"The Lawrenceville Stories" (1986) was a TV mini-series shown on PBS as an American Playhouse Production directed by Robert Iscone. The Lawrenceville
School is a famous eastern prep school in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, with quite a long tradition behind it. The school was founded in 1810 as the Maidenhead Academy and after various vicissitudes refounded in 1883 with its present name. One of its graduates was the novelist Owen Johnson (1878-1952) who wrote a number of much-beloved stories based on the schoolboy pranks of his own boyhood.
"The Lawrenceville Stories" (1986) was a TV mini-series shown on PBS as an American Playhouse Production directed by Robert Iscone. The Lawrenceville Stories, an American Playhouse production actually filmed at Lawrenceville, the famous boy's prep school.
The Lawrenceville School is a famous eastern prep school in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, with quite a long tradition behind it. The school was founded in 1810 as the Maidenhead Academy and after various vicissitudes refounded in 1883 with its present name.
One Lawrenceville graduate was the novelist Owen Johnson who wrote a
number of much-beloved stories based on the schoolboy pranks of his own
boyhood at the school.
The lead character, Hickey, was played by Zach Galligan. Lovely was played by Josh Hamilton; Doc Macrooder was played by Albert Schultz and Charley De Soto by Jeremy Ratchford.
The action is set on the campus of the school in 1905 and 1906, and the film attempts to reproduce the period schoolboy dress of that period with some success, though not with total accuracy. The film made use of the actual campus in the TV production.
The series dramatizes some of the Johnson adventures such as the stealing of the clapper from the chapel bell, the eating by "Hungry" Mead of a record number of pancakes in the school dining hall, and the taking advantage of a dandified rich new boy with too large an allowance to finance various pleasures enjoyed by the more sophisticated boys.
A lot of early 20th cebntury clothing is depicted in the seies.
One scene shows Charley DeSoto, a boy who prides himself on his
pugilistic prowess, with his new roommate, Lovely Mead, whom he challenges to
a boxing match. "Hickey" the chief prankster among the boys, is also present. Charley is shown relaxing in his room in his short-sleeved
and short-legged union suit, the standard underwear worn by the boys at this
period. His roommate, Lovely, wears his shirt untucked from his trousers.
Hickey wears long trousers with suspenders and a waistcoat without his suit jacket. Notice the watch fob and his tieless shirt.
Another shot shows two boys who are best friends at the school, Charley and Lovely, watching a sports event. They wear the typical long trousers with suspenders, shirts with rolled sleeves, and flat caps. Lovely has removed his starched collar.
Another scene shows "Hickey", one of the most resourceful pranksters of the school, leaving his house or dorm because he has been temporarily suspended by the headmaster, who secretly admires the boy's inventiveness. He is shaking hands with his mates as he is leaving the campus to take his punishment. This shot gives a good cross section of the boys' dress at Lawrenceville. Most of the boys wear long trouser suits with ties and shirts with a variety of starched detachable collars--some wing collars, some round collars, and other types. A few boys wear knicker suits with knee length stockings of either argyle pattern or in plain colors. Note that one boy in the right foreground wears knickers with matching grey stockings. Historically, most of the boys in 1905 at age 15-16 would probably have worn knee pants with long stockings rather than long trouser suits. If they did wear knickers, they probably would have buckled them above rather than below the knee. The wearing of union suits as boys' underwear is historically correct, although short union suits were less common than the long-handled style, as is the nearly universal use of suspenders to hold up trousers and also sleeve garters since most
shirts of the period were not sized according to sleeve length as is true in
modern-day America. An earlier film called "The Happy Years" (1950) starring
Leo G. Carroll and Dean Stockwell was also based on a story by Owen Johnson
and set at the Lawrenceville School.
A film version of Owen Johnson Lawrencillve stories was made in 1950. The main role was played by Dean Stockwell. The film is enjoyable, but it was not one of Dean's better performances.
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