Clitheroe Royal Grammar School
Item #: 1602
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1959
James, it certainly was cold in the winter in shorts but yet again, my mother maintained the cold was good for boys so my legs could be scarlet with cold and she said it was a sign of being healthy. Remember how your legs used to burn once you came back indoors in the winter even if the house wasn't that warm - ours never was and we certainly didn't have central heating.
Somehow that was worse than being outdoors for PE dressed only in white gym shorts and plimsols - no underpants of course - it never seemed quite as cold on your legs but I guess we were more active and on return indoors we were always made to have a cold shower which never felt so cold after being outside.
Phil,yes,I was used to hearing the usual platitudes about'boys needed air at their legs' and'boys looked much smarter in shorts',however no comments were ever made about how cold I would be during the cold winter months.Unlike yourself I didn't have the option to wear longs for school,although boys were allowed to if their parents preferred them to do so. I think their understanding would be that if I wore longs I would not wish to go back into shorts.
James, on the occasions anything was said about wearing shorts my mother used to maintain that boys needed air at their legs! When I had to start wearing longs at school, my father wrote to the school complaining that long trousers were not appropriate for boys of thirteen, fortunately he didn't get anywhere with that and so I had to have longs but on arrival home, I had to get changed.
The other line used sometimes was that boys looked much smarter in shorts and there would be plenty of time for longs later in life. Equally there was for this and many other things the 'my roof, my rules' line which you probably heard to, most of my friends heard it too and if you didn't hear it clearly enough, the cane cracking against your bottom would remind you!
Phil,I agree that there was no point in protesting about wearing shorts as failing to accept my parents demands would have dire consequences the same as you mentioned. Of course no logical explanation was given as why I had to wear shorts through my teenage years,but it was something that I grew to accept. By that age most of the boys were wearing longs and teasing was quite prevalent although most of the teachers tried to stamp it out. I always considered it most unfair to be tease as it was my parents' prerogative to maintain that I should wear shorts and not my wish.Of course when going through a period of adolescence it gave us a particularly youthful look which was probably my parents' desire.
James, at home there was never any point in protesting about anything because there was only ever one consequence to pushing too far so it was better to wear shorts at your waist with good grace than have them and your underpants around your ankles while you bent across the back of a chair!
I wasn't the only lad among my friends who suffered the same fate although most had longs. No one really bothered about it and we were almost never teased because it got back to the parents of one lad who did tease others and the next time we saw him he was in shorts too and he'd had the belt for his trouble. Others didn't risk the same fate.
In the 1960s and early 70s, rebellion was always put down quickly.
Phil,did you find it disconcerting wearing shorts at home when you were nearly 18 or did you wear them with alacrity? I'm sure many boys of that age would have rebelled and refused to wear them. Like yourself I succumbed and accepted wearing shorts until my parents would allow me to wear longs.
James, I totally agree, although at 13 I had longs for school I had to wear shorts at home right up to the summer I was eighteen and any complaint resulted in them coming down and bending over. A favourite saying of my parents was that 'boys were to be seen and not heard'. Making a noise resulted in you 'being given something to make a noise about'.
Nick, you were lucky with those shorts at school. For PE we had to have white cotton ones. My mother always bought them a size too big so that they would 'last'. They did indeed last. At first I almost had to hold them up and as I 'grew into them'. I had to outgrow them before I got new ones. In the end I had to squeeze into them and even then she would say they could last another term at which point they were indecent and they used to chaff badly - she always starched white things so they would rub badly on the tops of my legs and up the crack of my arse.
Danny, you clearly had a different experience to others. At my school the cane was in every day use. It was not the first line of attack in PE, that was the slipper but the cane was used too. Other masters only used the cane and it was used with frequency, as I said earlier, carrot and stick without the carrot was the culture of the school.
Shiny Umbro shorts in white for PE, red or blue for house competitions and black for football were my uniform. I would wear them at weekends and in the holidays too.
Phil,boys wear frequently caned at the school that I attended ,usually for the slightest misdemeanor and like your parents mine were firm believers in corporal punishment, so I got the cane at home mainly for disobedience or talking back.
