Girls, Did You Have the Ugly Phys Ed Uniform?

There’s been a lot of discussion on the alumni newsletter email lists about the “ugly” (OK, I think someone called them “hideous”) uniforms the girls had to wear for physical education class.

I found this picture of Coach Jane Womack demonstrating the finer points of serving a volleyball to a couple of students. They have their names on the uniforms, but I couldn’t quite make them out. Maybe someone can identify them.

Those uniforms aren’t exactly “hideous”

These must have been a later, more compassionate version, because even I remember something that was a cross between bloomers and a bag that the girls were forced to wear.

I’ll keep looking for the other uniforms. Ladies, how much would you pay me to lose THOSE negatives?


The girls have been identified. Here’s the whole story.

By the way, it wasn’t just the girls who had wish-to-be-forgotten experiences. We boys had our share of PE tribulations, too.

27 Replies to “Girls, Did You Have the Ugly Phys Ed Uniform?”

  1. Love Mrs. Womack, had her for both PE & Government! Had Ms. Helen Towse (sp?) probably my freshman year….remember one day I had stuffed M & M’s in my pocket & with one of the exercises they scattered all over the gym floor….don’t remember what the consequences were, other than I got plenty of exercise hustling to pick them up!!! The uniforms were tolerable, unbecoming to the best of shapes. My problem was gym socks, my Mom was continually buying me gym socks & the basket girls would give them out to friends who forgot theirs….I was always the one that got my grade docked for not having socks….I guess mine were always new & white which made them highly visible for friend loans in the basket room…integrity was not a job requirement for the position of basket room personel, I’m sorry to say….

  2. Both the students are CHS ’66. Roseanne Hecht (center) and Joni Tickel. I’m gonna guess this was freshman year, 1962-63.

  3. I believe this is a photo of Roseanne Hecht and Joni Tickel (1966) and there is no way either of them ever looked anything other than nice, even in the so called hideous gym suits.

  4. The picture is great of Jane Womack, Roseanne Hecht and Joni Sue Tickel. Actually, all three “girls” look nice! This version of the required PE Uniform looks cute on these two cute girls. In my four years at CHS (’60-’64), I remember a uniform similar to theirs–really not that bad. Mainly we girls mainly griped about the shower thing, and not wanting our hair and make-up to get messed up.

  5. Great photo of Jane Womack and the two gals in their gym suits. That particular model of the
    gym suit was not as offensive as the previous one which did look more like what one would
    call “bloomers”. Jane Womack is a great gal and is STILL teaching at CHS.

  6. Just some picky name corrections…Ellen Towse (not Helen) and Rosanne Hecht (not Roseanne). I can’t imagine that you aren’t featuring those lovely, reversible gym shirts that young men were required to buy…black and orange. Hold that Tiger! Keep up the great work.

    1. Thanks Cory….my bad ….she was a good teacher & good friend of my Uncle Jim Parker’s in his young years & after he returned to Cape to the University….he’s still living but I believe Ms. Towse is deceased…some of his art work that he had gifted her, I ran across several years back in an antique store on Broadway…just assuming she is deceased…do you know?

      1. Cory, Thanks for the heads-up about the spelling of Rosanne’s name. I have a follow-up story I’ll post today and I had picked up the bad spelling.

        Libby, Miss Towse, whose full name was Lucy Ellen Towse, died Feb. 9, 1992. She was 77.
        You can read The Missourian obit here:

  7. Libby Koch, I don’t think I know you I am class of 63 but you said Jim Parker is your Uncle and he was a dear friend of my parents. I, too, had some of his paintings that I remember as a child but I can no longer find them. Breaks my heart. I remember what they looked like. One was a little dutch looking girl with long blonde pig tails and the other was of some beautiful purple iris. To this day I love purple iris because of that picture. I was a freshmen in HS when Miss Jane came to teach PE. We adored her but gave her a hard time. Not as bad though as we were to Lucy Ellen! My kids had Jane in HS and I still see her quite often. She is ate up with being Grandma to 3 boys. Love the picture, Ken, thanks!

  8. A friend just forwarded these comments about Jane/Ms Towse and the gym suit. I was more impressed what was said about our GREAT teachers (Towse and Womack) As a former student and teacher at CHS, it’s always great to remember positive things about people/things that had an influence in our lives

  9. Random question: I am starting my own blog to share my photography experiences. Do you find it hard or easy to post consistently?

