Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

Childhood - Schools

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Year: 1935         Item #: 1741         Views: 173,680         Comments: 865

Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team
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Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team of Atherton, Greater Manchester.
Source: G. Smith.

865 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Pete W on 27th April 2020  

Ben, We did exactly the same but 7 a side. Skins vs skins was great fun and you had to think about just who was on your team. The photo really reflected PE/Games lessons, each lad stripped off to the waist and proud to show their upper bodies off. Wonder what they'd make of todays "lessons" no skins, no sweat,no fun....

Comments by Ian on 27th April 2020  

Keith,
One reason we can see immediately that these lads look fit is because they are shirtless. It was one of the reasons our PE teacher gave for it.
Also I have heard doctors say that having a lad completely naked for a medical allows them to make a quick assessment.

Comments by Ben on 27th April 2020  ben.thomas19@yahoo.com 

John, we sometimes had to play skins vs skins football, although this was six a side and with no bibs involved. What happened was that each boy whose surname was in the first half of the alphabet had to bring black shorts for PE, the boys in the second half were told to wear white. Then both groups were divided into shirts and skins to make four teams and we played a round robin, with the final round of games involving black shorts against white shorts. Might have been easier with bibs but it seemed to work!

Comments by John on 26th April 2020  

Nick, Andy,
I wasn’t allowed to wear underwear underneath my PE shorts either. I had no issue with doing PE topless but we should have been allowed to wear a jockstrap underneath our shorts. The school rule was stripped to the waist for boys for indoor PE but some PE teachers made us play football skins vs skins outdoors with each team wearing different colored bibs.

Comments by Andy on 26th April 2020  

Nick
I remember my older sister who was at the same school telling me I wouldn't be allowed anything under my shorts, I thought she was joking until the first lesson.
I thought the rule had been dropped by the 90s so that teacher must have been one of the old guard, at least when you had other teachers the rules where less stringent - I wouldn't have wanted to be in any class that came across him in later years, particularly if it was their first time being taught by him.

Comments by Nick on 26th April 2020  

Hi Andy, no we didn't have any prior warning about how strict the new teacher would be. I think he had been at the school the previous year but I didn't know anyone he'd taught. So it all came a bit out of the blue at that first PE lesson! We were 13 at the time so some of us were more developed than other boys, but I think we all got used to the new teacher's rules before long. However I made my brother, who was two years younger, aware of what to expect when his class were timetabled with that teacher, so at least he knew he'd be doing PE topless and with nothing under his shorts.

Comments by Hugh on 26th April 2020  

James - ex navy - thank you for your comment and question.

Yes, I was at Dartmouth both in training and later on the medical team when I was there for about a year. I also worked at Haslar and of course at sea though on a short service commission I didn't spend as much time at sea as other medics.

I think the medical exams were thorough, the way they were carried out lent themselves to that and as the doc you were totally focussed on what you were doing.

You ask about officer and rating exams. They were exactly the same, carried out in the same room - but of course never at the same time - and the procedure was identical in all regards. The examine don't explain philosophy held good for both groups. I guess the only difference was once you reached a degree of seniority you would have been examined by a suitably senior medic, probably in private but I was never that senior a medic.

Yes, for most lads and young men, the rectal exam was probably a first. For whatever reason the navy had an obsession with haemorrhoids possibly because they can be made worse by physical work and in any event they are uncomfortable which is why the rectal exam was a feature of every physical exam.

The advantage of the line up again was that doing thirty of the same exams one after the other allowed you to do them with speed but I recall being on the receiving end did make you gasp and in my case it made my eyes water. Wise to what was coming when my turn came in future I made sure my feet were well apart and I was bent as tightly as I could be just to optimise my physique for what I knew was coming.

Comments by James on 26th April 2020  

Josh H,I wore shorts for school at the same age as yourself and I was given no explanation by my parents as to why I had to remain in shorts at that age.
Rather than defying my parents and objecting to wear shorts I tried to wear them with dignity and humility.
Most teachers at my school thoroughly approved of boys wearing shorts through school even though they were very brief and trim.

