Exhuming the Morgue: Skinnydipping 1977

This article and cartoon appeared on page 2 of the Sept. 12, 1977 Athens 'A' News.

"Exhuming the Morgue" is a new feature where we take advantage of the nearly 38 years of local newspaper history that's contained in our bound volumes of back issues of The Athens NEWS.

Though incomplete in the early years, our bound volumes are a treasure trove of modern Athens city and county history. The volumes, usually bound into two or three books per year, contain complete issues of The Athens NEWS, spanning the time between the paper's launch as The Athens "A" News in 1977 to the present.

In "Exhuming the Morgue," we are featuring scans of pages or partial pages capturing an interesting news event from the '70s, '80s or '90s. We add perspective and at times commentary, and when appropriate juxtapose the vintage photo/scan with a similar modern news event. We hope you enjoy!

Our "Morgue" today references an Athens NEWS classic - or to be more accurate, The Athens 'A' News. In the very early issues of The 'A' News, the paper featured at least two exposés (sorry, couldn't resist) of area skinny-dipping holes. Back in the glorious '60s and '70s, swimming naked in natural ponds, creeks and strip-mine impoundments was a popular avocation among local college students and residents. If anyone ever wore a swimsuit, I sure never noticed.

Skinny-dippers jealously guarded directions to these skinny-dipping holes, since most were located on private property and nobody wanted the sheriff's office to catch wind of what was going on (skinny-dipping usually went hand in hand with dope and beer or wine).

The drawing and short article on this page (appearing in the Sept. 12, 1977 edition) discusses the mixed reaction to the Skinny-Dippers Guide that appeared in The 'A' News' third edition the previous spring. As it turns out, some local skinny-dippers never forgave The 'A' News or its publisher for revealing the locations of popular skinny-dipping holes.

AN OU SENIOR WHEN THE first skinny-dipping guide was published, I was, ahem, familiar with the skinny-dipping pastime, and especially remember one excursion to a swimming hole near Shade (or maybe Pageville?). When my friends and I showed up, we were disappointed to learn that had the place to ourselves. We weren't happy about that, since, of course, the main reason to go skinny-dipping is to appreciate the naked beauty of fellow skinny-dippers (in our case, those would be females).

We swam for a while, drank a few beers, then decided to leave. Right at that moment, four female students whom we had been admiring all school year in Jefferson dining hall (but had been too shy to actually meet or talk to) arrived. So we looked at one another, and by silent agreement decided to stay. The young women looked at us skeptically, looked at one another, and by similar silent agreement, decided to hold off on doffing their clothes.

It was basically a Mexican standoff for the next hour and a half, and we finally gave up and left.

It beats me why the only skinny-dipping excursion I can remember is the one where basically nothing happened. - Terry Smith

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