Cumberland Times-News

Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything

April 26, 2014

They may have found a way to skirt that issue

The media — what used to be called “the press” — eventually take note of what most folks of mature age and experience already have noticed: Times have changed.

One example of this was contained in a recent Associated Press dispatch concerning school dress codes.

I could make this a lively discussion if I wanted to.

However, I decided to — as the AP story worded it — adhere to “a standard of expectation and decorum.”

“They’re called leggings,” wrote AP reporter Martha Irvine, “popular fashion items that are tight-fitting pants to some, and glorified tights to others ... a clothing accessory that’s increasingly controversial — and seemingly, the favorite new target of the school dress code.”

While some schools have banned leggings, others provide that if worn they must be covered

by a shirt or skirt that reaches at least down to the girl’s fingertips. (Try it. Put your hands down to your side and see for yourself where the concealment line would be).

Back in my day, girls were expected — by their parents, if not by the school itself — to wear skirts that more-or-less covered their knees.

Some got around this by wearing skirts whose length could be adjusted by rolling up the tops after they left home. The girl would unroll the skirt to lower the hemline to its proper altitude before going home.

This was practiced not only at Keyser High School but at other schools in the area, based upon what both male and female friends in my age group have told me.

This might increase the thickness of the girl’s waist, but most of them were slim enough that it didn’t matter.

Besides, that’s not what you were looking at. It wasn’t just boys who were interested in skirt lengths. So were girls who were on the alert for potential scandals or — more likely — wondering what they could get away with.

Virtually all of the girls wore skirts, and you never saw a female teacher in anything but a skirt. The only pants you saw were worn by males.

Nowadays, when you see a woman in a skirt, it almost takes you by surprise.

My late Aunt Penny grew up in Grandmother Goldsworthy’s house and had a strict upbringing.

Dad, Uncle Abe and I could get away with going to the Blue Jay south of Keyser (a rowdy roadhouse, if ever there was one), but the only time Penny went there with her boyfriend she got caught and was grounded for a long time.

Penny lived most of her life in Philadelphia or its environs, but came to visit us once in a while. She always went to church with us and sang in the choir with my mom, but the time came when she stopped doing that.

Eventually, I asked Penny why she not only had stopped singing, but no longer went to church at all. “I don’t have a skirt to my name,” she said. “All I have is slacks, and I refuse to go to church wearing slacks.”

I understood that because Mom was a redhead who refused to wear any red, orange or rust-colored clothing because that would be improper for a redhead. After her hair turned gray, she refused to return it to its former glory because “Now I can wear the colors I’ve always loved.”

I may have told Dad about Penny’s dress code, but not Mom. They were more like sisters

than sisters-in-law, and that was a fullyprimed can of anaconda-sized worms.

People used to dress up to go to church. Some still do, others not so much. I didn’t go to church for probably 30 years, and the Christmas Eve I returned (and sat with our retired pastor because Dad was an usher and Mom was in the choir), I was astonished to see girls wearing their  cheerleading jackets and a number of people in jeans or otherwise dressed informally.

Unless I’m singing in the choir or leading the service, it’s rare that I wear a suit or sport coat in church these days (but I don’t wear jeans).

It’s likely that the Lord doesn’t care what you wear in His house, so long as you go — and go for the right reasons. Some people, I am convinced, go to church just so they’ll be seen there.

AP’s Irvine wrote, “At Haven (Ill.) Middle School, there has been a lot of confusion. Just a few weeks ago, the school’s own website said leggings were banned, when apparently they were not, school officials now say. Then there was the matter of yoga pants, which are tight like leggings, but flared at the bottom. “Did the fingertip rule also apply to those types of pants, especially when no one could tell the difference if they were tucked into boots, which is also popular style among


Dress code discussions “have sometimes bordered on silly,” she wrote. “But few disagree that there are serious issues at hand.”

Haven’s teachers posted this statement on the school’s website: “We believe, through years of experience and professionalism, that it is essential to our school’s climate that we set a standard of expectation and decorum.”

Well said. However ... they also denied the dress code was established because of “the notion” that leggings and girls’ clothing in general can distract boys and affect their learning.

Balderdash. My short-term memory isn’t what it used to be, but my long-term memory is relatively


I have excellent recollections of what it was like to be a teen-age boy and remember all too well the effect that skirts that stopped just above the knee (or even just a bit below it) had on my buddies and me.

The process of growing up can be traumatic enough. I know. When you throw deliberately provocative fashion into the equation ... ? (A friend once asked a store clerk if she had any clothing that wouldn’t make her 8-year-old granddaughter look like a streetwalker.) The truth is that girls distract boys, regardless of what they’re wearing.

Dad (who remained distractible for all of his 89 years) and I once maintained our decorum by pretending like we didn’t even notice a really fine young woman who walked past us.

After she went by, I told him it was far easier to deal with some things when you’re 50, than when you were 20, 30 or even 40.

“Wait ‘til you get to be 85,” he said, “and see how damn easy it gets!”

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Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything
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    July 27, 2014

  • He means well, and this time they spared his life

    Our pal Phil is the only re-enactor certified in writing by both the Lee and Custis families to portray Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (whose wife was Mary Anna Custis Lee). When he’s in uniform, he generally stops at the bottom of the path that leads to the summit of Little Round Top, salutes Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy and asks permission to join us. (Get it? Generally ... General Lee?) We always return his salute and grant him permission, in part because he’s our friend and also because the real Lee never got to see what it really looks like from up there. (Get it? Grant ... Grant? U.S. Grant? Real Lee ... really? OK. I hear you. That’s enough. Seriouslee.) Phil gets a kick out of being able to sneak up on us while we’re distracted by tourists.

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    People give me otherwise-insignificant items they hope will amuse or inspire me. I appreciate this. I’m always glad for free entertainment, which as Goldy’s Rule 33 says is everywhere. All you have to do is wait and it will come to you. Also, I have been writing columns for 37 years and embrace inspiration anywhere I can find it.

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    Today’s column will be relatively short, as my columns go, for reasons that should become apparent, and I thought long and hard before writing it.

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    Random thoughts sometimes occur to me when I least expect it, usually when my brain has become tired.
    When I voice these thoughts at work or in other places, people may tell me, “Goldy? It’s time for you to go home.” Yes, ma’am.
    Here are two random thoughts of recent vintage:
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    Occasionally, at this time of year, I see reference to a “class orator” or a “class speaker.”

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    June 8, 2014

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    People say to me, “Goldy? Can I ask you a stupid question?”

    In theory — and theory only — the correct response is: “The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.” Not so much. There ARE stupid questions, some of them so stupid that to call them stupid is to damn them with faint praise. Other questions are — on the face of it — legitimate questions, but shouldn’t be treated as such ... not if you subscribe to the same philosophy that I do: Free entertainment is everywhere; all you have to do is wait, and it will come to you.

    June 1, 2014

  • This was a skill that proved very useful

    The Belmont Park stewards have decided to let California Chrome wear his nasal strip during the Run for the Carnations. Nasal strips usually are worn by people who snore and may have saved numerous marriages. It helps the Triple Crown hopeful to breathe, and some twolegged athletes wear nasal strips for the same reason. In this case, Chrome’s nasal strip may keep him from (wait for it) ... losing by a nose.

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