Comments by Chris G on 26th April 2020  

Mike G, John
I was coming up to my 10th birthday, and we were experiencing a minor heat-wave, when Mum and Dad suggested that I might be more comfortable sleeping shirtless. I was, and although I reverted to PJ tops when the colder weather arrived, by the following Spring I was sleeping topless again. Over the next couple of years, my topless periods got longer and longer, and by the time I was 13, I was sleeping shirtless all year round, much to Mum's surprise. I went to a boarding school for my 6th form years.s. Although the boarders clothing list specified pyjamas, which didn't please me at all, I found on my first night that everyone in my dormitory slept topless as a matter of course, and some brave spirits stripped off completely.

Comments by John on 25th April 2020  

Mike G,
Please accept my apologies, I meant to type ‘ your dad was right to make you start sleeping shirtless on your ninth birthday’ (Not 12th birthday, my error)
I really wish my dad had made me start sleeping shirtless on my 9th birthday.

Comments by John on 25th April 2020  

Mike G,
I think your dad was a great father, my dad did encourage my brother and I to take our shirts off when it was sunny weather. Dad didn’t encourage us to sleep shirtless that was something I decided to do after going on school camp when I was 12. I found out that most of my school pals slept shirtless on the first night sharing a large tent, I along with other full pj lads took our tops off. Your dad was right to make you start sleeping shirtless on your twelfth birthday, I wish that my dad had made me do the same. Returning home after school camp I continued to sleep shirtless.

Comments by Mike G on 25th April 2020  

John, My dad had me topless at any opportunity, whether it was helping him or making me do press ups on a Saturday night to see what I could do. It used to drive my mum mad but she did approve,telling me I'd benefit from both the exercise and being topless around my sisters who would look in to see what was happening.

Comments by Josh H on 25th April 2020  

Like you James, by the time had come when as I said there were no shorts to fit me the ones I was wearing had become inordinately brief, and very tight fitting.

Comments by Keith on 25th April 2020  kjl483@yahoo.com 

Josh H. I guess the shorts these boys are wearing were the fashion at the time given the year of 1935, also they look tremendously fit, not an ounce of fat on them, unlike a lot of boys that age today. Also I reckon just 6 or 7 years later the boys in the picture were in the armed forces fighting for their country.

Most of them would be well into their 90's now if they survived, and are probably not with us now anyway.

Comments by Keith on 24th April 2020  kjl483@yahoo.com 

I wore the grey school shorts at secondary school up until I left at 15 to start work, there was a shorts rules that we had to wear them until age 14 and then it was either grey trousers or shorts, the long grey socks were all the time though, my parents said they weren't going to buy me school trousers for one year as I had a good supply of grey shorts that included new ones, the older shorts I had were now too short for me and were tight everywhere, leaving nothing to the imagination, so I had to wear the new ones.

Gradually through that year most boys changed to trousers, unlike me and a couple of boys that lived in children's homes, no problems though and some boys even changed back on hot days.

Comments by John on 24th April 2020  

Mike G
Your dad sounds just like mine, my dad also did National Service and was thrilled to hear that my brother and I would be doing PE stripped to the waist when the new rules were introduced at school.

Comments by James on 24th April 2020  

Josh H,

It was not only our sports shorts that were absurdly brief,but the shorts that I wore for school were inordinately brief.
As the other James pointed out boys of sixteen could be wearing brief shorts when boys aged eleven could be wearing long trousers.

Comments by Andy on 23rd April 2020  

Nick
Having teachers with different rules must have been difficult, I presume he wasn't a new teacher to the school that year? We had different teachers for our classes in the same year, but at least they all applied the same rules, It would have been easy for someone to fall foul of his underwear rule if you where booked a different teacher that day.
Did you have any knowledge beforehand that he would be strict, at least I only had to get used to not wearing underwear from the first year, I would have found it difficult to adapt to it at a later age when more developed.

Comments by Josh H on 23rd April 2020  

I would add nothing like the baggy shorts in the picture.

Comments by Josh H on 23rd April 2020  

Kevin
AS you say it was really only short shorts that were worn. They were bad enough for lack of cover, but even worse I remember the lads who wore what was then coming into style the white nylon shorts. Big problem when wearing them outdoors and it rained.

Comments by Keith on 23rd April 2020  kjl483@yahoo.com 

Andrea. Parents were invited as we all had a letter to take home to be signed and I remember there was a box to be ticked if a parent wanted to be present, just how those arrangements would be met I don't know as to my knowledge no parents ever came at the secondary school one, mostly because many worked and they did the medicals in the morning, I know many boys were glad as well that they didn't have a parent there.

