The following are anecdotal stories retold by those that experienced situations involving mixed-gender swimming wherein the males were required to be nude. We cannot verify the veracity of these stories; however their authors assure us they are authentic. Should you have any stories you would like to see posted, please let us know by emailing us. We will, however, use discretion as to the plausibility and interest of the story before posting. We want to thank the authors that have contributed to this story board and have volunteered to provide us edits and clarification when asked to do so.
Jumper-Swim Gives History
From: ClutchFans (Houston Rockets) Discussion Forum
The best explanation we have found on the Internet explaining the evolution of why men and boys swam nude at the Y and other public pools, and, why the practice was eventually drowned out (no pun intended), was discussed by "Jumper-Swim", a 61-year-old swimmer and scuba diver who lived through this period. Based upon our own research, his accounts and detailed, historical observations are the best and most accurate we have found anywhere. Reading his discussion below will provide you a strong, solid education on this subject unparalleled by any other we have seen. We have thus created a separate page for recounting of those days:
Orignins of Nude Swimming at Y & Public Schools
Chicago Students Remember Being Told to Strip
Yahoo! Voices: The Demise of High School Nude Swimming in the U.S.
"We did swim naked," confirms Terry, a student at Chicago's Roosevelt High School during the early 60s. "You did what you were told in those days. We never really thought about it too much." Adds another, "No one really made any objection that I know of--the teacher said to do it, so we did." Indeed most early boomers agreed, "This was just the way it was for boys, and we did not give it a second thought."
But the memories are vivid. The first day some men recall being told to take all of their clothes off, and then being marched through showers before entering the pool area, where they were told to line up along the pool edge for roll call. "Lining up for attendance was the worst part," declares one former student. "Once you were in the water it was fine." Others said it was a bit weird at first, but got used to it after a few weeks.
"Adolescents really had no empowerment, and if anyone objected, they would be considered a sissy," says Allen, a 1961 Chicago Public School graduate. "That was the environment then, and we really all wanted to fit in."
Although no good statistics are available, anecdotal evidence suggests the practice was widespread in the U.S., but particularly prevalent in the Midwest, especially large cities like Chicago. While nationally most schools did not have pools, one Wisconsin survey showed two of three high schools with pools employed the policy.
"Most of us didn't talk about it much," says Charlie, a mid-60s student at Amundsen High School in Chicago. "We did not tell our parents or the girls that we swam nude, and really did not talk about it amongst ourselves either. But I was embarrassed about it."
'Old Swimmin' Hole * of Riley 's Immortal Poem Far Different From Tiled Tanks"
Remembering stories of skinny-dipping in Indianapolis swimming holes in the late 1800s
Published in the Indianapolis Star, Friday, August 5, 1921
In 1921, the Indianapolis Star published an article on long-forgotten swimming holes that had been popular in earlier decades. Men that had played in these waters in their youth during the Victorian era (latter 1800s) recalled their experiences. The article discusses how boys of all ages would skinny dip there, and other nearby swimming holes.
Mr. Harry Hubbarvi indicated: "I can recall hearing of the older boys who slipped away to this old swimming hole and played hooky from school in order to dive there In the waters, using the high bank as a place to dive from."
And Mr. A. Jones remembers, "I guess that boys of all ages have enjoyed swimming. Some of the boys then, as now, were more daring." He then adds, "Those were great old days. We didn't even have such things as Annette Kellermann bathing suits in those days, for. in fact, we didn't have any bathing suits except our birthday suit, as we called our nakedness. The women were not much stuck on swimming stunts, at it was not considered ladylike as If Is today."
The above statements by Messrs. Hubbarvi and Jones as well as the rest of the article clearly evidence four things. First, boys of all ages skinny dipped in the swimming holes. Second, none of the boys owned swim suits and all swam naked. Third, females were present with the boys. And forth, females did not do any of the swimming "stunts", as they were not considered ladylike. This last point is important as it echoes sentiments of those days, and that is, the females' deportment of that era was dictated by only doing things that were "ladylike" . As discussed elsewhere on this site and in other stories on this page, it was not considered ladylike for females to swim in anything other than bathing costumes that fully covered the entire body. Yet we know that although this expectation was placed on the girls, it was common for boys to swim stark naked from head to feet, often when in the presence of girls.
The article includes rare vintage photographs that were found that show people enjoying the swimming holes 35 to 40 years prior to the publication (about 1880 to 1885). A number of females can be seen on the banks and in the water in Victorian era swim costumes that are one piece with skirts to down to the knees, with all boys being naked.
This article is one of the many included in the download link for related historical documentation:
Christine Brenton - Peeping in on Boys Swim Class
Retrieved from Topix Forum and edited per her permission
I can verify with certainty that during my day, boys did indeed swim nude during their swim class. I'm 66 and remember when growing up our high school had a swimming pool, although not all did. All students were required to take swimming classes and there was no secret that boys did not wear suits. Why the boys were denied swimsuits whereas the girls were provided them was never properly explained. The girls were given flannel bathing suits that were about as attractive as a potato sack. Of course, boys were never allowed in the pool area when the girls were using it, and girls were never allowed in when the boys were there. But a rather not-so-hidden secret was that we did not need to go into the pool area to see everything. The girls locker room had metal double doors that opened into the pool area and inside the door was a short corridor into our locker room. At the time our school was quite old, and there was a gap between the doors. The internal corridor leading to the doors could not be seen from the locker room, so we could be in there without being seen by all the other girls, and especially, or our P.E. instructor. When one of us pressed our face into the door and peered through the crack, we could see the entire pool area as though the doors were not even there. At the beginning of our P.E. class, the girls were given an extended period of time to put on our outfits for volleyball or whatever the day's agenda included. Some of us would race to put on our gym clothes and be in the corridor at the exact time the boys would enter the pool area, and then we would peek through the gap in the doors and watch the boys enter from their locker room - every single boy nude. I particularly enjoyed roll call when the boys lined up on the opposite side of the pool facing our door allowing us to see each boy whom we knew very well stark naked from head to foot leaving nothing to our imagination. The boys' coach, who I believe had been a sergeant in the Korean War, was very tough on the boys and didn't seem to care when any of the boys that complained about their suspicions of us spying on them as we could hear him say "buck it up!" when one of the boys mentioned that the girls were peeping. Needless to say, it was quite the anatomy lesson for us girls. I marveled at witnessing the varying stages of development the boys I knew so well were going through while learning which boy was well into puberty, and which was not. It was also the first time in my life I ever noticed an erection when one of the boys apparently was unable to control his arousal, while the other boys teased and laughed at him - I must say, us girls were secretly joining in that laughter. I truly believe the girls' P.E. instructor knew what we were doing as I heard her once joking with another girls' coach about it, maybe thinking it was just our satisfying our natural curiosity and thus permitted us to have our fun. I realize doing it was not right, but honestly, if I had it to do all over again, I would...it was too much fun.
Carol Discusses Peeping in on Boys Swim Class
From: Alumni Forum, West Junior High, Duluth Minnesota
Carol (alumini): Lisa and I were laying on the floor in the girls' shower room looking under the door when the boys were in swimming (I didn't have any brothers so this was all new to me). Mrs. Turnbloom caught us, but I don't remember what she did with us, probably sent us to the principal. I don't remember what boys were in that class, probably because I wasn't looking at faces. ha
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
By Mark Twain - pages 136 through 137
In his renowned novel first published during the Victorian period in 1884, Mark Twain tells a story of two boys, Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, and their adventures. Through a first person retelling, Huckleberry Finn gives us a look at the culture of the times in rural America. As this website evidences, open nudity of boys in popular swimming areas was common in many European watering spots throughout the Victorian Era; yet, attire for boys was more conservative in America at most of the popular seaside areas and lakes. However, this was rarely the case in rural areas where both boys and men preferred enjoying the water completely nude. Following is an excerpt from Twain's classic book where Finn tells us of his experiences in drifting on their raft down the mighty river, and provides us a glimpse into that era when boys would always opt to be naked whenever they were around water:
"Soon as it was night, out we shoved; when we got her out to about the middle, we left her alone, and let her float where-ever the current wanted her to; then we lit the pipes and dangled our legs in the water and talked about all kinds of things - we was always naked, day and night, whenever the mosquitoes would let us - the new clothes Buck's folks made for me was too good to be comfortable, and besides I didn't go much on clothes, nohow."
Remembering the Days at Kennedy High School, Chicago
From: Commentary Blog "A Hole in the Head"
I went to Kennedy High School, which was a fairly new school relative to the other ancient structures in the city. It was built around 1962. Connected at one end of the high school, attached by a bridge, was Kinzie Elementary. Since I was 4 until I was 18, those two buildings were where I grew up. Rumors about naked swim began to surface when I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade. And we knew it was true… because we could see them; The swimming pool's slightly frosted windows looked out on our playground. Year after year during recess and lunches we would watch the parade of naked boys walking past the window, occasionally they would lean back against the glass and we could see their squished buttocks. It terrified me. Someday I would be on the other side of that glass.
