The last period of my first day in Junior High School was gym class. Completely different than what I had known before, this was for boys only and all the gym teachers were male. We were all sat down on the benches and the head of the physical education class took roll call. Then we got the speech. The speech that informed me that my childhood had come to an end. From now on, I was a man.
First we were told we had to take showers after gym or the girls would make remarks about us smelling a bit. All the boys smiled. We had never been talked to this way. We weren't little kids anymore! Then we were told we had to bring in five dollars to buy our gym clothes which came with a neat gym bag. Then our mothers would have to clean our gym clothes once a week. (Good old Mom always laundered my gym clothes and never complained.)
If we didn't bring in our gym clothes, smelling like daffodils, we would have to wear a shirt and shorts that said "unprepared". Many times in my life I haven't been ready for a situation. I wish that all I had to do was wear one of those shirts.
Then he said we had to wear athletic supporters during class. Otherwise known as jocks. No more BVD's during gym class. We had to wear jocks.
Walking home from my first day in Junior High school I knew I was now a man. I had to wear a jock. No longer a sapling, a child, a kid. I was a man. A grownup.
I informed my mother of the new change in my life. She looked somewhat skeptically at her grown up son. He was so young just a few hours ago. I could wear my older brother's athletic supporter to gym class. He won't need his now that he is in college. If he needed it he would have taken it with him.
editors note: There are lots of interesting retrospectives going on this summer with the Sixties as the theme. If you will be near New York the Whitney show on psychedelic art may be of interest to you.