Comments by Nick on 23rd April 2020  

Reading Mike G's post, did anyone else experience a situation where your PE kit varied depending on the individual teacher? One year I had a PE teacher who was fairly relaxed about what boys wore in the gym - a T shirt instead of a vest was fine, for example, or coloured socks as opposed to the school's regulation white gym socks. The next year's teacher proved to be a complete contrast - he made us all strip to the waist, no underwear was permitted under our shorts and socks were white or not worn at all! Quite a difference. I know that may have been the norm for many of you but it came as quite a shock to me! This was the early 1990s.

Comments by Mike G on 22nd April 2020  

Ian, Following a change of Headmaster my secondary school banned vests for PE/Games a few months before I started stating there was no need for boys to wear a vest in order to exercise. My dad who was made to strip to the waist for PE during his National Service, fully approved of this approach and shortly after my 9th birthday I was told to stop wearing a top for bed too much to the amusement of my slightly elder sisters.

Comments by Kevin on 22nd April 2020  

Regarding comments on the short shorts of the Sixties and Seventies, generally boys wanted to wear them as they were very much in style at that time, even if they didn't always cover things adequately during gym exercises. Anybody in big shorts would have been the odd one out. I remember one student PE teacher taking our class used to joke that we could have had a shortest shorts competition. The nearly naked PE of my schooldays- bare top, bare feet, bare legs and tiny shorts- would be inconceivable in any modern school.

Comments by Ian on 22nd April 2020  

Danny,
It was a boys only school with few lady teachers, primary or secondary.
In primaries one and two PE consisted of running and dancing to music taught by a couple of ladies. It was done fully clad but without shoes and heavy garments.
From primary three we were taught by male PE teachers. We were not actually told to strip naked, just to take our tops of first then bottoms before putting on our kit. As I said, it was rarely enforced so a lot of boys put their shorts before taking their shirts off. I can't remember anyone wearing underpants it but if any boy did, they'd just be told to go to take them off.
We did think it was a bit odd - after all, PE could be done in track suits. We were told that it was all part of school uniform policy and teachers were expected to enforce it at their discretion. As I said, it was - only lightly enforced in primary but rigorously in secondary.
A new, tough head of PE in secondary used his "discretion" to make us wear shorter shorts and banned singlets which used to be worn for outside athletics, long distance and punishment runs.

Comments by James - ex navy as opposed to other James's on 22nd April 2020  

Hugh,

I was fascinated by your account of being a medic in the navy. I recounted my experience of joining the navy back on 3rd April (among other things) and I joined as a post grad beginning my selection and career at Dartmouth. I guess you must have been there too both in training and maybe as a doc?

My memory of medical exams was that they were, as you describe carried out at tremendous speed and thirty guys in about an hour would be right and yet it all seemed pretty thorough.

Also, having been used to communal showers at school and in the halls at university communal showers were also normal as they were for rugby even for the first medical, stripping naked with a group of other men didn't bother me, I was pretty fit with a decent body but then we all were and all we got to be was fitter and stronger so no one had a body to be ashamed of.

The only thing that was a shock and unexpected at the first medical was the rectal exam, I had never had one before and didn't even know they existed so when it happened with no warning it was a shock. I just remember the lad bending next to me gasping and then I was too, again all done at great speed. After the first time I was expecting it so didn't get a shock.

If I may ask, was there any difference in the way officers and ratings were examined at entry and during early career?

Josh H,

I had to wear shorts until I was sixteen. They were optional at school against longs and my mother refused to buy longs. I hated them and they were really short and as I was taller than most I always showed a lot of bare leg which I hated all the more.

Comments by Josh H on 21st April 2020  

James. It was difficult being one of the lads still in shorts for sometime. Especially as over time more of my friends progressed out of shorts.
I know that I could not wait to get into longs. I was told that I was still in shorts because I was not tall enough to wear long trousers.Although I think that was an excuse and my dad could not afford to buy long trousers. But eventually I did progress to long trousers, and I think by the time it happened because the time came when there were no grey shorts to fit me. I know I felt I had grown up when I went to school for the first time in long trousers.

