An American who attended Catholic parochial schools in the 1950s and 60s tell us about his school uniform and his First Communion and Confirmation suits.
I noted the several Holy Communion photos on the HBC site. In one American image, the man standing by the this boy is his sponsor and such photos were very typically to commemorate the event here in the United States. First Communion is normally done in the Second Grade at a Catholic school. White was the color for the Holy Communion kids and we boys had a long sleeve
shirt with a white bow-tie and white short pants like our uniform length: fingertip length when standing straight with knee socks and white dress shoes.
Confirmation is a Catholic event for 12 to 13 year-olds and that is typically done in the 7th grade.
My confirmation class had the option of wearing a short pants suit in the 7th grade in California in 1960 for Confirmation services. Our Catholic school uniform included short trousers for the boys and dresses for the girls. So some of us decided to take advantage of what we knew best and get suits like the one in the photo. The style was typically long for the shorts at the time but our school required the French look and it was always much cooler when the weather was hot so most of us boys liked it. I remember being fitted and thought the short pants were what made the look because with the white knee socks we looked taller than the boys with the then baggy style longs!
My suit was black with suspenders instead of a belt. I remember my mother saying I needed that to really keep the shorts up. She bought the suit so I could fill out the waste and by 8th grade graduation I had. If I can find the photo I will include it in a subsequent E-mail. I wore the suit as well to other events and graduation as well. Only a couple of us wore our suits then but I remember we did not overheat as the other boys did!
The school uniform was white shirts with belted short dark blue cord short pants to
the length mentioned above and white socks with black shoes. Long ties were required when temperatures were below 90 F and removed for lunch & PE. High-top Keds were popular sport shoes then and permitted for playing and at PE. Dark blue sweaters were used when cooler temperatures prevailed.
Other California parochial schools had similar uniforms, but mostly with longer short pantsthan we wore. Ours were the French style, as we understood at the time was done there because our nuns were of a French order. So their uniforms or habits were French and ours uniforms were the same as their French students.
Sometimes I decided to wear the short suit and other times not. Suits were more in then for us boys. Church was an option, traveling by plane was also another dress-up occasion, and dinning out at better places. I remember that an occasional spill at the table was not so worrisome as the legs and not the pants caught the droppings ... easy cleanup. Weddings were fun because some of us had fun without getting our pant-legs green from playing ball while yet dressed-up...very practical!
Since we were used to the shorter style, we easily had requests to have the then plaid Bermudas altered into the shortest style. I enjoyed that and did wear with the suit jacket for fun dressy events. The style here in America never really caught on but I liked it!
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