And What Was Your Strange High School Custom?

My sister recently told me that she’d just attended her 40-year high school reunion and had a great time seeing old friends and catching up after all those years. She’s quite a bit younger than me, so to think that she’s marking 40 years out of high school makes me feel like Methuselah.

It also inevitably makes me think about my own high school days, and more specifically, about a strange custom we had — one that might or might not have been exclusive to us. In our area, there was a long-standing tradition among high-schoolers that involved their wearing apparel, and it’s something that sounds cordsreally strange in the telling but was deadly serious at the time. I’ve always wondered if that was just a local thing, or regional, or even national.

The custom was that only the members of the senior class could wear yellow corduroy pants (or skirts for girls). It was an iron-clad ritual that had evolved through the years into an entire procedure, including anticipating the start of senior year by purchasing the pants and then having them “decorated”. Depending on the professionalism of whoever was doing the decorating, this could be anything from written comments and amateurish cartoons to very elaborate and amazing artwork.

I managed to find a picture of myself in my cords, although the decorations don’t show up too well, and I’m sorry to say that I don’t remember the specifics of my adornment — but I remember that they were not as elaborate as some. I also remember that I kept that pair of pants carefully folded and put away for years, but eventually they

It would be nice to get some comments from readers, confirming my recollections or reporting whether your part of the country had the same custom or a similar one. (I’d also like to know what penalty was exacted if anyone was foolish enough to break the rules. For example, in our case any non-senior who might have dared to wear yellow cords would have been chased down and relieved of their pants…er, assuming we’re talking about a guy.)

To set the mood for our nostalgia trip, let’s listen to a big musical hit from those days. Brooklyn brothers Santo and Johnny performing their huge seller (that their mother helped write), “Sleepwalk”.


2 thoughts on “And What Was Your Strange High School Custom?

  1. Well, by the time I came along the kids were still segregated in which color was worn for which year. Sophomores wore pink, juniors wore blue and seniors still wore the “coveted” yellow cords. But by then we didn’t get them “decorated”. Instead we waited until the last week of school and went around with magic markers and had our classmates autograph them while we were wearing them. And there were always girls who liked to write their name down the front of the guy’s fly and guys that had fun writing across the rear end or front of the girl’s skirt. I still have my cords actually, of course they’ve never been washed!


  2. Oh yeah, I think I do remember those other colors coming along in subsequent years — and I probably grumbled about how our treasured traditions were being ruined. 🙂


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