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Chuck Hinman, IJMA No. 083: Long-John Weather In Nebraska

It's Just Me Again: When his mom put her foot down: Long John's would be worn, a teen-age Chuck Hinman took extreme measures to avoid the taunts of other boys at Liberty High School. The story, he says, proves that teen age girls aren't the only fashion weirdoes
The next earlier Chuck Hinman story, accompanied by a Tim Loy travel photo of 'The Sower Atop the Nebraska State Capitol', is at Chuck Hinman IJMA No. 323: Hi! Where Are You From

by Chuck Hinman

These cool mornings we've been having remind me of dreaded winter weather when I was a teen-age boy growing up on a farm in Nebraska. It was dreaded by me for an unusual reason; cold weather was synonymous with "long-john weather."


Long-johns was the name for winter underwear, long with regard to the sleeves and legs. They were a one-piece "suit" of heavy cream-colored cotton knit material that buttoned up the front from the crotch to the neck. In addition, they had a vertical slit (trap door) in the back so you didn't have to totally undress to go to the bathroom. They were intended to keep you warm on cold days.

So what's to be dreaded in being warm on a cold day?

Well, I'll tell you. Teen-age boys in those days decided long-johns made you look "hokey" what with your underwear creeping out from under your shirt sleeves or around the neck. How "rural"! I learned the power of peer-pressure (vs. parental pressure) before I learned anything academically at remote Liberty High. No teenage boy would be caught wearing long-johns. Isn't it interesting how fast boy's fashion news travels.

I learned what was keen (cool) and what wasn't keen the first time I undressed in the locker room before the other boys to put on my gym clothes. I was laughed at when everyone saw and pointed at my long-johns at a time in my life when I still enjoyed carrying bugs in my overall pockets.

When I told Mom I wasn't going to wear long-johns anymore, she changed my mind and said that it wasn't an option so "get used to it." Case closed!

Oh Lord, I didn't know which was worse, taking the scorn of the other boys in the locker room or face the X-ray eyes of a Mom who sees and knows every thing! Do you know what I mean?

So I decided on a solution and kept it from Mom, my best friend, all those cold, teeth chattering years.

Here's how it worked. I rode a bicycle to school every day -- eight miles round trip. I wore the long-johns around home, but on my way to school, I dropped by the outdoor toilet at the country-grade school where I went to elementary school the first eight years. I undressed in the outdoor toilet, took off my long johns, placed them in a paper bag and went to school without any underwear on.

On the way home from school, I took a detour by way of the outdoor privy at New Hope grade school and put my winter underwear back on and appeared at home as if nothing had happened.

I was so cold from December until April each of those years I don't have much enamel left on my teeth from chattering.

But it seemed worth it at the time. And who thought teen-age girls are the only weirdoes?
Chuck Hinman, former Nebraska farm boy, spent his working days with Phillips Petroleum Company in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and Houston, Texas. He lives at Tallgrass Estates in Bartlesville where he keeps busy writing his memories.


This story was posted on 2009-12-06 07:36:25
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