Tuesday, October 06, 2015

O.C. narrowly averted counter-culture uprising

Crazed beatniks Lera Chapman and Bobby Schaal stick it to the man!
How did Orange County survive the tumultuous youth movement and violent social upheaval of the 1960s? It wasn't easy, as this Oct. 1, 1965 Los Angeles Times article by Jack Boettner starkly illustrates...

The wide tie fad has been stopped before it could get rolling in the Orange Unified School District’s junior high schools.

Students in the 9th grades at Yorba and McPherson junior high schools began showing up in dad’s old four-in-hands of the mid-1940s with the opening of the fall term. But it did not set well with the administration.

Thursday was the last day the broad and bold neck wear could be worn at Yorba.

Homer Jurgens, Yorba vice principal, said the ties “just don’t fit in with the school’s dress code. We feel they are inappropriate for school wear. They are apt to be disturbing in the classroom situation. We know fads do exist, but we have to be careful with certain ones. The dress code was established by a combination of parents, faculty and students last year.”

Jurgens said there has been no formal announcement that the ties must be discontinued, but that the administrators had made the decision after conferring with several teachers. He said he has been breaking the word to the students individually.

George Osborn, principal and McPherson, said the wearing of the wide tie was brought to a halt because they are unacceptable and might cause a “commotion” in class. He said they did not meet the criteria of a dress code drawn up by staff and students.

 “We try to keep the dress within reason,” he said, “yet leave the individual his freedom. If we allowed the  ties, pith helmets might be next.”

Portola Junior High School reported none of its students had joined the wide-tie trend.

Bobby Schaal, 13, one of the Yorba students who has taken to the ties, said one student brought 84 ties to school and was selling them at 10 cents apiece.

Why does he wear them?

“It’s something different,” Bobby said. “I guess you could say it’s a way to chop the old timers.”

He said he was not disappointed that the school had put an end to the mounting fad.

Thus was chaos and rioting averted in Orange County. And indeed, pith helmets never got a chance to wreak their special brand of counter-cultual mayhem. But the kids in Orange were ahead of their time. The following year, British fashion designer Michael Fish would bring back wide, loud neckties. By the late 1960s and early 1970s much of the Western world was wearing them. Even (or perhaps especially) junior high school vice principals! Along with avocado-colored appliances, brutalist architecture and bad men's hairstyles, it was part of what historians now call the "Uglification of America."

3 comments:

Tris Mast said...

Yes, all of my school principals wore paisley bibs as wide as a wooden paddle.

Greg Ottinger said...

Dear God, not a commotion!

TokyoMagic! said...

Weird! You'd think they would've been happy that the students were attempting to wear something a little more "dressy" to school! Were slacks and dress shirts also frowned upon?