Figure 1.--The caption to this phptograph in a television anthology reas, "Amf here he is, the one and only Beaver Cleaver--cap, bow tie, knee socks, shorts, and that endearingly bewildered look as if a flying saucer had deposited him from another galaxym and he's saying to us all: 'Gee, what am I susposed to do now?" This episode, 'Beaver's Short Pants,' was aired December 13, 1957. Click on the image for an assessment of Beaver's new suit.
"I get sort of tired of Dad's cooking," said Beaver, "and
besides. Mom, I was hoping maybe you would take me shopping so I could get that leather jacket
with the eagle on that I wanted. You-said I needed a new jacket."
"Beaver," Mrs. Cleaver
Sunday morning when Beaver came down to breakfast he tried walking with his knees bent to make his pants look longer.
"It won't do any good, Beav," Wally assured him. "You can still tell they are short pants." p>"Stand up, Theodore," said Aunt Martha. "I don't like to see a boy with good posture.. Francis .Bronson, Junior, who is just your age, has the best posture of any boy I know." ^ "Don't worry. Beaver," whispered Wally. "The kids will laugh themselves sick in the first couple of hours."
"Sunday school only lasts an hour," said Beaver
and thought. Just because I am the youngest I
have to go and get stuck to make Aunt Martha
happy. Wally could joke. He was safe because he
was too old to wear short pants. Even the fourteen-
year-old Bronsons back East wore long pants.
Beaver was careful to be late for Sunday school
that chilly autumn day. Gooseflesh did not improve the appearance of his knees. He slipped
into the last pew while the other boys and girls
were singing the opening hymn. He stayed there
until the brief service was over and the others
had filed down to the church basement for their
Sunday school lesson. Then in desperation Beaver
picked up a hymn book and held it down at his
side in an attempt to hide the gap between the top of his socks and the bottom of his pants. He
slipped down the stairs and edged sideways to his
own group where he sat on the closest chair and
quickly opened the book across his bare legs.
It did not work. Not that anyone said anything
right out loud, not in Sunday school. They just
nudged one another, pointed at Beaver, grinned
and snickered. The lesson that day was about
Joseph and his coat of many colors. Beaver felt
Joseph was pretty lucky to have a father who gave him such a beautiful coat that his brothers envied him. It was a cinch Wally did not envy him his
short pants and neither did anybody else.
As soon as the lesson ended. Beaver slid out of his chair and made a beeline for the door. The rest of the class was not far behind.
"Hey, Beaver," yelled Judy when they were out on the sidewalk, "what happened to the bottoms of your pants?"
Beaver turned and faced his friends, or maybe by now they were ex-friends. "Nothing, he said.
"Where'd you get the girl's stockings?" asked 'Larry.
Is that a new kind of underwear?" Whitey wanted to know.
"It's a suit," said Beaver, "and it's supposed to
be like this."
"Hey, Beaver," said Larry, "I thought you said you were going to get a leather jacket!"
Beaver did not have an answer to that.
"You know something. Beaver?" asked Judy, "You've got dimples on your
"I have not! "yelled Beaver.
Someone snatched Beaver's cap and started a game of catch with it.
"You know what?" said Larry. "You're a sissy!"
"You take that back," yelled Beaver.
"I will not!" shouted Larry. "You're a sissy!"
That was too much for Beaver. He hit Larry. Larry hit back.
All of a sudden it seemed to Beaver that everyone was hitting every one else. He yanked at Judy's pigtail as it flew past his face. He struck out at whatever boy was nearest him. He felt himself pushed backwards. He felt himself pushed forward. He tripped and fell, skinning his knee on the sidewalk. He heard the minister's voice calling, "Boys! Boys!!"
And then Beaver felt Wally's hand on his arm. "Cut it out, Beaver," he ordered. "Lay off, you fellows!''
Figure 2.--Beaver gets teased by the other kids at Sunday school.
