Coming of Age, Vintage chicks lol

Bermudas, ‘Fad’ Shirts, Pegged Pants and Shirttails — Outlaws of The ’70s

I came across the 1970 dress code for my high school and it gave me pause. It’s not as I remembered, which is odd, since I recall with clarity the name of the boy who spit a chunk of bubble gum the size of a cantaloupe into my hair as I sat in the lower bleachers at a 7th grade basketball game. And, I remember exactly how I saved that wad of bubble gum, added to it and placed in on his seat in English class on the very day he was sporting a new pair of Docker khakis. Ah, the sweet stickiness of revenge.

But I digress. The dress code of that long ago day was established by an older generation who was deathly afraid of hippies, nuclear proliferation, bra burnings, Barry Goldwater and Reefer Madness, not necessarily in that order.

This is an actual excerpt from my high school handbook:

For Boys: No shorts of any kind. No pegged pants that are “extremely form-fitting.” Pants are to be worn at the waist, shirttails tucked in, coats may not be worn in school, and no “fad” shirts.” No “extreme” hairdos or clothing styles.

For Girls: No bermudas, slacks or shorts. No “pant-type” dresses. No tight skirts or sweaters, no “extreme” hairdos or clothing styles. Shirts and blouses must be tucked in. Skirt lengths are to be at the top of the knee when standing.

If you wonder why they used quotes on “extremely form-fitting”, “fad” and “extreme”, it’s because they were probably quoting my Dad.

Midwesterners were always at least ten years behind on the newest fashions being worn on on the West and East coasts. By the time Hoosier teens found out who the Beatles were and fell in love with the Fab Four, they were breaking up. So, it was ironic that the school outlawed extreme hair styles in 1970 when many of the girls were still sporting ’60s beehives that scaled the ceiling tiles.

I never did wear the “hive.” That hairdo frightened me more than the Apollo 13 landing. I’d heard tales of horror about bugs burrowing and nesting in the ratted and sprayed coiffures.

The skirt length relegated to the top of the knees certainly would have made me LOL, had that been a known acronym in 1970. In truth, the skirts were so short that we had to hire first-graders to tie our shoes and pick up any change we dropped.

I remember lots of girls getting sent to the principal’s office so he could check and see if their skirts were too short (they were). I always wondered if he also checked to see if their skirts and sweaters were too tight. All I’m saying is some of those girls didn’t come back to class for a long time.

Short hemlines were always a problem, but as you can see, the administration forbade girls to wear anything but dresses and skirts — no bermudas, slacks, shorts or  “pant-type” dresses.

Bermudas would have been much more modest than the miniskirts that let everyone see for themselves if we were wearing the appropriate panties for that particular day of the week.

Bermudas, by the way, were not a type of onion or triangle, a self-governed British colony or a semi-permanent area of high pressure found in The Atlantic Ocean. They were longer, fitted shorts that actually did go all the way to the knees. Interesting sidenote: In 1970 we could not say “go all the way” without lots of snickering and raised eyebrows.

The ’70s is the reason I can’t get too worked up about any outlandish fashions, hairdos, body piercings or tattoos that younger people are sporting today.

I had my day. Let them have theirs. We were young, carefree and it was glorious.

Even more so in form-fitting pegged pants, tight sweaters and miniskirts.

Coming of Age, Vintage chicks lol

Missing the Mark With Grade School Graffiti

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I miss visiting with my friends and family in these days of COVID-19. Normally, we’d be getting together and having stimulating and ridiculous adult conversations like how old we were when we first heard the F word. 

Nowadays it’s no big deal, but back in the 60s and 70s, that was “the baddest word in the world.” It wasn’t of course. It’s simply a word for sex that can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb and in many cases, to describe a dangling participle. But Americans are so squeamish about s-e-x.

It was 1962. I was 10, in the fifth grade. 

An older (Read: 12) and much wiser-in-the-way-of-the-world girl showed me some graffiti on the back of the old, whitewashed cafeteria, which was near the playground, which was near my house.

“Do you know what that word means?” she said with a knowing look and raised eyebrows.

As a matter of fact, I didn’t. It was an interesting word that rhymed with a lot of other words and I liked words that rhymed: Duck. Cluck. Buck. Tuck. Suck. Muck.

“It means love,” she said.

I eyed the many times it was scrawled on the cafeteria, right next to “Jimmy + Lana” and “Delores + Steven” and “You are 2 good 2 be 4gotten.”

Made sense. 

All of the graffiti related to love in some way. Except one that said, “Kill Jimmy Kartone.”

“Who is your boyfriend?” she asked.

I kind of liked David Persimmons, who sat behind me in music class, but he had no idea I lived, let alone that I sat in front of him in music class.

Although, he did once glance at me after my mom gave me a bad home perm and utter, “Ugh.” 

“Here,” she said, and slipped a tube of red lipstick into my hand. 

“Just write his first name if you don’t want to tell me,” The Older Girl-in-the-Know said. “It’s okay. Look. Everyone does it.”

Indeed, the entire side of the old building was covered with “love” messages.

Easily led and wanting to fit in — two traits that would lead me to trouble for most of my life — I took the lipstick and wrote Vivian F—- Dave and Dave F—- Vivian across the top of some older, faded “Roses are red …” verses.

We went back to the playground and I pretty much forgot about the incident.

That is, until one of the town’s policemen showed up at my house the next day.

I had not taken into account three factors:

  1. My mom had a fascination with “Gone With the Wind” and had named me Vivian Lee and I was the only Vivian in the entire school system.
  2. We lived in a very small town.
  3. The head of school maintenance was my neighbor.

Busted.

My parents were humiliated, my brothers were in awe and I was forced to scrub off the cafeteria scribblings — all of them. 

I was confused, embarrassed and I still had absolutely no idea what I had written and why everyone was so upset.  

I wanted to die with Jimmy Kartone. 

Worse, I could not explain it to my parents.  

How could I explain that I didn’t really love — or f—, whatever that meant? — David, I only kind of liked him? Which only meant — if he kind of liked me — we might hold hands briefly during the annual Turtle Days Festival. 

I thought about trying to blame it on Scarlett O’Hara, the only other Vivian I knew, but she spelled Vivian with an e. Besides, she was in Hollywood undergoing multiple shock treatments — an ironclad alibi.

A week later, I asked another girl who was a teenager what the word really meant and she told me.

Pow. Another defining moment.

“A boy and girl do WHAT?!” 

“Oooh … disgusting.”

“And people like this?”

“There is no way that’s how I was born. No way.”

My Mom and Dad’s Sunday naps were suddenly suspect.

I had to write, “I am sorry I wrote bad words on the cafeteria” 300 times, but I wasn’t too upset.

I was too busy being glad that our school system had a lot of boys named David.

Viv, in back, with four of her siblings.