When boys go through a period of adolescence is a particularly awkward time and wearing short trousers for school and changing into satin shorts for home was extremely galling.
Am I to understand that people would be given corporal punishment not just for actual blatant misbehaviour but for simply not being up to scratch and doing well enough during PE lessons? What kind of years are we talking about here? The closest I can come to this is when I had a teacher who picked up a towel in short tempered frustration one day after a lesson when he thought there had not been enough collective effort and proceeded to towel flick at about five of us as we entered the shower walking past him on his shower guard watch. I recall seeing him do it to a couple of the classmates ahead of me but thought he would stop and not do so to me as I was always well behaved and was utterly shocked when I also felt the swipe of this towel across my lower back and bottom, even though I felt it without it actually hurting. I held no respect for that kind of behaviour and loss of control and would never have responded positively to a PE teacher who thought it was acceptable to smack a towel across the rear of naked lads about to shower.
James, I wasn't a particularly bad lad - just average. The culture of the school was to cane first and ask questions afterwards or more often just to cane. Whether it was lower marks than you were expected to get, being late, two detentions in a term, almost anything, the cane was waiting and ready to impart a stinging message that you needed to do better or of course there was always plenty more where the last dose came from. It was just how it was, I know mates who went to other schools who barely got it if at all but at my school the cane was ever ready. My parents were both strong believers in corporal punishment and so I got it at home too.
Phil,what did you do to warrant such a harsh punishment?
At my school when we were caned it would be entered into the punishment book and then the number of times that I had been caned would go into my end of school report. When my parents read the report they would reiterate the punishment by the number of times that I had been caned at school.
It was my mother's preference that I wore satin shorts which as you say did little to hide my cane marks. Often when I was taken shopping I would wear blue satin shorts,polo shirt,short black socks and trainers.
James, the regime at my school was carrot and stick without the carrot!
There were always a number of striped bottoms to be seen in the changing rooms and showers, mine as often as any other. Shorts back then were short and it was quite common to see a lad who had been caned low down which of course was where it hurt most showing marks when wearing gym shorts.
The Adidas shorts though showed the ridges of the cane through them and certainly if you bent over in white ones the marks were quite clear. I only did that once at home and my father saw the results and that had painful, immediate consequences.
Phil,thank you for your reply, I agree the satin shorts which we wore were nice and comfortable to wear and of course became very fashionable. I couldn't wait to get out of my school uniform short trousers to wear my satin shorts when I got home. Of course it was very distressing and alarming to be caned for wearing the wrong kind of shorts and the cane marks could be seen below the hem of my shorts.
James, to think that shorts which were so nice, comfortable and I thought fashionable should have caused two sore bottoms! I bet we weren't the only ones either. Certainly our PE teachers were never slow on that score.
Phil, I wore those Adidas shorts at my mother's instigation and they were packed in my PE kit unbeknown to myself.I was caned on my bottom for nt wearing the right shorts that should have been plain and cotton material.
Actually I preferred them to my usual shorts and they had a beautiful shimmering effect.
James, I remember those Adidas shorts and I wanted a pair so badly but they were not allowed with school uniform which had to be cotton and plain white so my mother wouldn't buy them. I saved up for a pair and was so proud of them and took them to school where I wore them for gym and promptly had my bottom slippered for having the wrong shorts!
I did still wear them and they lasted until I was about thirty when they finally dropped to bits. They were so silky smooth and comfortable. I do have a similar pair these days made by Under Armour which I mostly wear to lie around the house in.
Rob,when the wearing of satin shorts became fashionable I wore them for PE and games.They were made by Adidas and had were made from a very distinctive polyester nylon material that was extremely shiny.
They were much shorter than my usual shorts and the just covered my bottom.My mother bought several pairs of these shorts in different colors and I wore them at home instead of my grey school uniform shorts.