Comments by Andrea on 21st April 2020  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Keith,
You mentioned that your mum was present when you had your first medical at age 7 and that your next one was at 13, combined with a PE lesson. Was your mum present at that too?

I can't recall having one at Primary school, but we did have one in the first year at secondary school and then a second when I was about 15. Mum was present at the first, but not the second.

Comments by Danny on 21st April 2020  

Josh,
Yes, all professional footballers wore short shorts during games in the 60s, including the World Cup teams.
It was so in the 1966 World Cup held in England and anyone can see this in the team photos of the time.
The England team wore white short shorts and shirts as part of the national team gear.
It was also the only time, or last time anyway, that England won the World Cup if memory serves me right.
I can still see Bobby Moore holding up the World Cup in Wembley Stadium in his white short shorts. Ahh...what memories.

Comments by Danny on 21st April 2020  

Ian,
I find it strange that you were told to strip completely naked when changing for PE in Primary school, especially if it was a mixed class.
In Primary school we all changed in class but we were never told to take our underpants off.

The no underpants rule may have been common in some Secondary schools, but I never heard of it in Primary schools. It may have happened in boys only private or boarding schools, but I don't think it was common in State Primary schools.
Also doing PE in underpants only may have been common in some Primary schools, but I am not acquainted with the kids being made to take their underpants off for putting on PE kit in Primary schools.

Comments by Keith on 21st April 2020  kjl483@yahoo.com 

Hi, Reading the school medical posts by others reminded me of my school medical exams, I was brought up in a rural area in the early 60's and my first school was the infants school in the small village where I lived, perhaps about 15 to 20 or so pupils aged 5 to 7 all sons and daughters of land workers and a small dairy, my dad was a farm labourer and my mum worked in the dairy and we lived in what was known as a tied cottage. No PE as such in the school, just a bit of exercise done in the playground before lessons, running on the spot and physical jerks, you left at age 7 and went to the primary school on the edge of the nearest town that was a short bus ride away and it was there that I had my first school medical at age 7, I remember the headmasters office was used and we were called out of class by name and met our mothers outside the office, basically it was just to strip down to our shorts and take off our shoes and be weighed and measured and then examined by the doctor, told to undo our shorts and open them and the doctor just pulled your underpants open to check your genitals, no feeling or cough test, and that was it, if the doctor found anything out of the ordinary he spoke to your mother about it, in my case nothing. I was at that school until age 11 and didn't have another medical until I had been at my next school, a church secondary modern on the other side of town, that was a bit more stricter on uniform and I know my mum and dad struggled to pay for the uniform the consisted of grey shorts, white shirts and grey and maroon tie with a maroon jblazer and long grey socks with maroon top, PE kit was blue shorts and white vest and white plimsolls, no socks or underwear to be worn, we had no swimming pool but went to the municipal baths for lessons and had blue trunks for that.

My first medical was at age 13 and it was combined with a PE lesson so we were dressed in PE kit minus the plimsolls and waited in line in the gym to be called into a small office for the examination, it was divided by a screen to separate the nurse from the doctor, as mentioned in a previous post it was a two by two situation and when the first boy had had his eyes and ears and been weighed he went behind the screen to see the doctor, you removed your vest and had you chest and back checked and then was told to drop your PE shorts and have the cough and foreskin test, mine wasn't okay and I eventually went to the local cottage hospital to be circumcised, in my class there were only about 4 or 5 boys circumcised out of 20 or so I think. I left that school at age 15 without any qualifications at all having failed my 11+ and 13+ exams, I started work at a builders and because I had signed up to be an apprentice decorator at 16 I went to have a medical exam at a local doctors, sent there by my employer. That was packed to the rafters with boys my age all there for the same thing and it took ages to be called for the exam and that was with a boy I didn't know, they were doing two at a time to speed things up, no messing about in the doctors surgery, strip to your underpants and get examined side by side, the doctor, a very grumpy old one, went round us checking quickly and then issued the command "drop your underpants and step forward", I wore the white loose trunk type ones at that time and actually stepped out of them and went naked back to my clothes with them in my hand after having the cough and balls feeling check, I was shaking like a leaf as I got dressed and actually put them on back to front.