    1. It’s easy.

      A newspaper columnist described the process of writing a daily column: you insert a piece of blank paper in a typewriter, then sit there until drops of blood form on your forehead.

  10. And if you were at that awkward tall but unnaturally thin stage of life – size small fit ok but can you say WEDGIE? Torture!

  11. I am a 60 year old retired school teacher. When I was in elementary school, we had these same type of gym suits that we had to purchase from Anthony’s Department Store. Our P. E. teacher required us to have our names embroideried on the right pocket and our locker basket number on the left pocket. They certainly were hard to get changed out of…especially when you were hot and sweaty. I retired from teaching P.E. in 2003 here in Wink, Texas. That is where I grew up, too. Thank God I didn’t make my classes where these! Thanks for sharing the pic! Old memories are great!

  12. We at North Arlington H.S. were much luckier. If you got 100 athletic points you got to be in the “leaders club” which entitled you to wear a white uniform with a skirt/bloomers instead of the baggie blue ones. However, sock, uniform and white cavas sneakers were checked every Monday-no scuff marks or dirt or else it was back to the blue!

  13. I love the photo! Such wonderful memories! The girls look beautiful in their uniforms. I don’t remember thinking the uniforms were ugly. We had a great time in gym class with great teachers!

  14. Hi — This photo got picked up online and shared around and was eventually shared a couple of months ago on the Facebook page of Boomeon. In my efforts to track down the origin, it seems like I’ve finally found the source. If you would be so kind, I would like your expressed blessing to keep sharing the photo on our Facebook page, and I will link here as the source. If you would like us to remove it from the Facebook page, we’ll do so.

    Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. David, if I had a dime for every time this photo’s copyright has been violated, I’d be able to retire retire. I don’t know why it resonates with people so much, but it does.

      My rule of thumb is that if you are making money off my work, then we should negotiate a fair price for rights. If this is a personal, non-commercial site, then I’m OK with you using it as a link, not a standalone photo.

      Thanks for tracking me down. I’ve sent out about two dozen DCMA takedown notices for this image in the past.

      Send me an email if you want to continue the discussion offline. It sounds like your site and mine plow a lot of the same ground. Maybe we can work out something that is mutually beneficial.

      1. Hi Ken — Thanks for the solid reply. Boomeon will eventually be an ad-supported online community for baby boomers. It was never intended to be used on the site; it was just shared on Facebook as a cool “remember when” type of image. I’ll be happy to have it removed from the Facebook page, if that’s what you want — and I can certainly understand if that’s the case. But I would like to continue this discussion via email, because if you own more images that are this awesome and would appeal to Boomers, we should at least talk. My email is david at and if you want it removed from Facebook let me know and I’ll do so right away, holiday notwithstanding 🙂

      2. Hi again, Ken 🙂 To get us all into the holidays a little more quickly, I’m just going to have it taken down from the Facebook page. But please do still email when you have a chance, and happy Thanksgiving!

  15. OK, this is just plain weird. The photo of the gym teacher and girls is from my high school in Allen Park, MI and, if I remember correctly, the girls were both named Mary Ann…but I don’t remember the teacher’s name but do remember her face. I’ve been going round and round with boomeon on FB about the source of this picture and they’re insisting it comes from Missouri when, in fact, I know it’s from Cabrini High School circa ’64 or ’65. It was posted on a private FB page for kids that grew up in Allen Park and was discussed at length. I’m trying to get clarification of where the picture was originally used… our yearbook or elsewhere.

    1. Paulette, I hate to tell you this, but the photograph was taken at Cape Girardeau Central High School for the 1963 Girardot yearbook. You can see it on page 38 if this link works.

      I was the photographer who took the photograph and I still have the original 4×5 negative it was printed from.

      If it makes you feel any better, you aren’t the only person who swears it was taken at their school.

      I had what started out as an amusing exchange with a woman I thought was pulling my leg in her belief that she was in the photo. I finally quit responding to her when she all but insisted that I was lying when I kept providing her with proof that it really WAS taken in MO.

      Trust me, I can prove the provenance of the image beyond any reasonable doubt.

  16. In the 60’s they were not hideous!! I don’t know any guys who didn’t mind looking at the uniforms!! I am sure they were looking at the uniforms!!

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