...Then from there into the large room where the pool was, again in lines of four or five. Some of the guys were really natural with their nakedness. Wrestling with each other, shoving and pushing. I don't know when I first knew that something was different about me sexually, but I'm sure it when I was seeing guys that I had just sat next to in history and now we were front to butt with each other going to jump in the pool. Dare I say at age 14 I had definite stirrings, although I didn't know what they were? I don't think at that time I could have given it a word. But we were all comparing ourselves to each other. Big dicks, small dicks. There were two obese twins whose genitals were completely covered by rolls of fat. I can't imagine what this experience did to them. Other boys with big members proudly knew that they had something special and would strut around with semi-boners telling of how they screwed their girl friends last night.
...In that room was a huge Weeki Watchee picture window that looked into the swimming pool. Are there 8mm films of years of naked teenage boys swimming somewhere? The other thing was there was stadium seating that looked over the swimming pool. This was never locked and years later we learned that it was common for the girls to sneak up there and watch the naked boys.
The entire blog can be read here: Naked Boys Swimming
Boys Skinny Dipping --- A Mom's Memories
From: Susan, May 26, 2000, re-posted on Visual Sensations for Women Forum
I’ve read a number of the posts here about males nude in front of females, and thought I’d share my observations as a 50-something woman, divorced, with two grown children. There are exceptions, but I believe that most males enjoy being nude in front of the opposite sex, whereas most females would find it embarrassing. Deep down, I think that males equate nudity with power, but females equate it with vulnerability. My father and brothers were nude in front of my mom and me so many times growing up I couldn’t begin to count. But, they never saw us nude---to this day I’ve never seen my mother nude either.
When I was married, my husband and I always allowed our son and his male friends to skinnydip in our backyard pool, even when our daughter and her girlfriends were present (they always wore suits). Everyone---boys and girls alike---had a good time, and there was never a problem. We never forced nudity upon our son or his friends, it was their choice. They knew swimming nude usually meant that their sister and I (and other girls and moms) would see them nude, yet they went in nude in spite of (or perhaps because of) the presence of females.
Occasionally I’d ask my son and the other boys if they weren’t embarrassed by the nudity. After all, these were girls they’d see at school and the mothers of their friends. But, they couldn’t have cared less. He said once that he enjoyed seeing one of our daughter’s friends in the hall at school, knowing she’d seen him naked. He also said that being naked in front of the girls was a lot of fun. Our daughter, on the other hand, would have died of embarrassment if a boy ever saw her topless, much less nude! She and her girlfriends received a good anatomy lesson over the years, seeing boys in a non-sexual, non-threatening environment.
Mother Uses Nephew to Educate Her Girls on Boys' Anatomy
Told by Talon (Tim S.) on Visual Sensations 4 Women Forum
I'm from the old school having grown up in the 1940s and 1950s, and probably older than most of you. I couldn't care less whether you believe these stories such as the one Alan told or not, but what is clear to me is that the world we live in today is quite different than when I was growing up in the northwest. The issue about "double-standard" has to be taken in context. I remember talking with my grandmother when she lamented about not being able to vote because she was a woman, even though she was a single parent raising three children. And her drunkard good-for-nothing husband had taken all the money forcing her to have two jobs - doing laundry and cleaning floors for wealthy families. Yet society felt he had the right to vote whereas she did not. But if that fact had not been so documented, many of you would never believe such double standards happened, and, that it cut both ways.
My story growing up was that I had two brothers and a sister. I remember being naked constantly as a child parading about in all my glory, as were my brothers. Those were simpler times. If I wanted to wear clothes, I had to put them on myself, and as I got older I did. The school I went to did not have a swimming pool, and I can't think of any schools in my community that did. But I do remember a situation similar to the article in Dear Abby posted in this forum wherein the mom felt "boys shouldn't keep secrets kept from girls" and that is was "proper" for girls to see what boys looked like naked while concurrently believing it was very "improper" for boys to know what girls looked like nude. In my experience, it was not terribly uncommon for a mother to use the nudity of a boy to allow her girls to get an education on boys' anatomy while at the same time denying the boys the same opportunity they desperately wanted. I know this because I personally experienced it.
My specific experience happened when I went to stay with my cousins for a few days during my summer break from school. My aunt had large place out in the country and four daughters. They ranged in age from about 8 to 14 at the time, and I was around 13 or so, if I remember correctly. For a couple of days all I can remember was how hot and humid it was, and the aunt constantly promising to take us swimming if we behaved and did our chores. Finally, the day came wherein she kept her promise and took the four of us to a lake about 30 minutes away. When we got there I observed a few families with their blankets spread out. We walked past them, and down a dirt trail until we came to a bank on a river that fed into the lake, the thick brush assured us we had some privacy. My aunt spread out the blanket and when the girls took off their shirts and pants I then realized they had all worn their swimsuits on underneath. But the mom never forewarned me about wearing a swimsuit, so all I had on under my shorts was just my briefs.
I was too embarrassed to let them see me in my underwear, so I was about to follow them in while still in my shorts. I then heard my aunt say "Timmy, don't go in like that, you'll get your clothes wet". She then told me to take my shorts off, and I reluctantly did while blushing knowing the girls could see my tidy white briefs. As I was about to dart into the water, my aunt told me to also remove the underwear. I was downright shocked to hear such a command and was in disbelief, until she repeated it. I was extremely nervous about even the possibility the girls could see me totally nude as I was already at an age where sexual interaction between girls and boys was becoming more important, and thus nudity meant something more than it did when I was a toddler. Since that age, I had never been naked in front of any females, even my mother. I questioned her about it and argued it wasn't fair that I had to be naked when the girls weren't. But she said that girls are different than boys, and she didn't want me to have wet underpants for the drive back as it would ruin the car seats, and she didn't have a bathing suit for me. At that age, you are required to relinquish to older folks and not question their authority or whether they are right, but instead to simply have faith that they are always right and comply with their demands, so this is exactly what I did even though I dreaded doing it. I ended up dutifully obeying her and nervously removing my underwear.
I remember being absolutely humiliated. For a brief moment I stood there completely stark naked while the four girls stopped splashing about and turned looking at me with a wide-eyed look of intense interest and pleasure in seeing me naked, which heightened my embarrassment and prompted me to immediately hide my genitals with my hands. I believe their seeing my embarrassment of my predicament only increased their interest in my awkward exposure. I realize now that they probably had never seen a naked boy, particularly since they had no brothers. Given I was attempting to prevent them from seeing my genitals, it no doubt piqued their curiosity and interest all the more in being able to see what I was hiding underneath my hands. As I looked at my aunt, she was looking at me no doubt recognizing my embarrassment as I stood theRe hiding my privates from her and the girls, yet a slight smile on her face told me she was now content that I had obeyed her instructions to strip completely naked. For me, it was clear she was not only unconcerned about how my predicament had made me feel, but maybe a bit amused by it.
I quickly ran in and we splashed about in the water for a while while I kept my bottom half well below water level until it was time to go. When my aunt said it was time to leave, at a moment when I knew the girls weren't looking I raced out of the water covering my genitals and grabbed an available towel to cover myself. I dried off and slipped quickly into my underwear relieve the ordeal was over. The double standard became even more obvious when the aunt wanted the girls to remove their suits, dry off and dress for the trip back home. She had them do this behind some thick bushes while turning to me and telling me to walk a away a bit, and when I did turn briefly to see them obscured by the bushes, the girls complained I was looking wherein my aunt turned around and angrily told me to turn around and not peek or I would get into trouble. This wasn't the only time I had experienced the double standard, as in the following days when I inadvertently walked in on the two younger girls while they were dressing and still in their underwear. My aunt scolded me that I should never walk into the rooms without knocking first. A bit baffled, I asked what the big deal was and she responded that boys should never be in the presence of girls unless they are completely dressed, which again gets back to the issue of it being improper for boys to ever see girls in any other way. To that end, she made sure the modesty of the girls were always protected during my entire stay with my never once seeing even the youngest in any manner than fully clothed.
Although all of this seemed puzzling to me, it did not affect me as intensely as my next experience during my stay. A few days later we again made the trip to the lake. What happened occurred in such a matter-of-fact like situation by the girls' mother that I never realized what may have been going on at the time, and by today's standards, would not be considered a very strange and inappropriate thing. As with the first time, I was again expected to swim in the nude, but this time it was a bit less intimidating having already done so previously. Knowing what to expect, I undressed behind a tree while still trying to avoid their inquisitive eyes by hiding my genitals when on land and kept my waist below the water level. But things were about to change.