Oh happy days...lol

Comments by James on 21st April 2020  

Josh H,
Wearing short shorts was the fashion of the time in the sixties and like you I wore short grey uniform shorts.
For PE we were all wore the same shorts and even though they were minuscule we became accustomed to wearing them.
What was it like being in a minority wearing short shorts when your classmates were wearing long trousers?

Comments by Josh H on 20th April 2020  

As you refer to short shorts. I saw an article in a newspaper the other day which including picture of professional footballers in the 60's. The players at that time all wore short shorts. Nothing like the longer version that is the fashion now. Furthermore whilst the majority of my class mates wore long trousers, I was still in short grey uniform shorts until I was 13. I remember the various pe exercises when we were partnered up and as you say, at times everything was on view, and I knew when it was his turn to support me he would in turn "see me in full"

Comments by William on 20th April 2020  

Hugh
I like your practical no nonsense approach. I can't help but feel that our generation were lucky to have experienced a no nonsense approach to stripping off at school. We may not have liked it at first but because we had no choice we got on with it and the majority found that it wasn't half as bad as we expected. Far from it. That was a good lesson for life and may even have made intimate medical examination less daunting.

Comments by Ian on 20th April 2020  

Just some comments on order of changing and the peril of short shorts.

In the primary, we were told to strip completely naked when changing, by removing your top first. Only then put on the gym kit – white shorts and plimsolls only. It was only rarely enforced in primary, but in secondary boys not following the rules were punished, sometimes with detentions. A new head PE in secondary insisted that shorts were really short - mine had a 10 inch outside leg. One lad was really proud of a pair that were just 9 inches.

Some of the exercises we did were not for the shy. Ropes were a favourite of mine although the boy holding the bottom of the rope, watching you ascend, had a full view of everything. Another exercise consisted of climbing about a yard up the wall bars, hanging on with your back to the bars and bringing your legs up to 90 degrees. It was said that if the PE teacher did not get a good view you would be punished for not doing it right!

I do remember an amusing incident – there were not many, as our PE period was hard and done under very strict 60's Scottish discipline. There was a lad who had shot up to well over 6 feet but was still as skinny as a rake. His shorts looked absolutely miniscule. I was holding his ankles as he did sit ups, noticing his huge feet and something winking at me from his shorts. The teacher shouted “insufficient effort” - a punishable offence in his book, so the lad heaved himself up as hard as he could – but everything came out of his shorts. At that stage in life my feelings were often contradictory and I felt a combination of disgust and amazement. The final indignity suffered by the lad was being ordered out of the shower queue to stand in front of us stark naked and at attention while the teacher delivered a lecture about jockstraps. How things have changed!

Comments by Ben on 19th April 2020  ben.thomas19@yahoo.com 

Hi Stuart, we had a similar set-up with regard to school medicals. Everyone lined up in T shirts and shorts outside the nurse's room, the first two boys went in together and after that it was one in, one out. First part of the exam was overseen by the nurse, who would call your name. As soon as you went in you had to strip to the waist, although I'm not quite sure why - it was only an eyesight test! Then came weighing and measuring before you went through to the inner office to see the doctor - and the next boy took your place to get his sight tested.
In the doctor's office, you were told to strip down to your underwear and the rest of the exam took place, culminating in the infamous 'drop your pants and cough' test. Finally the doctor would tell you to get dressed and leave. Of course, you couldn't get fully dressed in one go as your T shirt was still in the other room!
This procedure was once a year, up to the age of 14 I think.

Comments by Hugh on 19th April 2020  

Matthew, thanks for your comment.

With dads and lads I always offered the choice of one then the other or side by side. The vast majority chose side by side which meant they were naked together and I don't remember a situation where the dad changed his mind once in the room. It was normal that dad would be in the room for his son anyway so it was really whether dad felt comfortable naked in front of his son and my memory is that almost all did. If they were not examined side by side then the boy would be examined first and then leave the room though that didn't happen very often.

William, thank you for your comment.