The truth of the matter was that Beaver was
glad to be rescued. There were too many against him and besides, Judy scratched. He looked up and saw the minister standing in front of him.
"Theodore, did you start this?" asked the minister.
Beaver wiped his face on his sleeve before he answered. "No, sir . . . my pants did."
The minister looked as if he were trying not to smile. "You had
better go on home with Wally," he said to Beaver. "It looks as if you need some Iprotection."
The boys walked, home in silence. Beaver thought gloomily that now he would never get his leather jacket. Now that he had been in. a fight his mother and father would be more afraid than ever that he might look like a roughneck. Mr. Cleaver's face was serious when he saw Beaver's rumpled. clothes and bloody knee. Aunt Martha told Beaver to change to his old clothes while she repaired the damage to his new suit-so that it would be ready for him to wear to school the next day. She said she did hope the Cleavers weren't going to allow Theodore to grow up to be a ruffian--really, the casual ways of people out here did seem very strange. The little Bronsons in the East didn't get into fights. Perhaps what Theodore needed was to attend a really good private school.
When Beaver had changed to his jeans, his good old comfortable jeans, and Aunt Martha was in the laundry removing spots from his new clothes, IBeaver joined his father and Wally in the living room. He expected his father to give him a talking to about the fight but instead Mr. Cleaver said, "Kind of lonesome around here without your mother, isn't it? I put in a long distance call to her."
"Uh…Dad?" said Beaver.
"That fight wasn't really my fault," said Beaver. Oh? Whose fault
was it Mr. Cleaver wanted to know.
"Aunt Martha's. She made me wear those short pants," explained Beaver.
Mr. Cleaver looked so concerned that for a minute Beaver thought his father was going to help him out of his difficulties. Then the telephone rang.
"Hello . . . yes, I did," said Mr. Cleaver when he had picked up the receiver. "This is Mr. Cleaver . . . Oh, hello, June.
Beaver and Wally settled back to listen. Beaver hoped his father would explain about the short pants and his mother would say that it would make her happy to have him wear jeans instead of short pants.
"Everything's just fine here, just fine, Mr. Cleaver said into the telephone. -"Yes, Aunt Martha's a tremendous help. She's whipping up a wonderful dinner-eggplant and everything."
Eggplant! Beaver and Wally exchanged a look of distaste. There was a long silence. Apparently their mother had a lot to say to their father. "Oh, no, of course not. We wouldn't dream of such a thing," said Mr. Cleaver to his wife. "As a matter of fact, we're all getting along like four peas in a pod. We'll call you again tomorrow night. Goodbye, dear."
Not a word about short pants. Beaver slumped lower in his chair, remembered that Aunt Martha might come in and tell him about the splendid posture of Francis Bronson, Junior, and sat up.
"What did she say. Dad?" asked Wally.
"She sent you both her love," said Mr. Cleaver and lowered his voice. "And she said she knew Aunt Martha could be a trial at times but when your mother was a little girl. Aunt Martha was practically the only mother she ever had. She loves her very dearly and . . ."
Wally interrupted. "Well, I guess that takes care of Beaver's pants."
"I guess so," admitted Mr. Cleaver. "Too bad, Beaver, but it's just a couple more days."
Just a couple more days, thought Beaver glumly, and all because he was the youngest. His father didn't have to go around in short pants, did he? And Wally didn't have to go around in short pants. No. They were too big for Aunt Martha to pick on. Well, if he had to he guessed he could go on fighting the fellows at school, but that Judy--her fingernails were pretty sharp.
The next morning Beaver, dressed in the short pants and half socks, joined Wally at breakfast. "Where's Dad?" he asked as he bit into one of Aunt Martha's baking powder biscuits. That was one nice thing about Aunt Martha. She liked to bake biscuits.
"I don't know, Beav," answered Wally.
"Why, your father left for work," said Aunt Martha.
"Already?" Beaver was surprised. His father never left for work this early.
"Well I've got to get going," said Wally. I've got an early class. Goodbye, Aunt Martha."