At one point, the youngest girl walked a bit up the bank to look at a squirrel climbing around on a tree, which drew our attention. The rest of the girls left the water to see, and too curious to stay in, I followed them up onto the banks standing a few feet behind the girls still covering my privates while thinking they would not pay attention to me standing immediately behind them and now completely out of the water.
I remember distinctly the youngest saying "it's a boy squirrel, you can tell because it has tickles". I had no idea what she meant, but the oldest girl laughed as did the mom, who was sitting about 50 feet away reading a book. The oldest said "you mean testicles! - boys have testicles!" and laughed. The youngest seemed to be puzzled by the terminology she was using, so the oldest turned to me and said "You see Tim is a boy, and he has testicles too!" And they all turned to look at me as I stood there stark naked in their full view from my head to feet but still covering my genitals. All of a sudden my abject shyness turned to panic - they were now not only taking an intense notice of me, but also the subject of their conversation was my genitals as their curiosity resulted in their wanting to sneak a peek at them. I'm sure my face was beet red with embarrassment and I didn't say anything hoping the conversation would change and we'd be right back in the water again. But I then heard the dreaded words from the oldest sister with her smiling widely as she said "go on Tim - show Maggie your testicles."
I looked at the mother to rescue me from this embarrassing moment as she clearly heard every word of the conversation and waited for her to instruct her daughters that such a request was inappropriate, but apparently was not taking an issue to the request. She simply looked at us briefly not saying anything with that same slight smile of amusement - her eyes were communicating a look like: "well Tim, are you going to show them your testicles or not?" It was as though she not only condoned of the girls interest in my genitals, but wanted me to allow them an opportunity to closely inspect them. Although I don't know what was going on in her mind, the mother's actions, or rather, inaction, suggested to me she expected me to comply with her daughter's demand. She then turned back to her book as though not interested in what we were discussing, almost as if she didn't want her presence to stop the progression of events and the girls getting their way in my displaying to them my genitals. In retrospect when I think back about that day, as I got older it became to suspect the mother may have staged all this such that I would end up satisfying her girls' curiosity and have a way as to further their education in male anatomy by using my naked body.
The older sister, who was a characteristically bossy and forceful, repeated the request, but more forcefully as if commanding me to stand at attention and present my testicles to them. She then said "move your hands so we can see" , reached over and forcefully grabbed my wrists then pulled them away to completely expose my genitals to the girls. I quickly covered them again, but these girls were not reticent about testing their authority on me. Absent help from their mom, I began to feel my objection was futile and finally surrendered to the overwhelming pressure of the girls surrounding me, and withdrew my hands while presenting them my penis and balls for their inspection. They all peered down at them with eyes wide and big smiles as they bent over with their faces just a couple of feet away. After standing there frozen for a few moments I felt I had to somehow act in a manner that made it seem like I was not being subjugated to their control, but instead that this was all fine and dandy and normal and all...no big deal, and, that I was perfectly okay with it all, which was my trying to put me on an even keel with them, and my full acceptance of their request at that precise moment seemed to be the best way to do this. Yet my abject embarrassment and uncomfortableness of the situation must have been obvious to them, which probably increased the intensity of their interest. In a weak attempt to show I didn't care, I thrust my pelvis forward while lifting up my penis and prominently presented my balls to them saying "Okay then, here are my testicles - go ahead and look at them.". Nervously I stood their frozen with my naked balls standing ready for their close inspection. The oldest then pointed with the tip of her finger touching them telling the others "see, those are Tim's testicles. Boys like say that they are their' balls' ". The younger girls giggled at the term, the the youngest said "nu uh, mom, are those Tim's balls?" The mom looked briefly at us as though only half paying attention with a slight chuckle and said "Yes honey, boys also call them that" . Again, looking back on that moment, it is now clear the mother was pleased that the girls were given the opportunity to explore my genitals, and were capitalizing on that opportunity.
As I continued to hold up my penis while all of us looked down at my balls, the oldest then pointed and touched the middle of my shaft and said "and that is Tim's penis", and I then let it down allowing them to also examine it as well. I'm circumcised so while looking at the head of my dick one commented how it looked like a mushroom, and they all giggled while I let them touch and squeeze it. I tried to fake laughter too suggesting it was all acceptable to me as I was participating in their fun, but I don't think it was convincing in hiding my deep embarrassment. Any modesty as well as dignitary I had been able to preserve with these girls was now gone for ever. I resigned myself to letting them touch and prod my penis and balls to their heart's content hoping it would all be over and done soon. One squeezed the head of my penis between her thumb and forefinger while another pulled at the skin on my balls. I then let them feel the balls themselves and when one said you can hurt a boy by squeezing them, one of the girls did just that making me yelp and resulting in more of their giggles. It was only upon my making certain that each and every girl had had as much opportunity she desired to look at, touch and play with my genitals and that their interest was being redirected that I turned and went back into the river alone and still quivering from the embarrassment that I still feel today. From that moment forward during the rest of my stay with them, I lost all modesty. The girls would come into the bathroom as I showered leaving the door open, which now was a non-event as even I would no longer worry about shutting the door as I dried off and upon finishing would walk stark naked down the hall to my room to dress unconcerned about the girls' seeing me. And I think they too may have somewhat lost their curiosity at that point.
What the girls did was to be expected - kids do such things and I know most of us play in such ways as kids when exploring our body parts. However, what was so strange by today's standards was the mother being not only an accomplice, but the initiator of the circumstances that provided her daughters such an opportunity. I remember her glancing up from her book and watching us behind those sequined pointy sun glasses women wore in the 50s, not saying a damned thing but instead upon seeing their exploring my genitals smiling with amusement and approval. If her goal was to allow those girls to learn what a boy's genitals look and feel like, she had succeeded, and I believe her smile while watching proved her satisfaction in that.
Ironically, after that final incident with the girls by the river, I no longer harbored the anxiety and fear of them seeing me in the raw. I guess it was a combination of desensitization and resignation, because after they had seen it all and in a manner that left nothing else to be modest about, there was no longer any use in hiding my nudity. During the remaining days of my summer vacation, I remember not taking my clean clothes with me to the bathroom to shower because afterward, I'd dry off, hang my towel and walk down the hallway naked to dress in my room. In fact, one time I saw the girls playing Chutes and Ladders downstairs, which was a favorite of mine, so rather than get dressed I instead descended down the stairs still buck naked and played with them. In an odd way, it seemed that when I was naked, I was less an outsider to their girlish gatherings, maybe because of my exposure and vulnerability made me less threatening as a boy, or alternatively, they still got a giggle out of seeing my genitals bobble about as we played, - I don't know, but it for me it was more enjoyable when they embraced my presence in such a way. Even the mother made no issue of it when she saw I was sitting there naked playing the game, probably feeling that allowing my remaining in the nude was her rewarding me for previously being compliant to her demands at the river. The only time she made an issue of my nudity was at the dinner table, which was understandable.
Until I read other similar accounts, particularly the stories of others such as Dear Abby and other columnists, I had never fully connected the dots on that moment. What further underscores the different culture and attitude prior to the 1960s was when I finally got home and told my mother expecting her to chime in with criticism about what had happened (I left out the details of their touching me). Rather than question her sister having me be naked in front of the girls, her response was "I don't know about that.! That water could have given you an ear infection" but my nudity was such a non-issue to her that she didn't bother to mention it in her response. She was obviously very accepting of it as well.
But when it initially happened and I was yet to cross that threshold of being comfortable with my nudity around the girls, I remember the embarrassment and feeling of betrayal of the aunt allowing her daughters to explore my private areas. That period of inspection seemed like an eternity, although it probably could have been measured in minutes. But in retrospect given what I now know, I do not fault her for it. It was not done out of maliciousness or a sadistic attempt to humiliate me but to help her daughters learn and grow up in the only way accessible to a rural family during that era. Further, she and her daughters treated me like a beloved guest the rest of the time always seeing to my needs. If I could go back in time, I'd not change a thing other than lose the silly embarrassment of it all, and be a bit more understanding and accommodating.
But yes, times are different now and the Internet provides all such education (and perhaps too much) to kids these days.
Early Days at Deep Bottom Hole, Wallace, North Carolina
Story by: Lenora Jones - "Days of the Young Souls"
I grew up in the 1950s in a very rural part of North Carolina in Duplin County, a few miles from Wallace. Cape Fear River ran about a mile from our home and offered us opportunities to swim during those times when the pressing summer heat was unbearable. Bear in mind, air conditioning wasn't a widespread luxury that it is today. I have many fond memories of those summer days swimming with the other kids in the area.
