As suburban living gained traction, families sought recreational outlets that matched their lifestyles. Enter the affordable backyard wading pool, offering a respite from the heat.
Post-World War II economic growth gave families more discretionary income, coupled with the desire for at-home leisure activities. The plastic kiddie pool was an easy answer. Not only did it offer a convenient way to cool off, but it also acted as a focal point for family gatherings and neighborhood playdates.
Inflatable kiddie pools — often featuring vibrant colors and patterns ranging from playful fish to iconic 1950s and 60s designs — could be easily set up and stored away. The whiff of freshly-inflated vinyl (remember?) became synonymous with summer, as did the giggles and splashes that ensued.
But it wasn’t just inflatable versions that caught parents’ fancy. Hard plastic wading pools were equally popular. Typically molded in bright colors, these sturdy basins provided endless hours of entertainment, and could double as sandboxes. Their durable construction meant they often lasted through several summers, and their lack of required inflation appealed to those seeking a more straightforward setup.
While inflatable pools required a pump or some dedicated lung power to bring to life (and vinyl patches for the inevitable pinhole repairs), the non-inflatable counterpart was ready to go with just a simple fill-up from the garden hose. Parents appreciated the ease, while kids just focused on the fun. Bonus: Grown-ups could use these plastic basins to cool their weary feet in the summertime, and they also worked nicely as dog pools and pet bathtubs.
The evolution of backyard pools didn’t stop there. As the 60s (and beyond) rolled around, innovations continued, and the market saw the introduction of more intricate designs and additional features. Yet, the foundational appeal of these simple plastic wading pools — whether inflatable or hard plastic — remained unchanged.
And perhaps most remarkably, and in spite of the various fancy, yet still inexpensive, kiddie pools available today, there is still a market for the pure, virtually unchanged versions we remember from way back when.
Retro 50s-style yellow blow-up plastic wading pool
Month after month after month… this wading pool stayed outside through sun and storms… withstood roughhouse abuse from healthy youngsters!
Yellow vintage inflatable wading pool for babies & toddlers
Vintage kiddie pools: Oceans of fun… right in your own backyard!
The whole family’s getting in the swim this summer with pools and playthings made of wonder-wearing, waterproof KRENE, Sturdily built for fun and action, they inflate quickly and easily … can be compactly folded for easy packing and winter storage.
Krene identifies the amazing, modern-day material made by Bakelite Company, leader in the industry for 43 years. Every step in its making is carefully controlled to ensure high quality, excellent performance.
LIKE DUCKS TAKE TO WATER! No wonder water playthings made of KRENE are popular as summer itself with boys and girls… even grown-ups!
In sunny colors and bright, imaginative designs, there’s a variety wide enough to appeal to everybody. Watertight and lasting, they resist ripping, cracking and mildew. Each buoyant, bouncy toy is easily and quickly inflated …so compact when folded, you can take it anywhere!
Vintage Doughboy above-ground swimming pools & water toys (1954)
Doughboy water playmates: Inexpensive fun for the whole family
LOOK! DOUGHBOY’S 12 FT. FAMILY POOL. No digging, no installation costs. Large enough for young and old to swim in clean safe water. 1600 gal. capacity, 2 ft. depth. Valves for water circulation. $100. Other Doughboy “Family” Pools from $50 to $175. [Note: These are 1950s prices.]
Tough and terrific… Doughboy… These giant inflatable beach toys are easy to inflate, deflate, carry. And they last and last, because they’re made of rugged FORTI-PLYED Vinylite two layers thick.
Backyard beach with your own wading pool
They’re happy and safe at home, with a sturdy Doughboy inflatable wading pool. It’s easy to inflate, fill and drain, Illustrated: Deluxe 6 ft, Poot (155 gal., 10-in. depth), $15. Other wading pools from 38 in. to 7 ft. Priced from $3 to $30.
Smaller vintage Doughboy inflatable swimming pools
DOUGHBOY POOLS: MAKE YOUR OWN “BACKYARD BEACH”
Inflatable plastic toys and pools are built to last season-after-season with Doughboy’s exclusive Forti-Plyed film (two layers of tough plastic, permanently bonded together) and patented heat-sealed seams. Colors and decorations are part of the plastic — won’t wash or fade out.
Little retro ’50s blow-up pool for preschool-age kids
Air wall baby pool in blue
Also: America’s favorite pool pal & beach buddy: Hampshire’s fabulous Dolphin — weighted bottom makes him float upright, actually makes it look like he’s leaping out of water
Inflatable pools by Hampshire (1969)
Vintage vacuum-formed plastic kiddie pools (not inflatable)
1955’s Swim-A-Rama oval pools (15″ deep)
Swim-A-Rama pool in red & the Carousel pool in blue with merry-go-round horses
Vintage Hampshire vacuum-formed rigid pools and sandboxes (1950s)
NEWEST IDEA IN PLASTIC WADING POOLS!
A sturdy, roomy pool youngsters will be content to play in for hours! Tubular steel frame goes together in minutes without screws or bolts. Heavy-duty pool liner lasts for years; nothing to inflate.
Plenty of fun-filled extras, too: four steel “clip-on” corner seats; die-cast aluminum “shower” attaches to any garden hose; decorated “Waikiki” pattern bottom. See this new type pool at your dealers now. Prices begin at $10.00.
1954’s “Miss Universe”, Miriam Stevenson, wearing new 1955 Catalina bathing suit exclusively created for this photo.