A few weeks ago I was up near the DeForest High School when school was dismissed. As I watched the students flock out, I couldn’t get over how some were dressed — girls in short shorts and guys with their pants half off and showing their underwear. Students today certainly do not dress like the students dressed when I was in DeForest High School 60 years ago.
Let’s look back on how students at DHS dressed back in the ‘50s. If you think guys dressed like the Fonz in “Happy Days,” you are wrong. At DeForest High most of the guys cut their hair short in crew cuts, flat tops, and short conventional cuts. In fact the way my hair is cut now is pretty much the same style as I had as a teenager. Fred Sherman, Jim Swenson and John Gest had “Ducktail” hair cuts. I must admit that Gest looked pretty cool with his long hair cut. He’s been bald as a billiard ball for many years now. I can remember only one or two of the guys had motorcycle jackets. At DeForest it was not cool to wear your shirt collar up in back. A kid dressed like the Fonz would have stuck out like a sore thumb.
Most of the jocks and some of the girls wore purple and gold letter jackets. The school awarded big gold “D”s to those who played on the football, basketball, track and baseball teams. Girls were awarded “D”s for cheerleading and forensics. Gold lyres were awarded to those who played in the band. The letter jackets were ordered from Jostens, the company that also made class rings. They were a beautiful shade of purple with gold leather sleeves and they were expensive. Members of the Future Farmers of America wore blue corduroy jackets with the FFA logo on the back. I was not a jock and I didn’t belong to the FFA so I bought a regular jacket from Pennys or Sears. The “cool” jackets in those days were either white or powder blue light nylon windbreaker jackets. I bought one but my mother insisted that I wear a jacket with a lining in the winter months. It was also “cool” back then not to wear a hat or cap. I would leave the house with a stocking cap on but would take it off and stuff it in my pocket for the last block of my walk to school. Some kids would come into school with very red faces and ears on cold winter mornings.
The most popular choice for the guys in pants was jeans, either Levi’s or Lee’s. Back then the only choice in style was western styled jeans. They wore like iron (and felt like that, too, when you first wore them) and you bought them longer — that way you would get a good year or two of wear. If you grew, you just adjusted the cuffs to fit your longer legs. I also had a couple of “Ivy League” pants. They had a little belt stitched to the back. The most popular color was black.
The main wardrobes for the girls consisted of skirts, white blouses and sweaters. Poodle skirts were seen most often at the sock-hops. To my knowledge there was no written dress code for school and once in a while the girls would wear slacks, especially on cold winter days. The only time they wore shorts was on days when they were going on a class picnic — no short shorts, no off the shoulder blouses or low cut blouses.
Shoes were sensible leather oxfords, penny loafers and two-tone saddle shoes. Athletic shoes or tennis shoes were for gym class.
All the male teachers wore slacks and sport coat or suit coat with a white shirt and tie. The women teachers wore good dresses or women’s suits.
Most of the girls preferred short, perky hair styles.
And that’s how students and teachers dressed for school back in the ‘50s.
I WEAR TWO HEARING AIDS AND THEY help a lot to overcome my hearing loss. However, I have found sometimes they do not work as well when I am trying to hold a conversation in a noisy room with many people talking. It is also hard to understand someone outside on a windy day. A friend of mine sent me a group of jokes in an e-mail and I have to share this one with you:
Three retirees, each with a hearing loss, were playing golf one fine March day.
One remarked to the other, “Windy isn’t it?”
“No,” the second man replied, “it’s Thursday.”
And the third man chimed in, “So am I. Let’s have a beer.”