Have mercy! Girls in shorts and jeans

Things have really changed over the years.

In the late 1940s and 1950s, there were a lot of things that little girls or should I say little ladies were cautioned not to do. While boys were free to do almost anything, girls were reminded to act like a lady. Girls wore dresses and played school and played house. They were not supposed to climb trees, as they were not dressed appropriately for that, according to their mothers and others.

Boys could take an old, wore-out pair of pants and cut the legs off and go swimming but the girls had to have a bathing suit before they were allowed into the water. On occasion out in the country if a group was at a creek fishing, the girls were allowed to go wading in a dress. It wasn’t their fault if they slipped and fell into the deep water and had to swim a little.

There is a huge gully between Jordanville and Herd Street in Tallassee. In the summer months some of the girls would venture down into this gully and swing on vines, dig caves, walk across sewer pipes and do the things the boys had told them about. I am sure their mothers did not know they were doing this because that was not the proper actions of a little lady of the day.

Girls could ride bicycles if they had a girls bike, which does not have a bar across it like a boys bike does. If they rode a boys bike they would have to pull up the dress to straddle the bar and that would have been scandalous.

Back in 1949 and 1950 the physical education teacher at school told the girls they should bring shorts to school and wear them during PE. Well, the boys took PE at the same time and they could not wait to see these high school girls in shorts. This all ended when the mothers and some girls protested. They were allowed to wear dresses to play the sports at PE such as softball, volleyball and basketball.

Sometime in the early 1950s the girls started wearing blue jeans with the cuffs rolled up with a man’s or boys shirt. They didn’t wear this attire to school at the beginning but on the weekend when a group would go to Tubby’s or to the movies they dressed in the jeans. These were not the form-fitting jeans as we see today but plain dungarees that at first were made for men and boys but later designed for girls.

All bathing suits for girls were one piece and more often than not had a skirt on them. Around 1960 the bikini became popular and what a scandal it was. Little did they know how tame they were compared to what they wear today. If they had put out a Victoria’s Secret catalog in those days it would have brought on a national outrage.

A group of us antique teenagers meet on Monday nights at Hardee’s and we had a discussion on this subject one night. I told them I was going to write an article about it. I gathered from our conversation the women were very much aware of the restrictions put on them because they were girls. I also gathered they broke these rules quite often and enjoyed the freedom of it all.

I can still hear it now as a mother tells her daughter, “Young lady, you don’t want to be known as a hussy do you? Be careful and act like a lady at all times. If it is fun don’t do it.”

Do you remember those days?