Over the years I came to believe that what one person regards as dignified another will not and may have a diametrically opposed view. My belief was that we should always carry out the most effective clinical examination for the patient we could while causing them the least discomfort. For a man once routine early years examinations are over the main reason for carrying out a rectal examination is to check the prostate. If a man is standing, bending over the prostate will be directly under your finger almost immediately and if that's the extent of the examination then he will barely feel anything and you only need to go in about five centimetres with little pressure if he is bending over. If he is lying on his side your hand will be immediately at the wrong angle, out by ninety degrees, the pressure needed to both spread the buttocks and pass the anal sphincter will be much greater and you will then need to twist your finger all of which will cause the patient significantly more discomfort.

There is also the matter of visual contact, a man lying on his side can see your face and you his. Many patients would prefer this not to be the case and if the man is bending over you can’t see each other. On both sides of the examination I prefer not to either see the patient’s face or the doctor’s face. I would add that outside of the military medicals, it’s normal to ask the man to either bend and lean his upper body on the examination couch or to bend over the back of a chair leaning his elbows on the seat so in either position he is steady and stable. I don’t see either of those positions as undignified.

The navy was a bit different; men were in a line all bending together and so to steady them it was normal that an orderly would move along the front of the line as you moved along the rear. With the men already bending, he would press down firmly on the shoulders of the man being examined steadying him, holding him in position and ensuring he was bending as far as he could so that you could move with speed and efficiency along the line.

Bearing in mind I had been examined myself in this manner on joining, I didn’t find it undignified either, it was what the navy did, you very quickly accepted it and got used to it. I think it’s still what happens to this day for men though women are examined individually.

Comments by Chris G on 19th April 2020  

At my funal school, we were weighed and measured at the last PE lesson of each term, the outcomes being recorded on our termly reports, We had to remove our PE tops, but kept our shorts and underwear if we were wearing any, on. By this stage, most of us were wearing jockstraps. This was the only occasion when we were allowed to be topless in the gym.

Comments by Stuart on 18th April 2020  Cmnmuk@yahoo.co.uk 

I recall school medicals up to about age 13. Always done in pe lessons we changed into pe kit shorts and t shirts and then stood in line outside the room where the doctor and nurse were in. Went in there in pairs - whilst one was being measured weighed etc by the nurse the other was being checked by the doctor. We were told to strip off once in the room. Nothing unusual given we had showers and swimming etc , the only difference was that the nurse was a lady.

Comments by William on 17th April 2020  

Hugh
Thanks again. I imagine that having the patient lie on his side for a rectal exam is part of the NHS's commitment to respect the privacy and dignity of the patient. Bending over while you're naked from the waist down is pretty undignified. Can upholding dignity conflict with best clinical practice?

Comments by Matthew on 17th April 2020  

To Hugh.

Thank you for all the information you have been posting.

Can I ask you about the "lad and dad" situation? When they accepted to have an examination together, were they aware that they would both be naked or did they only find that out when they were actually undressing for you?

Comments by Hugh on 16th April 2020  

William, thank you for your reply.

You ask about young men and sensitivity.

After my time in the navy which I thoroughly enjoyed latterly as a ship's surgeon I moved to general practice which was differently demanding though still in the first line of practice which was not so different to being on a ship at sea. I am now retired though and have been for several years.

As you may well know far fewer men than women consult GPs and only do so when they have no other choice, at the time you would always take particular interest in a man with thin notes and be particularly thorough when he came to see you because you never knew what might be wrong.

In the nature of boys and young men you would see them mostly with childhood things and trauma injuries usually as a result of sport but then also sometimes for medical examinations.

Medical examinations presented in a few different ways.

First, some private schools required a pre-entry medical normally around the age of twelve or thirteen, this was most common at boarding schools.

Then you may recall a time when there were university grants that some local authorities required those seeking a grant to pass a medical exam before the grant would be paid, that has long died out but I had to have one myself before getting a university grant.

The next common group were men where pre-employment medicals were needed. That was a lot more common at one time than now and it died out because of disability discrimination, cost saving and the population being generally more healthy.

The last group was younger men taking out life insurance policies early in life and insurers used to insist on a medical before issuing the policy.

In all cases the appointment would be paid for privately and be for an hour in duration so it was plenty of time in comparison to the navy where I would examine thirty men in the same time.

I used to adopt the same approach to men's medicals in general practice as I had used in the navy and would have initial observations carried out by a practice nurse though the patient would remain fully clothed during that time.

For pre-boarding school and university medicals a lad would usually arrive with a parent, I would guess in over 90% of cases his father. As a practice we had a policy that if father was registered too we would offer him an examination too particularly if he had thin notes. Invariably they accepted.