Cape Fear is a blackwater river which on one bend of it had a sandy bank and on the opposite side was Deep Bottom Hole. Deep Bottom was so deep that none of us could ever touch the bottom. The deep water and sandy shores provided us rope swings as well as a great place to lay in the sun.
My first time there, I was about 12 years old. Upon my arrival, I was surprised seeing that not a single boy swimming was wearing swimming trunks. It was just the way it was back then, and have heard that even today, skinny dipping is still done by the few brave souls that refuse to let tradition die. But back then, it wasn't just a few of the boys but instead all boys swam nude at Deep Bottom, at least when I was present. Many of them came from poor families who viewed bathing suits as a luxury only rich boys could experience.
But I had no problem at all with the many boys frolicking about me naked, nor did they seem to mind that I and a couple of other girls their age were swimming and playing in the same waters with them. Unlike today when kids can see nudity by simply turning on their computers or television, in my time the only time I saw a nude male was either in a book on classical paintings or natives in a National Geographic, so having the opportunity to view so many boys with their entire bodies completely revealed provided me an education about parts of the boys' anatomy usually kept hidden. My curiosity was also fueled by growing up in a highly conservative family where such things were never discussed. The boys could not have cared less about my presence and my preoccupation in looking at they genitals. In fact, some would stand right in front of me and not even turn around as they urinated, wherein I'd watch the entire spectacle in amazement. If penis envy exists, it was at those times when I saw how conveniently they would wield their penises in my direction and let loose as quickly as just turning on a sink faucet, followed by a reflexive shake or two then a quick bolt back to their buddies. With us girls, relieving ourselves was a process that had to be thought about and planned in advance with great care, particularly since modesty demanded we do so where even the crickets could not spy upon us as we did, and we had the added burden of keeping clothes clean and dry as they wrapped our knees together. The alternative for those of us girls that had not worn our suits would be to get our clothes wet while we waded into the water as none of the girls would dare to be so brazen as the boys and disrobe. The boys never liked the modesty the girls displayed and sure made a strong effort to convince us to also take our clothes off, but of course we never did.
But perhaps the part of the boys' anatomy that most captivated me wasn't their penises, but instead their testicles. As I watched their balls bobbing about as they swung from the rope or running around and jumping into the river, I could not figure out their purpose. I even ventured to ask one of the boys about it, and he laughed so loud I was embarrassed for asking. No one had explained to me anything about sex, so one of the older boys there explained how their sole purpose was to produce sperm, but as I looked at his as he explained it my pondering the matter only intensified my curiosity. It wasn't until a few years later I learned of such things, but it wasn't from my parents.Main Article the Letter References: New York Times - Fashion & Style
Catherine Talks of Her Aunt Virginia
Taken from a Yahoo women's group
I remember having a conversation with my Aunt Virginia when I was young regarding growing up in the early years of the twentieth century. Virginia was actually my great grandmother's sister, and was the "black sheep" in the family as she did not fit the
conservative values of the family. She told me that before prohibition she was a "flapper" and sang and danced while drinking and smoking with men, something that ostracized her from the rest of her family. But this made me like her all the more as she was always fun, and when I was told to stay in my room as punishment for something, she would sneak in and slip me some cake and a hug.
Aunt Virginia told me about growing up in the days before World War I in an open and candid way I would never have heard from anyone else. When I asked her about when she first learned about sex and boys, she began by telling me how the Calvinistic Doctrines followed by her family meant they were to learn things based upon Bible allegories to explain the facts of life. She said, however, that her real education of boys' anatomy came interestingly during a trip she took to Denmark to stay with cousins at a small chateau their family had near the coast. During that vacation she said she was flabbergasted when she learned swimming customs on some of the European shores were quite different than where she was brought up, and that it was normal for all boys to swim nude. When she told me I laughed in disbelief, and she smiled and said it was indeed true. I asked her if she and her cousins skinny dipped with the boys, but she said she did not as the standards for girls was different in that all girls wore one-piece swimming suits while all the boys were completely naked. When I asked her about whether it bothered her that the boys were nude, she just laughed and said "No, I was all for it!"She then described one point in time when playing in the dunes with some of the boys and how she received quite the education on boys. She said it was when she learned that not all boys look the same down there, and that when she looked at the penises on the boys some were circumcised whereas others are not, yet she did not know at the time what it was all about. She said two of the boys stood side-by-side and presented their penises for to the girls to look at, and when she asked why one of the boys had foreskin and the other didn't, the circumcised boy said it was because he was Jewish. This then led to her telling me about Jewish customs, which was quite bizarre yet interesting for a young protestant girl, particularly when she told me about a "bris". She joked about how they could tell which families at the beach were Jewish as all she had to do was look at the boys' penises.
As she told me these things, I could not fathom what it would be like to be a 12 year old girl at such a beach with boys my age running about in such a state, as my parents would have had a conniption. In fact, as she told me, I suspected she was pulling my leg. But when I asked my grandmother, she confirmed it and rolled her eyes saying "That's your Aunt Ginny for you!"
The Good Old Days When Men Swam Nude
Letter to the Editor from Jody Hudson - New York Times
To the Editor:
As a graduate of a high school with a swimming program (Bayside High School, Queens, class of 1957), I have often looked back with a sense of wonder and slight bewilderment on the requirement in those days that boys had to swim in the nude (as I recall, the girls had to wear scratchy wool one-piece suits).
I thought nothing of it at the time, and I believe that that was also the custom at the Y and at the Boys Club.
Over the years, I have mentioned this to people and have been met with reactions ranging from simple disbelief to suspicion.It was most reassuring to read that male swimming in the nude was ''commonplace just 50 years ago in New York City'' and that it has a long tradition.
New Bern, N.C., April 28, 2005
Posted Here: New York Times - Letters to the Editor
Mom's Watching "Y" Swimming Classes
Taken from a now defunct swimming blog (thanks to Kevin for providing) Yahoo women's group
"I do not believe women were allowed to watch adult males swim but when it came to the boys they most definitely were allowed to watch their sons. As for the other boys, quite often, they had been seen naked long before they were observed at the "Y" pool. Another point to this is the era when mothers stayed home and raised the family. It also required these same women to drive their sons around to all the various activities they might have been in.
Hate to differ with the ones that say it never occurred but I do remember watching my brother in the viewing area of the pool, which was like a balcony for the Y in New Westminster, B.C. with my own mother. I also remember one time my brother showing up at this view room also naked."
Coleman's second post:
"The Y where my brother swam was in New West B.C. It definitely did have a viewing room. One of the reasons more woman watched than men was that in the era we are talking about men worked and the majority had day time jobs. Our father had a job that took him out of town for several days at a time. When he was in he spent as much time as he could with his boys so there would be times he would be watching or more correctly both parents would be there.
I also don't think our family was an exception for the era. I really do not remember any embarassement with being naked in front of our own parents or parents of friends. One has to remember who wiped their buns for the first few years of their lives:) To me it is no different today. You take your kids to the pool to learn to swim or be on a swim team. As a parent you have a vested interest in how your son is doing. Why would mothers of years gone by not want to watch their kids. I think one has to be realistic regarding these matters."
Sheep's Green at Cambridge
University of Cambridge Research;
Statements by Gwen Raverat - 1952 (Period Piece)
In the area around the University of Cambridge, England, there lies a bucolic semi-rural meadowland known as Coe Fen. On its western border is the Cam River, and on the opposite banks are the flat meadows known as Sheep's Green. During the mid 19th century, Sheep's Green became immensely popular for swimming by men and women. In 1877, a local resident, John Hodson, built Hodson's Folly, a structure that could allow him the ability to monitor his fishery while also keeping a watchful eye on his daughters as they swam in the river. Mixed-gender swimming occurred in the 19th century, but only the stronger female swimmers were allowed to join the men in the deeper waters. However, in 1896, the genders were separated when the city authorities built female-only bathing sheds in a more secluded spot across from Hodson's Folly. Gender separation then continued throughout the town's swimming areas until after WWII, and it wasn't until 1966 that mixed-gender swimming areas were once again popular.
As evidenced by the many other reports and articles on this website, prior to 1896, mixed-gender swimming was not uncommon at Sheep's Green. As this Cambridge Research piece indicates "While women bathed in voluminous costumes, before the 20th century it was usual for men and boys to swim naked." As Gwen Raverat (grand-daughter of Charles Darwin) described in Period Piece, her account of a Cambridge childhood in the 1890s: “All summer, Sheep’s Green and Coe Fen were pink with boys, as naked as God made them; for bathing drawers did not exist then: or at least, not on Sheep’s Green.”
