The Few, the Proud, the Totally Chill: In Praise of Old-School Beach Bums

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In February 1950, LIFE published a feature on what the magazine called "the gold-bricking existence" of ski bums at Sun Valley, Idaho. Eight months later, the magazine published a follow-up under the wonderful title, "LIFE Revisits the Ski Bums (and Finds They Are Now Beach Bums)."

"Photographer Loomis Dean," LIFE told its readers, "looked up his cold-weather friends and found them still leading a bum's life."

In May, as soon as the snow gets soft, the bums begin to migrate. They head first for their parents' homes where they drop off their skis and pick up their brightly colored, 15-foot-long surfboards. Then they make for the beach [where they] spend every minute they can surfboarding, sunning, guzzling beer, making friends with people who come down to be weekend beach bums. . . . If war does not catch up with them one way or another, the bums expect to be back at Sun Valley by November.

On Labor Day weekend, in tribute to those rare individuals self-assured enough to scoff at societal expectations and embrace their inner bum, recalls the few, the proud, the winningly feckless.

[See the gallery, "LIFE With Old-School Beach Bums."]

Ben Cosgrove is the editor of Picture This is his weekly (and occasionally more frequent) feature for The Stacks.

Photo: Loomis Dean—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images