"Be a good boy, Wally," she answered as he went out the door.
"Feeling that he had been deserted by the men in his family. Beaver ate a second biscuit and even managed to eat some oatmeal. He had a feeling that if he did not eat it, his aunt would tell him that Francis Bronson, Junior, always ate his oatmeal--and probably asked for a second helping. "Are you sure Dad left for work?" he asked.
"Yes," answered Aunt Martha. "He left before Wally came down."
For some reason it depressed Beaver to know that his father had hurried off to work without even bothering to say goodbye. It was bad enough that he was going to have to fight his way through the day with his fists without his father running out on him before breakfast.
Beaver finished his breakfast and stood patiently while his aunt straightened the collar on his Jacket. She looked so kind and so affectionate that he felt worse than ever. His feet were heavy as he walked out the back door. When he reached the driveway he stopped to look at his clenched fists, which he wished were bigger and harder. He wished he had the biggest, hardest fists in the whole world, because he was going to need them.
The sound startled Beaver. He looked around to see where it had come from.
"Psst." It was Beaver's father beckoning from inside the garage. "Come here," he whispered.
Beaver slipped inside the garage where he found his father holding up a pair of blue jeans and a sport shirt. "Hurry up," his father ordered. Change into these."
"Gee, Dad," said Beaver as he pulled off his jacket. "I sure thought you had ditched me."
"Wally and I talked it over last night and he said you couldn't go to school in these pants no matter how Aunt Martha felt and I had to agree. After all, my mother made me wear long white stockings to school when I was a kid. And I know how it is."
"You do?" asked Beaver as he pulled on his jeans.
"Sure I do," said Mr. Cleaver. "Now look, we can't hurt Aunt Martha's feelings, can we?"
"Well, no, but-"
"Now here's what you do," Mr. Cleaver spoke hurriedly. "You slip out the hack way so your Aunt doesn't see you and when you come home from school, you come in here and change back to your short pants before you go in the house."
"Sure, Dad." Beaver felt suddenly light again. Both Wally and his Dad were on his side and that made a lot of difference. It wasn't going to be so bad wearing short pants around home after school, not when he knew the men in his family cared.
"Gee, thanks. Dad-you're almost like one of the fellows."
Mr. Cleaver, who had started to leave, turned and looked back at his son. "Beaver, that's just about the nicest thing you ever said to me."
"That's okay. Dad," said Beaver as he changed his pants. When his father had gone, he slipped out of the garage, around through the back yard and over the fence. At school some of the fellows gathered around Beaver to demand, "What happened to your short pants, Beav?"
"What short pants?" asked Beaver.
"You know what short pants," someone said. "The ones you wore to Sunday school."
"Oh, those," said Beaver scornfully. "I got tired of wearing them."
"Whatever happened to that leather jacket you were going to get?" asked Larry.
"Don't worry." Beaver tried to sound mysterious, because he could not think of an answer.
After school Beaver returned home to the garage by way of the back fence, changed back into his white shirt, jacket, short pants and half socks and went into the house to say hello to Aunt Martha. He was safe from his friends as long as he could keep out of sight from the neck down.
"Why, Beaver, how nice and clean you kept your clothes today." Aunt Martha's old face beamed with pleasure.
"Uh . . . yes. Aunt Martha." For some reason Beaver felt guilty because Aunt Martha looked so happy that he had taken care of his clothes. Probably she thought he had stayed as clean as Francis Bronson, Junior.
"Theodore, I just got to thinking this afternoon that you might like some cookies when you came home from school," said Aunt Martha, "and so I made up a batch of your Cousin Mary Bronson's hermits-she was your mother's second cousin on her father's side. Her recipe is a family favorite, and the cookies are so full of nuts and raisins that they are very nutritious." Aunt Martha set a plate of cookies on the kitchen table and poured Beaver a glass of milk.
