In case you've never heard of it, Glens Beach was a swimming beach and amusement resort run by Geo. Glendening that was located behind and to the east of the Coast Guard station on Lakeside Avenue. It consisted of a fine bathing beach, a dance hall, a roller skating rink, a bath house, a dock, a pavilion and a large platform. It was a popular place for picnics and parties, and it became the subject of several Willis Leiter postcards showing Lorainites having a jolly good time.
Two of the Glens Beach real photo postcards that Paula sent featured a haunting image of a pretty, young girl – Bessie Rider of Lorain – posing down at the waterfront in what looks like the off season. Both postcards were postmarked in Lorain on October 1, 1906.
The second postcard (below) shows Bessie in a long shot in which she can be almost overlooked with all of the brush, sticks and driftwood in the foreground. Although her inscription at the top was cut off by the scanner, she says, "I am on this." She then identifies the postcard's subject matter as "View of Lorain Docks from Glens Beach."
I was originally going to use these two postcards as part of a throwaway post – just some filler on a day when I had nothing else to write about. But I was intrigued by the girl. Whatever happened to her? Did she stay in Lorain? What was the McKeesport connection? Did she ever get married?
I knew it was a long-shot that I'd be able to find out much about Bessie Rider. But as you shall see, her story began to slowly unfold in front of me beyond my wildest hopes.