Pre-employment and life insurance patients almost invariably came alone.

Once in the room I would explain what was to happen and ask the patient to undress. Most school age lads did just that and stripped off, it was more often the ones in their early twenties who thought strip off meant take off your clothes but keep your underpants on. In my direct naval manner I always dealt with that by telling them to step out of their underpants and we could begin.

When it was a lad and dad I always offered them the choice of take a turn or be examined side by side and almost always they opted for side by side, sometimes one or the other appeared shy but mostly they were quite comfortable.

My experience was that if a man was naked from the start of the exam he was not awkward when it was time to check testicles, the gluteal cleft and rectum.

While it's perfectly possible to check testicles with underpants at the knees or ankles, the gluteal cleft and rectum really need underpants off simply because if a man opens his legs before bending over he will feel less on the rectal examination and resistance to the finger will be significantly reduced. (One of the reasons rectal exams are seen as uncomfortable is a current fad for having the patient lie on their side. In that position, legs together and buttocks as good as clenched you need far more pressure to both spread the buttocks and insert a finger than you do legs well apart and bending over).

So, some degree of awkwardness among those in their early twenties among younger men but not really significant.

The next group you see are generally aged 50+ when waterworks problems are starting to kick in. Often that is an enlarged prostate (perhaps many posting here have one!) and of course the checks for that are also underpants down perhaps for the first time in thirty years. Most men coming to talk about waterworks reasonably expect an examination of penis and testicles, few know how a prostate is examined and so a rectal exam comes as a surprise but having had one, most are not bothered about a further one in due course. Of all the groups, it's older men who are least bothered but perhaps that will change over time.

Comments by William on 15th April 2020  

Hugh
That's very interesting and clear, thanks. Many contributors who were at boys' schools in the '60s and '70s have remarked on how many young men today avoid at all costs being seen naked in gym and swimming pool showers and changing rooms.
Do you know whether this sensitivity has become a problem for doctors when young men present themselves with something that requires them to remove their underpants?
Like you, we had no notion of privacy at school but there are some today, including on this website, who demand an extreme form of modesty for boys that may make them cripplingly shy about their bodies.
I just wonder whether someone of your background had come across this and whether in practice it caused difficulties.

Comments by Hugh on 14th April 2020  

I was a boarding school boy in the 1960s and early 70s like many here, I started at seven in prep school and went all the way to eighteen and had many of the same experiences already described.

We slept in open dormitories, showered in communal showers both in the dormitory and sports centre, we not allowed underpants for sport of any kind and we swam naked in the pool though there were never outsiders present. Even on sports day there were no parents there mostly because school was for most of us a long way from home and not all parents were able to make the journey and often did not have a car.

I went on to study medicine and was for a time a navy doc so I can shed light on the posts of Philip and James if anyone is interested.

In the process of joining the navy as an undergraduate I experienced exactly the same sort of medical Philip and James describe and during my time in the navy carried out very many similar ones. It was a laid down procedure that we followed, I believe common to the armed services both at home and overseas and certainly while I spent some time with the RAN methods were no different.

So yes, we examined in groups of usually thirty and less on occasion if there were not thirty candidates but there were never less than twenty.

The main rationale for the method was speed. If I was seated in an examination room and men came in one at a time fully dressed then undressed and were examined and then dressed again before leaving I might have been able to examine fifteen to twenty a day. If they were lined up naked and waiting then I could examine thirty an hour so it was a much better use of my time to work in the way laid down.

I think it's true to say that because of conditioning at school most men were reasonably comfortable to be naked in a group and I was rarely aware of anyone who was not. In any event the orderlies would have ensured they were stripped naked and once naked would have checked temperatures, weights, heights, blood pressures and sight before I entered the room.

Examining body parts was also more efficient in terms of time than examining the whole candidate one at a time. Bearing in mind that you were examining what were in the main healthy young men you didn't really expect to find much wrong and it was rare that you did.

If you are working along a line first looking in sixty ears then thirty mouths followed by listening to thirty heart beats and sixty lungs you will soon see or hear even the slightest abnormality and the upper body really is about looking and listening. Only as you move below the waist does touch matter more so you feel for hernias then healthy testicles and finally probe for any internal rectal abnormality and again for instance to focus on the rectal exam you will soon feel anything abnormal as you probe thirty rectums in rapid succession even though you can of course see nothing but touch is everything.