Ms. Raverat obviously experienced first hand walking about the shores of Sheep's Green and Coe Fen as stark naked men and boys enjoyed bathing in the waters all about her. As discussed above in the Research paper, Hodson's own daughters no doubt swam and played in the waters in their "voluminous costumes" while their male play mates were all "naked as God made them". This should not be surprising, given the many photos presented on other pages of this site evidencing the presence of clothed girls playing with naked boys in waters at the seaside, rivers, and, famous places such as Trafalgar Square. But what is more interesting here is the statements that men too enjoyed these same popular banks, also always nude.
The Cambridge Report can be read here: Going With The Slow Flow
Swimming at My Friend's House
Told by "Thomas" - Google Forum
I remember the hot summer days growing up in Kansas City. At the time, not all homes had window air conditioning units as in the 1940s and 1950s, they were still somewhat of a luxury for many folks. When I was about 11 or so, my friend, Reggie, got lucky when his parents installed a play pool for the kids in his backyard. Suddenly, he became quite popular. I remember that when I'd go to his house, his mom would have us boys strip our clothes off and jump in as she watched us from the kitchen window. We were all naked as jay birds as we splashed about having the time of our lives.
Sometimes his sister and her friends would join in on the fun with us. My memory of those times is consistent with the other stories, and that is that the girls were never allowed to enjoy the pool in nature's own but wore their suits. It just wouldn't have been proper for them to be naked around us boys. But for us boys, splashing around buck naked just seemed natural, and not a one of us was concerned about our being that way. I miss those carefree days.
Brothers Enrolling in YMCA Swim Class
Retold by "Mike" - Yellow Fever's Story Board
In 1963 I was just 15 when my family moved from the country into a large town upstate and my mother duly signed both myself and younger brother up for swimming lessons at the YMCA there. I had never been to the YMCA before, and I was amazed at how big a place it was with their own basketball courts, and a big indoor pool area.
My brother and I were checked in at the front office while our mom filled out forms and paid the fees. The man at the desk led us to the locker rooms and we waved goodbye to our mom. Once in the locker room we were shown where to put our clothes, told to undress completely and go straight out to the pool where class was waiting. Both my brother and I were very nervous it being our first time and the fact that we were to be out in the pool naked. We could hear all sorts of noise and as I entered the pool area I was surprised to see how big the pool was. I could see there were several groups of boys in each corner of the pool doing different activities with different coaches.
I noticed that one of the coaches (with the smaller boys group) was a woman! I couldn't see her face, but the unmistakable form of a female figure in a one-piece costume made my heart flutter with nerves. She was gesturing to the group of young boys of about 8 or 9, and I just couldn't believe it. A male coach smiled and approached us both realizing we were not sure where to go. He asked our names and pointed my younger brother in the direction of the female and said he would be in the beginners group because of his age. He also told me to report to her to find out which group I should be in. I was mortified by this and slowly walked toward her with my younger brother, who seemed equally uneasy with his nudity in front of her.
As we approached I noticed that all the boys in her group were young and about my younger brothers age but the group next to her was a group of about ten boys my age all with pubic hair and quite grown up. In fact, as I looked around the pool, I noticed that there were naked boys of all ages about. She saw us both approach and smiled and I was very conscious of the fact that her eyes momentarily glanced down to my penis. She said "hi" and "you must be new here" and again looked me up and down from head to toe.
It was a strange experience I remember. Not even my own Mom had seen me naked for a couple of years and this strange woman was looking at me in the all together. She led us to a small desk at the side and wrote both our names down on a clipboard. It felt strange standing next to her and I was very aware of my own exposed penis in her presence. But she was very professional and directed me across to the next group, which had senior boys like me and, to my relief, a male coach.
At the end of the session, ours was the last group out of the water and we had to file past the same woman as she stood talking to another male coach. Not only was I aware of my own nudity as I walked past her looking but also the fact that the rest of the boys in my group were also all developed boys of 15 or 16, and all naked too! After that first day, I got used to her being there as I am sure all the other boys had. But I have never forgotten that first experience and it is etched in my memory like a movie.
Gary R.: Story of Maggie
Retrieved from Topix Forum
I was born shortly after the great war growing up in the 1950s. The attitudes of that era were markedly different than today. When I was in my early twenties, I dated a single mother who was ten years older than me. And during those times, it was more of an item than today wherein it's common to see older women taking on boys 20 or more years their junior. Her name was Margaret, and she went by "Maggie". Well into her 30s, Maggie still had a wonderful muscular, curvaceous figure due to her having been a competitive swimmer and still keeping in shape.
I once had a very interesting conversation with Maggie, and although it's been years since, I still remember parts of it as it was very surprising at the time, and by today's standards, would be downright news worthy. I'll try to retell it as best as I can.
Maggie had been both a swimming coach for girls as well as a lifeguard when she was younger having worked at a local high school and at community pools. She was one of the first female swim instructors at the local Y. She had a forceful, dominant personality and I believe took delight in instructing others to comply to her demands, which I'm guessing was why her first marriage ended. But she was also beautiful, and knew how to use her looks to get her way.
I remember one conversation we had where she mentioned insisting upon teaching her own boys to swim as opposed to the local school as she didn't trust the school's instructors, who she knew from her previous vocation. Being headstrong, I knew she felt she could do a better job of it, but I asked if teaching boys to swim was different than girls. She then told me that she had been a swim instructor for *both* boys and girls. I thought about her saying that, and remembered that during my swim classes, there were only male instructors. It seemed logical that men instructed boys in physical education and women instructed girls. Further, it struck me as even more odd because even at the time we had the conversation, all the boys' swim classes at the local school and community pools still had rules that boys were never to wear swimsuits in the pools due to filtration problems it created. So I asked her about it.
She told me that she was never the listed swim instructor for boys, but due to frequent shortages of male instructors, it was not uncommon for her to teach the boys' swim classes as well. I then questioned her about how they got around the rules that all boys were to swim naked. To my surprise she said they had not, and that that rule was still enforced even when she taught the class. I asked her "you mean all the boys were naked in your classes?" and she confirmed it. She then explained she only taught the classes when other coaches called in sick or there were no male instructors to teach the course, and she would fill in. She said the community recreation pool center center had no choice because there were policies that no boys could be in the pool area without adult supervision. She also said that policies were set in writing that no boys were to use the pool while wearing a swimsuit. So they had no choice in the matter when she coached the classes, and all boys in her classes had to be naked.
When I asked her how old the boys were, she replied "Most of the time they were just toddlers or children, and it really wasn't a big deal for them as being naked as a child was a natural thing." I then thought about what she said, and asked for clarification..."most of the time?" She then told me that on a few occasions she had to fill in as instructor for the older boys' swim classes as well. When I mentioned how they really must have not liked that, she yet again surprised when she said that the boys were by then well into puberty and interested in girls, and reminded me she had done well in beauty pageants at that time, so it seemed a lot of the boys got a kick out of it out of having her teach the class. I then pressed it indicating that some of the boys still had to have been embarrassed swimming naked in front of a young attractive woman, and her response was that there were indeed some that were, and a couple even tried to wear swimming suits they had brought. I asked her what she did about it and she told me that when it came to rules, she was pretty strict with the boys. When they wore their suits, she would tell them they had to remove them immediately, and they always did. I saw a slight smirk when she said it, and knowing her dominant personality and propensity for ordering guys around, I said, "you must of enjoyed demanding those pubescent boys strip naked in front of you." With a sly look she said ""you know I would never admit to that" , then laughed, which I took as a confirmation she did get some thrill out of exerting such control.
She then said with a sly look that some boys even seemed to enjoy prancing about naked in front of her, and when I asked her how she knew they enjoyed it, she said "You know - unlike girls, when a boy becomes excited, he can't hide it physically." implying that she would observe some of the boys' penises stiffening because of their being naked in her presence. I asked if it bothered her that some boys were sporting erections in front of her, and she giggled and replied "of course not - it was kind of sweet, I didn't mind it at all". I said "right - given how you like younger guys, I bet you gave those 'sweet' boys special attention". She said ""Well, yes...I've always been a tease - you know that!" Given how attractive she was and her mischievous disposition, it wasn't that surprising she would have fun being flirtatious with a lot of those naked boys solely to see if she her teasing them could produce erections on them. I joked with her and said "you know, you can be quite devilish", and she winked at me and we both had a good laugh.
Remember, this was a different era in a more innocent time. Female instructors and male students were never thought of in any kind of sexual way, and having a "professional" swim instructor teach boys back then seemed perfectly appropriate. Given those times, I think there was nothing wrong with teaching the class and having some innocent fun teasing those naked boys, and I'm sure the boys loved the attention as well. In fact, it makes me chuckle thinking about her having such fun.
She was one sexy, beautiful girl, too bad it didn't work out for us.
Tamny Talks of Her Learning About Herself
Taken from a fetish blog for professional dominatrixes and the BDSM community.