Beaver, who was not used to such service for an after school snack, sat down and began to eat the cookies. They were good even if they were nutritious. "Thanks a lot. Aunt Martha," he said and felt worse than ever. Such a nice old lady baking him cookies and he couldn't stand the thought of wearing the short pants she had given him to school.
While Beaver was eating his cookies he heard Larry Mondello scuffing his feet up the driveway. Quickly he went to the kitchen window where he was visible only from the neck up and called out, "I can't come out and play today, Larry. I promised Mom I would clean out my closet before she comes home."
"Okay, Beav," Larry called and went back down the driveway.
"Wouldn't you like to invite your little friend in for some cookies and milk?" asked Aunt Martha.
"No, thank you. Aunt Martha," said Beaver. "Larry Mondello, he's sort of fat and he's not supposed to eat things like cookies. His mother gives him an apple after school."
"The poor boy," said Aunt Martha.
Beaver felt worse than ever. He felt so bad he went upstairs and really did clean out his closet. He had to do something to keep busy while he stayed in the house to keep his short pants out of sight.
"You feeling all right?" Wally asked when he came home and saw what Beaver had done.
"I feel okay," said Beaver briefly. "You know--except for the way she feels about short pants, Aunt Martha is kind of nice."
"She's all right, I guess," said Wally, "except she likes eggplant."
"That's better than liking short pants," said Beaver.
And that was the way Beaver's days went. Each morning he went out to the garage and changed into his jeans. Each afternoon he changed back to his short pants and enjoyed a snack prepared and served by Aunt Martha. Each day he felt a little worse than he had the day before.
Then one evening Mrs. Cleaver came back from Aunt Peggy's, and the next day it was time to take Aunt Martha to her plane. Mr. Cleaver stopped in the boys' room as he was taking the old lady's bag downstairs and whispered, "Come down and say goodbye to your Aunt Martha. You won't have to come to the airport with us." He glanced significantly at Beaver's short pants.
The boys followed their father down the stairs. "Goodbye, Aunt Martha," said Wally. "Thanks for taking care of us." "Goodbye, Aunt Martha," said Beaver. Aunt Martha looked as if her feelings were hurt. "Why-aren't you boys coming to the airport to see me off? It will be such a long time before I see you again."
The Cleaver family stood in embarrassed silence. It was a bad moment
for Beaver. He didn't want to hurt Aunt Martha's feelings. Except for
the way she felt about short pants he liked her almost as much as Gus
the fireman. But going to the airport in those short pants.
??? and exposed his knees to the chilly breezes and
the view of everyone. He hoped that by not looking directly at anyone
he would somehow become
invisible, but it didn't work. He could feel people staring at him
and he overheard remarks.
"Hey, look at the kid in short pants."
"Oh, look at the sweet little boy wearing a proper suit."
"Half-socks, I didn't know they made them any more."
Beaver's only consolation was that with so many grownups around he didn't have to fight anybody, although he thought he might feel better if he did have an excuse to punch someone.
Beaver was mighty glad when Aunt Martha's plane was announced and he could say goodby once more. He stood waving while Aunt Martha boarded the plane, but he was mighty glad to see the door closed and the steps rolled away.
"Beaver, that was a mighty nice thing you did to please your Aunt Martha," said Mr. Cleaver as the plane started down the runway. "And do you know something? The stores are open tonight and we are going to stop on the way home and buy you that leather jacket with the eagle on the back."
"Oh Ward," protested Mrs. Cleaver. "Do you want people to think Beaver is a roughneck?"
"Any boy who will deliberately and of his own free will wear a pair of short pants in public just to make an old lady happy isn't a roughneck and never will be," said Mr. Cleaver. "Beaver gets the leather jacket tonight and that's final."
"Gee, thanks. Dad!" Beaver grinned at his
father. He guessed he would show Larry and Judy
and all the rest of them. They were going to be
sorry when they saw his new leather jacket! "But
Dad, is it all right if I ... uh ... go home and
change my pants first?"