There was also an element as has been pointed out about desensitising men during the examination. There's certainly a power dynamic when you are fully clothed and the man in front of you is naked and you are palpating his testicles and even more so when he's bending over for a rectal exam even if he is expecting it and much more so when he isn't but the handed down policy was not to explain but to examine.

Comments by Biggles on 13th April 2020  

James,
We wore the normal white cotton shorts with mid-thigh length, so modesty was not an issue.
I can understand your embarrassment at having to wear those semi-transparent brief nylon shorts for long cross country runs through villages or for PE with girls who were more modesty attired.
Even more so since you had to wear them without underpants on.
I think this would be one exceptional case where I have to agree with Mr.Dando concerning boys modesty, although I don't think he ever mentioned this particular PE kit which was mandatory for boys in some schools.

Comments by James on 9th April 2020  

Biggles,when we wore shorts for PE when it was shared with girls and other games we were disadvantaged as apposed to the girls who were more appropriately dressed for our sporting activities.The older boys at our school wore shorts that were the same brevity as the junior boys and could be humiliating at times,especially on long cross country runs through villages when our shorts did little to protect our modesty.
Did you wear your shorts with disdain?

Comments by Josh H on 8th April 2020  

Thank you for your comments Phillip. I was sipped as a bay apparently it was usually quite normal when I was born. I had no idea that I was any different or that there was a mixture of circumcised and normal in our class. It was only in later years that some of us realised that we had been done, that we noticed.
William with regards to your comments about handstands, I remember these well. Having a partner holding your legs and being completely exposed. Our pe teacher had another exercise and that was to sit on the floor with a partner with our feet touching. We then had to grasp each other wrists and rock back and forward as if in a rowing motion. As with handstands everything was on view. But no one ever made a comment or as I remember worried about it.

Comments by Josh H on 8th April 2020  

With regards to sleeping at Scout camp, the kit list issued to parents included pyjamas or change of clothes for bed. Although the leaders expected us to change into pyjamas, they did not check. I think what happened the patrol I was in had some sort of competition amongst ourselves and the loser had to do a forfeit. someone was dared to sleep naked and then it followed that we all did. As far as I know only in that tent. I was brought up jointly by my dad and nan( mother died when I was young) Although dad had served in the war as was more relaxed nan made the rules and at home I certainly would not be able to sleep naked at home. So really at camp it was an opportunity to "flout the rules" Furthermore, puberty for me was a late onset and I was kept in tight grey shorts until 13 whilst most other boys were in longs. That was not up for discussion with Nan.

Comments by Philip on 8th April 2020  

Josh,

I suppose when the doc said I should be snipped I was nervous about what was involved. I had had school medicals before and nothing was ever said, testicles were examined and you coughed but that was about it. I was eleven on this occasion and it was a different doc who was a bit younger and more thorough. I didn't know that a foreskin was meant to retract so had never tried so when the doc asked me about it I was clueless. He told me what to do and it was impossibly tight and he said I should have some of the skin removed and carried on with my testicles as normal.

I didn't say anything when I got home because I didn't know what to say but a few days later a letter arrived from the hospital with an appointment. I pleaded (in vain) not to go but along we went one morning, I remember being on a trolley, going to sleep and then waking feeling very numb in my groin. Peeing was painful and when the dressing came off I was quite shocked but I got used to it quickly enough.

My memory was that six of us out of a class of thirty were snipped and there was much curiosity in the showers for a few weeks then it all settled down to be normal.

I agree about lads at the gym though they must get used to communal changing rooms because everyone aged 25+ seems quite happy to use them, it's only the younger lads who aren't and the same in the showers, the youngsters go to the two cubicles there are while everyone else uses the communal ones.

Comments by Graham on 8th April 2020  

Josh - you wrote:
"As well as my experiences at school, I was a scout for many years and when we went to camp there normally 6 boys to a tent and again we got used to undressing for bed when most of us slept in the nude."

Sounds very progressive, Avant Garde even, for teens in the 1960's. Was this in the UK, and did you normally sleep nude at home?



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