The following is a story told by a mature dominatrix about when she first learned of her sadistic desires as a young female when she witnessed a boy get whipped by his mother. Although it would be extremely unusual for such to happen in our times, it demonstrates a significant double standard about punishment and forced nudity between boys and girls during previous generations as it would never have happened if the genders were reversed.
Decades ago the world was less politically correct, and parents would discipline their
kids in ways that would never be permitted today. I
remember one instance when a group of neighborhood kids were in
someone's backyard and a 10-year-old boy we knew threw mud on a
neighbor's wash. The mother saw it from inside the house and was
furious. She approached the boy with a belt in hand, grabbed him by the
upper arm and demanded he immediately drop his pants for a whipping
even though we were all still standing right there in front of him. I remember three neighborhood girls about his age with me watching. I saw the look of terror and embarrassment as he
looked at us girls standing just a few feet in front of him, yet when
he would not remove his under briefs she forcibly pulled them down
yelling "those too!". Not having brothers, I had never seen male
genitalia up close before. So when his briefs were down around his knees I was captured by seeing his genitals prominently displayed in front of us as the mother brought
the belt down striking his backside a number of times very hard with that loud cracking sound leather whips make. Upon each contact he screamed and thrust his pelvis forward at us. At the moment, I was both frightened by this enraged woman while embarrassed by his blatant nakedness, but I then noticed one of the girls next to me giggling as we all
watched his penis and balls flop about while his mother sternly whipped his butt raw from the backside. As he stood there crying, she then turned him
around and marched him into the house without giving him ample time to pull up his pants thus presenting us the opportunity to also look at his naked butt covered with scarlet welts.
I later found that I kept thinking back about it trying to suppress
my real feelings because at the time I felt such feelings made me a bad person. Given
he was quite a loud and sometimes mean boy, his deserving such a
whipping probably made it easier for me to begin to embrace those
feelings without guilt, but I still avoided thinking about it. Then, when I told my mother about the incident, her comments surprised me in that they echoed approval over what happened as as in her mind he was "the terror of the neighborhood" and he had because he had ripped up some of her garden. So I then filled in the detail about the boy's mother pulling his pants and underwear down right in front of us girls, and was pleased when she commented "well, sounds like he got what he deserved". Her last comment was ostensibly her way of telling me she took no exception to my being present and observing his being stripped nude for his punishment. Her tacit approval of my being present turned my feelings of guilt into a different realization, and that is, it was perfectly appropriate for boy's mother to allow me to watch him get stripped naked, including seeing his genitals, and then witness his his butt being whipped. In those days, there was a definite double standard in that one would never all a boy to witness a girl get punished in any manner, but a boy was fair game to be punished in front of a girl in such a humiliating way, but then, people that benefit from double standards don't mind, and I certainly didn't either. I eventually felt no guilt whatsoever and admitted fully to myself that, yes, I not only enjoyed watching him get whipped, but the fact that he was stripped naked and thoroughly humiliated in front of me really made it an exciting yet wonderful thing to experience. And given my life of experience as a dominatrix since childhood, I also believe that
the boy's mother may have been somewhat of a closet dominatrix herself, or
alternatively, had a capacity for sadism as the manner she
administered his whipping was so easy and without reticence.
I remember in times that followed when I observed him getting into
mischief, whereas before I might scold him and try and stop him, now I would do the opposite and dare and encourage
him, or, taunt him to get him angry to where he would follow through with whatever act of mischief he was contemplating, all in hopes his mother would catch him and allow me to once again witness his punishment. And if she failed to catch him, I would select the best time and place to tattle on him such that I would be assured to be present as she forced him to strip naked below the waist and get whipped or paddled. And the thrill of watching him cry and flail about as he would unsuccessfully try to escape that burning whip of leather sent thrills down my spine. It was as though the mother was rewarding my deviousness by allowing me to watch it, which I believe was the case as the mother had no doubt seen me unable to suppress my smiles during his punishment. Her not
taking him away in privacy for the punishment, but instead, allowing me each time to watch it all was most certainly by intent. It was as though she knew I
enjoyed watching it and was her way of rewarding me for tattling on
him. In fact, even when I think she may have known I may had intentionally encouraged or tricked him
into doing the deed just to get him into trouble so I could watch his punishment, she still rewarded me because she possibly saw the sadism of a young dominatrix, something she could relate to, and something she wanted me to embrace and encourage. After all, he certainly deserved it, so why not invite me so that I could enjoy it too? But I may be reading far more intentions were, but if not, I wish I could thank her.
Today, such disciplining is scorned by our society, and I would never punish one of my own boys in such a way. But it would be years before I
understood that some level of sadism lies within all of us, and in the right
circumstance, we can either deny its existence within us or embrace it
as part of who we are and deal with it appropriately. And for me, I not only deal with it, but enjoy it...it's just who I am. The only difference is that today, men actually pay me for that exact same experience, and I love my work!
Experience in Junior High/High School - Administrative Assistant
Told by Agnes S. - Google Forum
When I had graduated from high school in the late 1950s, I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so I found a job as an administrative assistant for a local unified school district wherein both junior high and high school classes were held at the same school in the Chicago area. I worked in the main office as well as the athletic office assisting in mostly clerical activities, which meant a lot of filing. The school had an indoor pool, and in those days, the boys were all required to take swim classes in the nude, although the girls wore color-coded bathing suits, depending upon size. For the girls, it must have been humiliating having to advertise to the world their body size through color code. But for the boys, the humiliation must have been far worse given that their entire bodies were presented completely uncovered to everyone else in the class to see and judge.
The pool area had an office that overlooked the pool. The office was never used and became a repository for old file boxes. The boxes filled the room, and part of my duties included finding places to store old boxes, or an some occasions, finding an old file for one reason or another. This meant I would have to go into the old office from time to time. After a few weeks, I heard a swim class being conducted in the pool area below, and without thinking about it, I looked out of the small windows of the office and to my shock and surprise, I saw a line of naked high school boys standing at the pool edge during roll call. I jumped back away from the window shocked at the unexpected sight. I quickly got the files I was looking for and left.
Over time, I had to go back into the old office many times and eventually became braver. There were two column of boxes against the windows, which I turned diagonal to each other with a space in between that concealed me from any view below, and because the office lights were off, I was able to watch the class without concern about being seen. Unlike today whereby anyone can get on the Internet and see whatever they want, being a 19 year-old girl in the 1950s meant you never had an opportunity to see nude men outside of art galleries and your wedding night. So I have to admit, it was too much of a temptation to satisfy my curiosity, and over the next year or so, I was able to see the boys in all their glory on many occasions, and it was quite an education observing which ones were developed, and which ones weren't. During one specific class I remember particularly, I saw one of the boys who was known to be mentally slow (today he no doubt would have some type of diagnosis or medical condition for special needs), standing there in line facing my direction. My my eyes gravitated to his rather large, penis pointing straight out and upward in a full erection. Upon seeing this, the other boys burst into laughter and were teasing him about it. He turned red and was certainly humiliated, but was unable to articulate any intelligent response to the onslaught of harsh jokes and ridicule from the boys. The coach seemed unconcerned too. I really felt sorry for him.
I often think back on those days and the many beautiful boys I was able to view in all their splendid glory.
Writer Remembers Incident Similar to Dear Abby Article
Email received from "William" after visiting this site
I was immensely pleased to see someone put in a tremendous level of effort in telling the real history of this subject. You have documented in great detail many things, and your site even offers its readers verification through their own research - how brilliant! I understand how folks might doubt the stories of what happened back then, as I have personal experiences that I have told about my upbringing that many have also doubted.
In particular, I was downright floored when I read the Dear Abby articles, particularly the ones where the mothers thought it a good idea to require the boys to swim nude in front of the girls specifically to provide the girls an education as to boys anatomy - all the while arguing it would be improper for boys to view girls in such a state. I personally experienced this double standard when growing up, and it wasn't until I read those articles that I was able to verify I was not alone in my experience.
My story was growing up in a bedroom community outside of Kansas City. It was in the early 1960s, and we boys were required to swim nude during swimming classes at our school. Unlike some of the articles, I was never bothered by females entering the pool area because I can honestly say it never happened during the years I participated in those swimming courses. Our swimming coach was male, and unlike posts on some of the other forums claiming otherwise, he never was nude, nor did he ever get in the pool while the boys were there.
However, I do distinctly remember when I was about 11 or so, I would go swimming at our neighbor's pool. The family had two boys and three girls ranging in age from about 8 through 15, if I remember correctly. The boys, who were around my age, always swam naked, even while the sisters were in the pool. But similar to the Dear Abby article, I specifically remember the mother responding to my asking why the girls didn't swim nude also saying that it was improper for girls to be naked in front of boys our age. But when I asked her why it was okay for girls of the same age to see boys naked, she responded that that girls and boys were different, and that it was perfectly appropriate for boys to be naked in front of girls at our age.
