(Paula just didn't get it!)

Other than my mother, there were no girls in my household when I grew up so the female of the species was something that I always had to study from afar. A few encounters with them stand out in my mind.

I was in the the Eighth Grade in the Spring of 1962 and girls still wore petticoats to school, although not frequently. 

Sheryl was this gorgeous 14-year-old brunette who had dressed up this particular day in a bouffant skirt and nylon stockings. She sat at the desk next to mine. Somehow she had seated herself at her desk so that her skirt and petticoat had ridden up to reveal her leg, the top of her nylons, the garter that held them up, and, of course, the sheer layers of her petticoat.

The sight of all this delicate, feminine underpinning around that pubescent leg sent this 14-year-old's hormones out of control. Like a moth drawn to a flame, my eyes were riveted on Sheryl's leg. I stared. Not just a peek. I stared. It was the most magnificent sight I have ever beheld.

Then it ended. Paula, who sat in front of me turned around and saw me brazenly staring at Sheryl's nylon-clad leg surrounded by a filmy sea of petticoats. Paula looked to see what I was staring at. Her jaw dropped and then she got Sheryl's attention with gestures and loud whispers. As soon as Sherly discovered what had happened, she smoothed out her skirt and ended the show. Nearly 40 years have passed and I'm still mad at Paula!

The following year (1962-63) was the last I recall any girls wearing petticoats as normal attire. Sheryl was a cheerleader in the ninth grade. When the cheerleaders attended the football games, they would normally change into their outfits right before the game. They would then put their street clothes on hangers and take them with them to the game. I have a distinct memory of seeing Sheryl's street clothes, with a petticoat on top, hanging from a railing by the football field.

I recall a Sunday in the early 1960's when my family met another family for an afternoon dinner at a nice restaurant. We all dressed. The other family had a daughter, Margaret, who was a year younger than me. On this occasion Margaret wore a grey wool dress with layer upon layer of petticoat underneath. She made the most wonderful rustle when she walked and her skirt swayed enticingly with each step she took. Margaret was not an especially beautiful girl, but on this day she was Miss America in my mind.

Over the next few years petticoats slowly disappeared. When I was a sophomore and junior they were worn only at dances under formal dresses. My senior yearbook (1966) shows only one picture of a girl in a dress with a petticoat underneath.

I really miss the elegance of the bouffant petticoat. 

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