surprise. It’s an unusual way to to business, to say the least," Mahoney added.

More on Rivers: Joan Rivers | 1933 - 2014

Matt Ballinger

Photo: Fox Chairman Barry Diller with Joan Rivers at a press conference. Published in The Times May 7, 1986. Credit: Con Keyes / Los Angeles Times

The planned downtown L.A. streetcar is back in the news (Downtown L.A. streetcar line cost estimate is shaved by $55 million, by Laura J. Nelson).

Of course, Los Angeles and environs had an extensive network of streetcars — the Los Angeles Railway and the Pacific Electric red cars — until the early 1960s. Others have thoroughly explored the demise of the streetcars, including former Times staff writer Cecilia Rasumusen in this excellent 2003 report: Did Auto, Oil Conspiracy Put the Brakes on Trolleys?

So let’s look at two specific moments in streetcar history.

First is in 1948, seen above, when the Los Angeles Railway’s V line was curtailed to make way for the 101 Freeway. From a story headlined Pavement and Earth Torn Up as Freeway Hits Vermont Ave.:

The first step in removal of the segment of the avenue was uprooting of the streetcar rails. A huge compressed air hammer with its own motive power was lustily thumping the asphalt street surface. Then crews of gandy-dancers raised the rails along with their wooden ties preparatory to removing them.

Bulldozer pilots dragged the huge rippers back and forth across the sidewalks, tearing loose huge chunks. Next would come the bucket cranes, scooping up the debris and dropping it into dump trucks for removal to earthfills elsewhere along the freeway route.

Note for word nerds: “Gandy dancer” is an old slang term for a worker on a railroad gang. Webster’s says the term probably arose because of workers’ “movements while using tools from the Gandy Manufacturing Co.”

Next is March 1963. Deep in Section H of the Sunday Times was a five-paragraph report: Streetcars Go for Last Ride.

The Los Angeles area loses its streetcars and trolley coaches today.

A fixture for many years, the streetcars will be taken out of service when a V line car completes its final run at 6:04 a.m. at the Georgia St. barns.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority, counting on substantial operating savings with its changeover to an all-bus system, is retiring 162 streetcars and 89 trackless trolleys.

They are being replaced by 300 new Silverliner busses, costing $8,193,511.

Read both stories by clicking here.

— Matt Ballinger

Original published photo caption, Sept. 24, 1948: DERAILED — Wrecking crew pictured yesterday tearing out Vermont Ave. streetcar tracks with mammoth jacks. Credit: Los Angeles Times / UCLA Library

"There must have been 50,000 marchers" in the 1937 Labor Day parade in downtown Los Angeles, according to Secretary J. W. Buzzell of Central Labor Council.

For years, major parades were held in downtown L.A. to mark the holiday. See some of them here, and read more about 1937’s celebration.

Photo: Los Angeles Times archive / UCLA

The Los Angeles County Fair opened today. The Times’ Scott Harrison has a roundup of photos from years past.

More from The Times: New shade areas may be hot attraction at L.A. County Fair

Photo: Queen DiAnn Lawson waves her scepter urging all to come to the fair. Her court poses behind her, from left: Joyce Stevens, Deanne Bowler, Ann Fuhrman, Sharon Tennyson, Carol Taylor and Gail Brooker. This photo was published on Sept. 13, 1963. Credit: John Malmin / Los Angeles Times 

"Mary Poppins" began its "regular engagement" at the Chinese Theater 50 years ago today. When The Times reviewed it (earlier in August of 1964), Philip K. Scheuer wrote:

"Mary Poppins" is the complete fantasy. It will amaze and delight more people than you can count, and I imagine quite a lot of them won’t be kids, either. I must admit that it entertained me most of the time, but I must add that I am something of a square: It also discombobulated me.

Scheuer goes on to explain that the fantastical elements — the fact that in the film “reality is nearly nonexistent” — weren’t to his liking. 

But soon we become conscious that the feats the dancers are performing are plainly beyond human ability to accomplish. And “Oh!” we say. “Trick stuff.” In direct ratio then, our admiration for the skill of the dancers as dancers (despite its having been considerable) is dissipated in a more routine respect for what the special-effects men can do.

That seems to rather miss the point of a movie that pairs Dick Van Dyke with dancing penguins. But Scheuer has a lovely turn when he addresses the stars, Van Dyke and Julie Andrews.

It is the first movie role for Miss Andrews of the stage’s “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot,” and she plays it coyly and captivatingly. Her singing voice, of course, is liquid sweetness. And she swings a wicked soft shoe. Paired happily with her (no romance, you know, but the two seem to share a winking secret) is Dick Van Dyke as Bert, who shows up in various guises — a street musician, a chalk-pavement artist, a sport, a chimney sweep and a surprise character — without any explanation. What they have in common are Dick Van Dyke and a cockney accent.

Read the rest here: Disney Fantasy Film — Amazement and Delight, Even for Grownups, Squares (1964, “Mary Poppins” review in the Los Angeles Times)

That singing voice of “liquid sweetness” helped Andrews win the Oscar for best actress at the 37th Academy Awards — Andrews is seen above with Audrey Hepburn, who starred in 1964’s best picture, “My Fair Lady.”

Matt Ballinger

Original published caption, April 6, 1965: TWO ‘FAIR LADIES’ — Audrey Hepburn, the film’s “My Fair Lady,” congratulates Julie Andrews, right, star of the stage version, on winning the best actress for her performance in film “Mary Poppins.” Credit: Los Angeles Times

Do not miss Scott Harrison’s post about Los Angeles’ Watson family. 

Salvation Army minister and photo hobbyist James Watson migrated to Los Angeles in 1900. Two sons, six grandsons and one great-grandson continued in photography. All 10 Watson photographers are represented in the new gallery show “LA Stories: 100 Years of Watson Family Press Photography.”

The show opened last night at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. More info here: Fathom Gallery.

Original published caption, April 7, 1978:

WORLD’S BIGGEST — Rightly named the Colossus, this granddaddy of all roller coasters is nearing completion at the Magic Mountain amusement park at Valencia. Scheduled to open in middle or late May, it will be the longest, tallest and fastest such ride anywhere, with two steep falls of more than 100 feet. It is being built entirely of wood, including the side-by-side tracks on which cars will cover 1.75 miles at more than 60 m.p.h. The huge structure, more than 150 feet tall and 1,068 feet long, is being built in three sections that gradually are growing closer to one another. Credit: Joe Kennedy / Los Angeles Times

If you’ve never had the chance to ride Colossus between 1978 and now, you’d better get yourself to Valencia. The famous roller coaster at Magic Mountain is closing Saturday (representatives of the park are so far mum about their plans for the ride).

The Times’ Hugo Martín has more: Six Flags’ Colossus wood coaster to close Saturday

Matt Ballinger