My first time I was at their house and invited to swim with them, I said I would first have to go home and get my bathing suit. The mom said "No, you needn't do that - our filtration system is expensive and we don't want fibers damaging it. Just swim naked like Art and Mike". She presented in a way that implied it was not as an option, but a requirement. Yet her requirement was not at all surprising to me as it was the same response we got from our school, and as your site evidences, was the common response justifying the practice during that era.
The girls were already in the pool as their two brothers came dashing out the back door absent a stitch of clothing, which was an initial shock in seeing it. The mother then suggested I take my clothes off and leave them in a chair about 20 yards away as it would prevent them from getting wet as we splashed about. I remember the feeling of slowly taking off my shirt, tennis shoes and socks first. I remember how awkward and embarrassing it was for me to be completely undressing in front of the girls. In fact, not having sisters growing up, I had never been naked in front of any girl of any age, let alone my own age. Making it worse for me was that one of the girls, Alice, went to my school and was a grade ahead of me. I saw her almost every day and had a bit of a crush on her. The final removal of my briefs was the hardest and I pulled them down and placed them in the chair. I then turned around and as I began to walk towards the pool stark naked, I remember the feeling of exposure and embarrassment of it. At that moment I had one of those experiences one remembers the rest of their life. I will never forget seeing every girl stop what they were doing and turn to watch me approach them, and from their vantage point they could see my entire naked body from head to foot as I approached them. I then remember looking into the face of Alice, and as with all her sisters, her eyes were starring directly at my penis and balls intently studying them watching them bounce about as I approached her. None were concerned about their mother possibly scolding them for starring at me in such a way and how uncomfortable it made me. In fact, I truly believe that just as that mother wrote in her letter to Dear Abby, these girl's mother was also of the mind that "boys should not keep their secrets from girls", and was possibly pleased her daughters had the opportunity to satisfy their curiosity by looking at yet another boy's genitals.
Over that summer, I remember spending a lot of time in that pool with them, and began to become more comfortable with my being nude until it was a none issue for me, and I was always naked as a jaybird every time. Indeed, I ultimately discovered I actually preferred playing in the pool nude with them, and at a point, even if I could have worn a bathing suit, I probably would have decided not to. It was liberating, and if it meant the girls got to have fun peeking at my goods, well, good for them, and I'm glad they enjoyed it!
Do You Recall Me Watching You Swim Naked a Few Years Ago?"
Posted by "Bobby" on Visual Sensations for Women Forum
Shirts, But No Pants?
Messages Received from Forum Members
As people have read stories on this website, I keep getting similar reports from various men and women that were born in the 1940s or 1950s, and they discuss the culture of their times. It was not uncommon in many western countries that parents would have their boys wear shirts, but would not have them wear pants or underwear. Some of these stories are as follows:
"Bronco", is a 59-year-old Canadian that visited this site and read some of the stories, and then sent me several communiques. Growing up in the 1950s and early 60s in the Caribbean, he vividly recalls how boys being nude, even while in the presence of girls their age, was normal. He tells us, "A long time ago when I was much younger and still going through puberty, my parents would keep my brothers and I bottomless around the house, even when visitors and their daughters were around. We grew up quite used to being naked when others were not." Bronco indicates the word his parents would use for the boys' penises was "robins".
An interesting point Bronco brings up is that although nudity was very normal and innocent for the smaller boys, as boys progressed through puberty, their ignorance of the sexuality of nudity began to diminish when it became obvious he and other boys would become sexually aroused and get erections. He specifically recalls a neighborhood friend, Brian and Brian's sister would play together with the boys only wearing t-shirts, and how the sister would tease the boys as "she would enjoy watching how our robins got hard." However, for Bronco, the parents requiring the boys to be nude and the double-standard in that none of the girls were required to be nude was not a bad memory, but instead a positive experience. He indicates that times such as those when he was naked from the waist down while playing with his friend's sister, and, her enjoyment of watching him grow an erection, was actually a "thrill" for him. For Bronco, his sexual arousal during those episodes was an innocent, yet positive experience, both then and now, yet contradicts modern views that such experiences are often traumatic and negative for the boy. From this author's perspective, if both the boy and girl enjoyed the experience, there was nothing wrong with how the parents handled how the boys were clothed as only positive memories seemed to have survived.
In another similar story, Benjamin writes about how in the 1950s growing up in a small town in Connecticut, his parents too would not have him or his brothers wear pants, as being bottomless wearing only a shirt was the typical routine. He recalls "We had become so accustomed to not wearing pants or underwear that we never considered it an issue. In fact, I remember a time when my mother's sister brought her girls over while we were still playing about in the backyard wearing only our t-shirts. I recall seeing three girls staring at us from behind the kitchen sliding glass door, obviously shocked by our nudity and probably because they had no brothers. It was at that moment that for the first time I felt something like the story in Genesis when God imparted to Adam and Eve the sense of nudity and embarrassment. I remember them coming out in the backyard with my widely circumventing them and calling out to my mom to get my pants for me. She shouted back that she'd just washed them and they were still wet, and I'd have to wait until she could hang them out to dry, which meant the cousins would be long gone by then. I returned to the girls in the backyard suddenly realizing that the t-shirt I was wearing was older and had shrunk significantly to where the bottom of it was above the belt line and my naked butt leaving my genitals fully and prominently on display. The girls were obviously interested not being shy about gawking at my penis and balls. I think one thing that may have interested them so much as I remember I was just starting to grow pubic hair, and it was beginning to encircle the area around the based of my penis. So I decided to get it over, bucked up, and stood there facing them letting them look at my genitals to their heart's content while satisfying their curiosity. After a while we fell back into playing about as we normally would have, and I was fine after that. In retrospect, I don't fault my mother for forcing me to experience such exposure, as I had no negative feelings, and was fine afterward. And if it gave my cousins some excitement, well, good for them!
Mean Little Girls
Posted by "Ronald" on Yahoo Group Forum
I really don't know what all the brouhaha is about concerning boys skinny dipping back in the day. I grew up in rural Kentucky near Bowling Green in the 1950s and would walk with my buddies down a dirt path off of Old Louisville Road to go swimming in Barren River. I cannot think of a single time when we wore our trunks. It was not a big secret and we would often see folks of all ages and both genders walking right past us. They'd give a friendly hello, or a warning about going out too deep if there had been recent rains and the water was up on the banks, but I can't remember a time when anyone scolded us specifically about swimming naked as it had been done that way for generations.
On a few occasions, one of the boys' sister or girls that lived in the area might join us. They would never join us in our au naturale state as girls were expected to be far more modest and skinny dipping was something they just didn't do, at least around us boys, and I remember my mother lecturing my sisters about not
swimming in such a state as they needed to protect "their purity and
decency". Yet it seemed to be perfectly okay in our community for the girls to see the boys swimming naked as it just seemed to be the way it was done.
But some of the girls weren't always as sweet as their mothers' perceived. I remember one day, I was about 10 or so, when two girls happened upon us and joined our little group of boys swimming. As usual the three of us boys were swimming in the raw whereas the girls were in their dainty dresses trying to keep them from getting soiled. They had seen us before at the river and for us kids it was no big deal, which I later learned was a major difference between those that live in the cities and those of us that lived on farms. Farm life is tougher, we worked harder, and if we wanted to strip down and jump in a watering hole, damned any guy that said he didn't like it.
On that particular day, the boy versus girl competition that always seems to happen at that age came down to the girls chiding us and reciting the old rhyme - "girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice but boys were made of frogs and snails and puppy-dog tails!" I don't know why this upset me, but it did, so I reminded them that boys could beat up girls - it was a dumb thing to say and soon regretted it. One of the girls said it wasn't so and as I sat there next to her naked while leaning back on my hands and my legs stretched out, I asked her why not. She then said "Because of this!" and then reached over faster than lightning and grabbed me by my balls before I could do anything about it. Without hesitation she squeezed them as hard as she could. I mean it REALLY hurt and I began screaming and crying immediately while she and her friend looked down at her hand tightly gripping my balls. They laughed and giggled as she mocked me "Poor Ronald - poor little boy!" while she continued to not let up her release. She said she knew of the vulnerability we boys have between our legs from her reeking havoc on her little brothers. And now she wasn't hesitant about trying her skills out on an older boy. She then stopped and got up quickly, and as I sat there crying holding onto my aching balls the two walked off smugly proud of themselves and giggling with her friend saying "Haha, you sure bested him, sure taught HIM a lesson!" And of course she was right... Girls = 1, Boys = 0.
