« Grandpa Tells a Whopper; Cornell Takes a Shellacking | Main | Bronte Notes »

March 27, 2010



The Tuesday Weld Pretty Poison post reminded me of Erasmus Hall High School's take on specialized costumes for students, or the lack thereof.

For example, Erasmus did NOT have girl cheerleaders, but instead had five or six boys who filled the bill. We couldn't figure out why exactly but it obviously had to do with the notions of propriety held by Miss Grace L. Corey, the Margaret Dumont-esque Administrative Assistant (a very powerful second-in-command to Principal Dr. John F. McNeill). She presumably did not like the expanse of ankle, leg, and thigh that would be displayed by girls had they worn short-skirted cheerleader costumes like those favored for female figure skaters. And presumably Dr. McNeill agreed.

Instead the boy cheerleaders wore white low sneakers with white socks, white long pants, white shirts, and white Erasmus crew neck sweaters, these last accented in the school colors of buff and blue. Despite the aura of purity that their costumes suggested, our boys jumped around a lot and flung out their arms and legs with abandon as cheerleaders do. Not sure if Erasmus was unique in this but certainly very few other high schools used boys instead of girls. 

One wonders what Miss Corey would have made of the decision to have boy students take swimming class in the nude. One also wonders what the reasoning behind this dictum was -- an effort to do without the bother of bathing suits, either brought from home, provided by Erasmus, or in order to even the playing field by preventing bathing suit envy; an effort to present a military-like stance of all-swimmers-are-equal-at-Erasmus, even if they are not created thus; an effort by Dr. McNeill to decide something without involving Miss Corey; an effort to turn Erasmus into a new Athens sprung up on the low plains of Flatbush?  We all had to swim this way (although my junior high school and college required bathing suits) and our teacher did too, the red-faced and equally red-appendaged Mr. Ryan. We of course spent most of the period under cover of the always warm-watered basement pool, the air above oozing with steamy humidity -- and jumping around was NOT allowed. 

But I'm sure Miss Corey had something to say about how girls were presented in their swimming class and I'm sure this involved bathing suits of no uncertain modesty. Period. End of discussion.

NOTE: While I was at Erasmus there was a student fatality in the pool, a drowning. It was as I recall a boy student in the year behind mine. This would have been in 1961 or 1962. Not sure what happened exactly but rumor had it that the boy was "slow," although what he was doing in the pool if that were true does not bear further thought. And shouldn't he have been better supervised? There was also a small article about the incident in the local press.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Blogs I Read