Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team

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Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team
Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team
Year: 1935
Views: 218,931
Item #: 1741
Hesketh Fletcher Gym Team of Atherton, Greater Manchester.
Source: G. Smith.

Comment by: Mark C on 29th April 2020 at 10:52


You ask about medical exams and being naked.

Yes, I had a couple where I was, both pre-employment ones with occupational health doctors, one in the NHS and one at a private hospital where I also worked.

It wasn't that I was told to strip completely but rather that I don't wear underpants so there was nothing to leave on. It didn't bother me and didn't bother the doc in either case.

I was one of six boys - one of the middle pair of three sets of twins and there were only four years between oldest and youngest so from an early age I was used to being naked around other boys. We had a large bedroom with three sets of bunk beds so we were all in together.

I grew up like many with tight white Ys as underpants and I never liked them. Going to school and being told to take off my underpants for sport was liberation for me, I felt more comfortable and that I ran and exercised better without them. Used to being naked with boys that and the communal showers didn't give me pause for thought, it just seemed normal.

I started to experiment and stopped wearing underpants with jeans and found that comfortable too and in summer never wore them with shorts. Soon I was only wearing them for school or with formal trousers.

Initially I kept wearing them for school (private boys grammar school) because when you made not infrequent visits to the headmaster for the cane you had to drop your trousers and he caned you over your underpants. At the end of the caning there was invariably a warning along the lines of 'you had better watch your p's and q's boy because if I see you again soon, I will cane your bare bottom'. It was a threat he always made but as far as I knew had never carried out.

The year I went into lower sixth I decided without thinking it through to give up on underpants for school. In the first half term I fell foul of a rule, I was late twice in a week and had to report to the headmaster. I will admit I was nervous but assumed that I would be sent to put on gym shorts when he saw I wasn't wearing underpants.

After the usual verbal dressing down, I was told to take off my blazer then drop my trousers and bend over the back of a chair. I did so very aware of my bare bottom covered by my shirt tail. I felt him flick my shirt tail back and waited expectantly to be told to go and put my gym shorts on.

He didn't say a word, there was a swish, a crack and a line of fire across my bottom followed by five more of the same. I was told to straighten up and make myself decent which I did and instead of the usual words about minding p’s and q’s I was told that the ‘dose could be stiffened in future’.

In the aftermath I remember reflecting that while the sting and bite of the cane on my bare bottom had been worse than over underpants not having to pull up tight white Ys and just have looser trousers instead was a lot less bad afterwards and there was less clothing keeping the heat in. Changing for rugby that afternoon and in the showers my spectacular set of marks were much admired in the way we did then.

I got the cane a few more times before I left school including twice where he ‘stiffened the dose’ and gave me eight, ‘two more for insolence boy’ when I didn’t appear contrite enough.

Once I went off to university, I never again wore underpants, for me it’s far more comfortable and I’m not bothered about being naked in front of another man be that a doctor or a man in a changing room. I spent most of my career working in operating theatres wearing scrubs which of course means you get changed at the beginning and end of every shift. It’s hot in theatres so you don’t want to be wearing much anyway. In order to avoid contamination, the rule is you take off your outdoor clothes and put them away and wash your hands or shower before you start to put on scrubs. It was normal that almost every man would take off his underpants there too as the last thing you want is to get hot and itchy.

My point in saying this is that staff working in healthcare are in the main not at all bothered by naked flesh, they see lots of it, so back to the beginning, no doctor would be bothered about a naked body one way or the other especially if it was same sex.

Comment by: John on 29th April 2020 at 09:30

Pete W & Ben,
I can’t see the point of making lads get changed for PE and put on a t shirt and then ask them to take it off. It would have been so much more sensible to change the PE kit rules and make stripped to the waist required. My mum was happy not having to wash and iron PE t shirts for my brother and I and our dad thought that lads should do PE shirtless like he did at school.

Comment by: Pete W on 28th April 2020 at 23:03

Ben, our formal kit was for us to be stripped to the waist regardless of being indoors or out. I'm guessing from your post that you put a t-shirt on just for your teacher to tell you to strip off in the gym/outside?

Comment by: John on 28th April 2020 at 19:44

The rules may well have been arbitrary but they were enforced nevertheless and from the accounts of many contributors to this forum were widespread from the 1950s to the 1980s in the UK.

Comment by: Andy on 28th April 2020 at 18:14

She never told me how she actually knew, I always suspected that for some reason or another their teachers told them we weren't allowed to wear any. I remember mid first year after a PE lesson while queuing for the next class girls suddenly asking us if it was true we wore nothing under our shorts, they only saw us fleetingly in kit and while they may have worked it out from seeing us in our white shorts (it was obvious if you knew) it felt like they had been told.

