We would lather up with a mixture of baby oil + iodine which was purported to get you tanned way faster than commercial tanning lotions. And then make sure we spent as much time frying our fronts as our backs and seeing that bathing suit lines were obscured as much as possible. I had fair skin so I usually burned but with effort, I could get a good tan by September.
Sun block? Why in godsname would you even want to do something like that??? That's nuts.
I heard about sun block maybe 25 years ago but only for little kids. I don't think I ever used any myself until a few years ago. Of course, I try to avoid the sun at all costs so it's not something I need often. And I don't know squat about all the different kinds.
My insurance affords me $50 in over the counter stuff every quarter and they carry one kind of each of the usual suspects (imodium, cold stuff, aspirin, etc). They had one kind of sun block and I ordered it.
It stinks. That is to say I find the smell icky but the woman next to at the game, as I slathered it on, remarked 'oh I just love the smell of sun block - it just says summer to me!' So, whatever.
Anyway, the point of this entry (and damn time I got there, amirite?) is how shocked I am at how good it works. I slathered it on when I first went out to my seat and sat there, in the sun for 2+ hours and have no sign on my skin that I wasn't inside with the shades drawn. Amazing. Smelly, but amazing.