James, the girls grammar school was only across the other side of our playing fields, and we had to pass their main gate when we went on a cross country run. In the early years I don't recall our attracting any attention but as we developed and became young men, there always seemed to be a small group of girls waiting at the gates causing us to slow down and engage in a bit of friendly banter. They were quite obviously excited to see the spectacle of us all stripped down to our skimpy shorts and showing off our bare chests and I think we all looked forward to it and certainly didn't find it daunting!
Phil, we didn't play rugby but our soccer kit was football shirt and socks in school colours, boots and shin pads. We also wore our PE shorts, without underpants, and in the darkest afternoons in the winter it often felt very cold when the wind blew up our shorts.
Back in my day, the RFU had a directive on kit (and I think they still do) and it was boots, socks, a jersey and scrum shorts - those very fitting ones rugby players still wear and that was it and it was what I and my team mates wore, no more and no less. In spite of how fitting they were, it was not unusual for a player to feel his shorts going down in a scrum and there was the evidence if needed that no one wore underpants.
Rugby can be a very dirty game and you can be covered in mud at the end of it so the less you wore the better. Equally, in scrums, you often had your hands well up the guy in fronts' leg and it was much easier to grip against flesh than fabric. These days many players shave or wax because it improves grip.
I agree with Rob and Paul, shorts are much better without underpants when exercising, they only end up wet with sweat and although younger guys now cannot have been ordered to take them off with a slippering the consequence of disobeying, most lads I see at the gym do which endorses it as a good idea even if we didn't like it back then.
Rob, I guess it wouldn't be quite so daunting stripping down to skimpy shorts at an all boys'grammar school,compared to the mixed secondary modern school that I attended.I'm sure we offered the girls at the school an enjoyable spectacle while we took part in our sporting events.
James, having been used to being shirtless with other boys since the age of about seven, I certainly wasn't the least bit shy when I went to the boys grammar school and had to wear just shorts for PE, in the gym and outside. I also agree with Paul as we got very sweaty in the gym and I was glad we weren't wearing pants under our shorts, and anything on top.
Bernard, I agree that boys should be accustomed to going shirtless when they are younger and this would this would lead to them not being excessively coy when they entered secondary school. I was often only allowed to wear shorts at home and remain shirtless if the weather permitted.
Danny - I think you are right that boys should start doing p.e. shirtless as young as possible. It wouldn't be likely to bother many 8 year olds or younger and would save any difficulty for those few boys who might be reluctant to exercise without tops when entering secondary school.
Mt primary school was close to my grammar school so we often saw older boys running cross country and playing on the pitches in nothing but a pair of shorts. We were introduced to shirtless p.e. in the last year of primary school to get us used to that aspect of "big" school and I think it helped the more shy boys.
John,at the secondary school we had a uniform that was compulsory,but the wearing of short trousers was optional,however the majority of boys wore long trousers.Some of them that wore long trousers would revert to wearing shorts in the warmer months. I wore shorts all the year round till I left school.
Ben and James, It was a fourth form that preceded our P.E lesson midweek. They would be drying off and dressing as we were coming in to change I as a twelve year was amazed at how mature they were were and quite tall compared to our form of first years.
Its strange but John's comments almost exactly match my own recollections. Unfortunately the 'Prospectus' for my Secondary School was lost many years ago. (I have a feeling that caps may have been compulsory until the Fourth Form, though - but recollections vary)
When we started at secondary school a few boys were still wearing short trousers, but most of us started in long trousers. By the start of the the second year almost everyone was wearing long trousers.
Similarly although the PE uniform list said that we could wear vests with our PE shorts, within a few weeks most of us didn't bother and just went bare-chested in the gym. For outdoor games everyone wore a rugby shirt. Our shorts were different too - white shorts for indoor PE and navy blue for outdoor games.
No underwear was allowed for PE or games from the age of 11 until 13, when we were advised to start wearing an 'athletic supporter' (jockstrap).
Like Jemma's brother and his friends, we felt quite grown up when we first got them. Presumably the girls felt the same way when they got their first bras?
For the first two years we had to wear school caps travelling to and from school, which we hated. So another rite of passage was being able to throw them away when school broke up at the end the second year.
A jockstrap is for support, it has nothing to do with dignity.