Comment by: Andrea on 28th April 2020 at 11:40

I know my Ex said that they were quite relived when they were allowed to start wearing jockstraps at the start of their third year at secondary school, especially who had started to mature early.

Did your sister say how she knew the boys weren't allowed to wear anything under their shorts? I went to an all girls secondary school, so never came across this myself.
However, during our last year at primary school, I do recall the boys taking an interest in the few girls that were starting to 'develop'.

Comment by: Ben on 28th April 2020 at 11:29

Agree Pete W, sometimes it could get confusing as to who was on your team but we managed! Was your PE kit always as shown in the photo? For us it varied - the actual kit did also include a white T shirt but a lot of the time you'd end up taking it off almost immediately. Can't say I know much about boys' PE nowadays but it seems a shame if it's changed as much as you suggest...

Comment by: Andrea on 28th April 2020 at 11:27

Yes I guess that by age 13 lads don't want their mums around when their 'bits and bobs' are being examined!

Comment by: Keith on 28th April 2020 at 10:01

Ian. I can certainly confirm that in my years at senior school we were fit, from my recollection we had two sessions of PE a week and after end of term exams we had more on the run up to the holiday break, one PE teacher we had ran the city schoolboys football teams and I and also some more boys from my school were picked for the squad and we trained after school for that as well.

In my time I was a pretty nippy right winger, I modelled myself on the late Sir Stanley Matthews, who I met on one occasion when he came to see us training.

As stated in lots of posts on here boys were bare chested in PE, same for us,, but in cross country we did have the opportunity to wear a vest, just your normal underwear vest though, I didn't as I liked being bare chested, like most of my classmates, our run was around 5 miles in all and culminated in the last couple of miles being along the canal towpath and then across scrub land the the back of our school and then around into the side gate, mostly the only people we saw were fishing in the canal and they used to give us encouragement, the PE teacher ran with us as well, so there was no slacking off unless you picked up an injury, you just ran through the "stitch"

I was so grateful for the shower after as the towpath was often very muddy and it was an incentive to be in the leading pack to get in the showers first as it wasn't a big shower room, only accommodating about a dozen boys unless you shared a shower head, impatient boys just washed the mud of their legs and splashed water on their chests at the sinks if it was the last lesson of the day.

Did any who have posted about medical exams ever have naked exams at school or for work, other than the one I had at 16, I had one other when I was 18 and changed jobs and then I was alone and asked if I minded undressing completely, it was mostly conducted with me on an exam table though.

Comment by: June on 28th April 2020 at 05:40

John - that seems unnecessarily arbitrary not allowing boys to wear a jockstrap under their shorts, and especially for older boys who would require genital support. My husband and boys weren't subjected to such stupid practices luckily.

Comment by: John on 28th April 2020 at 01:31

Ben, Pete W
Skins vs skins was great fun. The black shorts and white shorts sounds a good way to differentiate teams and it was good that all lads got to play shirtless at some point during the games period. From reading comments on this forum it seems that some lads disliked being selected for the ‘Skins’
Team and being made to take their shirts off. Skins vs skins team games are the best way of making lads become body confident and to be happy to take off their shirts and be seen in public. Skins vs skins team games does away with any perceived unfairness by making all lads strip to the waist.

Comment by: Pete W on 27th April 2020 at 20:41

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....

Comment by: Ian on 27th April 2020 at 16:07

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.

Comment by: Ben on 27th April 2020 at 00:55

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!

Comment by: John on 26th April 2020 at 22:16

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.

Comment by: Andy on 26th April 2020 at 19:11

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.

Comment by: Nick on 26th April 2020 at 12:53

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.

Comment by: Hugh on 26th April 2020 at 11:49

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.

Comment by: James on 26th April 2020 at 07:18

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.

Comment by: Chris G on 26th April 2020 at 00:18

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.

Comment by: John on 25th April 2020 at 23:06

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.

Comment by: John on 25th April 2020 at 22:20

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.

Comment by: Mike G on 25th April 2020 at 19:23

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.

Comment by: Josh H on 25th April 2020 at 16:20

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.

Comment by: Keith on 25th April 2020 at 09:24

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.

Comment by: Keith on 24th April 2020 at 12:33

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.

Comment by: John on 24th April 2020 at 10:05

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.

Comment by: James on 24th April 2020 at 08:12

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.

Comment by: Andy on 23rd April 2020 at 17:42

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.

Comment by: Josh H on 23rd April 2020 at 17:23

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