This Skinny-Dip Was No Fun
From: Commentator David Kaplan; Houston Chronicle - June 22, 2008
At Lovett Elementary in Meyerland, we remembered the Alamo and square danced. I lived a sheltered life: stayed with the same class all day and rarely looked beyond it. My next stop, Johnston Junior High, was less stable, more threatening. Student life teemed with subcultures I had never seen. One macho group of boys wore "Hollywood" haircuts with wings on the sides and shiny candy-apple red shoes.
But my strangest memory of Johnston has nothing to do with any student's behavior. A school policy from those days has left me mystified.
Boys had to swim naked in gym class.
People are shocked when I tell them. They don't believe it.
It's true. The same HISD [Houston Independent School District] that gave me a conduct grade in sixth grade made me show up to class naked in seventh grade. We boys rarely talked about it. I don't think the girls knew. They wore bathing suits. I never mentioned it to my parents. The practice went on for decades, which means many thousands of Houston men went through this. Some may have blocked it out.
I feel like I'm part of a new recovery group: My name is David and I was made to swim naked in public school.
After all these years — I attended junior high between 1961 and 1964 — I wanted to get to the bottom of it: how HISD came up with the idea and when and why it stopped. I contacted HISD spokesman Terry Abbott, but he knew of no documents or HISD administrators to interview. He acknowledged that he'd heard references to nude swimming "as something that happened a long time ago."
Let me take you to a time long ago. At Johnston in the early 1960s, swim class began when our gym teacher met us in the showers and ordered us to march in a single-file line naked to the indoor pool. With other Johnston coaches, I'm told, there was swimming instruction, but my swim class was like free time. Some boys jumped high off the diving board and did cannonballs. Others played water polo in the deep end, hurling volleyballs and shouting. The rest of us stood in the shallow end, waiting for the period to end.
There were two types of boys in our swim class: Those who didn't care that they were naked and unselfconsciously had fun. And those like me who were thinking: Get me out of here. A couple of hoods in the class, older than the rest of us, made things more menacing.
Swimming wasn't the only thing I hated about gym — it was all pretty nasty. In the gym locker room, the wild boys were at home. Once, hoods grabbed a kid and stuffed him in a towel hamper so deep that you couldn't see him.
Now and then the subject came up with male classmates: Why do they make us swim naked? The
common answer — "Threads from swimsuits clogged the pool drain" —
didn't make sense, because girls wore bathing suits. Plus, you didn't
hear about other pools around town having this problem.
To find out how long the practice had gone on, I contacted Houston natives. After talking to my younger cousins, brothers Lee, David and Jay, I determined that nude swimming was abolished at Johnston in the mid-'60s, although the years could have varied from coach to coach.
Men who went to Cullen and Burbank junior high schools told me they swam naked, too. Ted, a 90-year-old man I know, swam naked at Johnston and San Jacinto High School. He entered Johnston in 1930. So, HISD boys swam naked around four decades at least, probably longer. I tracked down a former Johnston coach, James Ashmore, who was a Disney version of a gym teacher. Young, upbeat and fit, he actually seemed to believe in the value of physical education. Ashmore worked his way up to HISD athletic director before retiring.
Unlike my coaches who left us on our own on swim days, Ashmore gave swimming instruction. "As far as I know, it was part of the HISD curriculum," he said of the nudity. "I don't remember parents complaining. It was just the procedure of the day, and no one had a problem with it."
After talking to a man from Chicago I got a surprise: He swam naked in junior high, too.
Just how widespread was this practice?
At the risk of ending my chances of becoming a district attorney, I went online and Googled the search words: "boys," "nude," "gym" and "class." Lo and behold, there was an online forum on the topic:
turned out that men from across the U.S. swam naked in school — in Blue
States and Red States — and they were sharing memories. To my astonishment, the "fibers clogging the drain" theory had made its way around the nation. A woman joined their discussion. "Is this the best kept secret in the world?" she asked. The
forum turned into an angry debate. On one side were those who were OK
with the policy. It's perfectly natural, like skinny-dipping, they
wrote. Besides, men and boys swam naked at the YMCA.
On the other side were men who found it degrading. Swimming nude in school wasn't like swimming in the raw with your buddies at the lake. They didn't choose to do it. They were forced.
It's a moot argument. Nude swimming would not take place in a middle school today. "All hell would break loose," said Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers. "No parent would put up with it."
So I'm back to asking, "Why?"
I turned to the YMCA, since nude swimming there had been mentioned on the online forum. I didn't find out much after calling the Y's national office, but the Encyclopedia of Washington State History Web site states that males swam naked at YMCAs across the U.S. beginning in the 1890s. Hygiene was a reason cited. The Web site noted that it "may have evolved from problems created by the long wool suits ... in fashion, which apparently shed so much they gummed up the pool filters."
So, it was the bathing suit fibers!
Maybe there is a connection between nudity at the YMCA and in junior high, and public school officials were copying the Y. After all, the YMCA's swimming program has always been highly regarded. As I talked to more people, a new mystery emerged: Why does the idea of swimming naked in public school seem awful to guys my age and younger while older men tend to see it as no big deal?
For example, when I asked 90-year-old Ted what it was like to swim naked at Johnston, he said, "Never thought anything about it really," whereas many guys from my generation hated it. I turned to Hank, a brilliant, big-picture guy I know. Hank, who is 81, noted that in past decades, men had compulsory military service. In the Navy during World War II, he recalled, "we went through swimming and lifesaving in a group, and all of that was naked ... with everybody from every walk of life, and you had not one shred of privacy."
He recalled how in a small Texas town near his childhood home there were free public baths, one for males and one for females — the only source of hot water for many area residents. "As a country, we're not aware of how much privacy we've gained.", he said. "The world then and now is so different it's unimaginable."
Hank noted that the strong economy America has enjoyed since World War II has made the country more affluent, and with wealth comes privacy and privileges. His contemporaries had much to do with that prosperity. After saving the Free World in WWII, they went to college on the GI Bill and raised their families' standard of living. From Hank's perspective, I could see a seismic shift in how our culture views men and how men see themselves.
After talking to a guy about my age, I could see how class differences also shape us. He had a naked-in-a-group experience I never knew. In 1967 at age 19, my friend David climbed on a bus with other Texas City boys from blue-collar families. They were bound for an Army induction center in Houston. It was at a time when I was entering university life, unlike David. Before the draft lottery came along, college protected me from the military service and Vietnam.
The bus ride from Texas City to Houston was full of bravado, David remembered, but once they walked in the U.S. Army building and officers told them to get naked, "It got quiet as church".
"These were Army officers, and you were naked," he recalled. "You could literally smell the anxiety." Some of the boys went straight from the induction center into the Army that day, and then, Vietnam. While other young men risked their lives as soldiers, I took anthropology classes and skinny-dipped at Lake Travis in Austin.
I sought to find out why we swam naked in junior high and why it stopped, and here is my answer: America changed. By the time it got to my generation, the practice had become a strange relic. My swim class at Johnston was a window to another time.
Original website link to this Houston Chronicle Articles:
This Skinny-Dip Was No Fun
Woman Remembers Embarrassing High School Incident
Told by K.D. on Google Groups - Urban Folklore
My high school had a swimming pool, and part of PE involved weekly swim class. As for most PE classes, swim was not co-ed. We girls brought our own towels and other necessities, but were given suits every swim period, which we turned in at the end of class to be laundered.
The door from the boys' locker room to the pool was locked when the girls had swim, and vice versa, for obvious reasons. But, especially since it was
common knowledge that the boys wore NOTHING during swim class. Zip. Nada. In the buff.
A former male classmate of mine came through town a few years ago, and spent the night at our house. The topic of the boys wearing nothing for swim
class somehow came up, and my husband could NOT believe it. He said that he wore a suit in his HS swim class, and was convinced that the story of the
boys wearing nothing was a massive joke perpetuated by the boys to tease the girls. No amount of persuading would convince him.
In my particular graduating class, the knowledge of the boys swimming nude was especially well-known due to an incident, which was so memorable that it
was specially mentioned by the emcee at our 20-year reunion. One of the male members of the swim team was planning on doing some extra swimming during a
free period he had one day. Thru an incredible coincidence, he was unaware that a girls' class was currently in the pool, but more importantly for some
unknown and unlucky reason, the door from the boys' locker room had been left unlocked. You guessed it -- he walked into the girls' swim class stark
Even telling my husband of this story would not convince him. Two years later, we were in Seattle, and visited another former male classmate of mine, who verified the story of the males swimming nude. My husband remains convinced (so he says), to this day, that it isn't true.
I can't PROVE they swam nude, but we always accepted it as truth. My brother-in-law, who went to the HS on the other side of town, reports that
they wore suits in swim.
Original link to discussion:
Urban Folklore - Boys Swimming Nude in High School Pool