Eyewitness Accounts

Jerry-
It was the thing we all feared most about going into middle school. Everyone talked about it. It was a big deal. Who knows why they did it? So we wouldn’t have wet suits hanging around? I bet they don’t do it anymore.

It was a source of ostracization if you wore one. In fact, i can only remember one guy ever wearing one. And i think it was because he has had some kind of an operation. They would have us all line up before jumping into the pool. So there would be 30 naked guys standing up with our backs to the pool wall.

The water was always warm.

I remember the hygiene answer.

One tidbit about The Coach – remember people would ask the faculty to sign their Labyrinths – the Middle School poetry magazine/yearbook? So my brother asked The Coach and he wrote: Line Up, Peter, The Coach; Then two years later I asked, he wrote again: Line Up, Todd. But, I may have the person wrong, but I think not, for David S. he wrote: Offsides, David. I always thought there was a slight dig in that.

Todd S

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Hey Jerry:

I’ve told my wife that story before, and she is still in disbelief that we used to swim naked!

You’ve probably heard everything from the others, but here goes: we had to line up for roll call along the side of the pool facing the locker room doors. When the girls walked in wearing their plain one-pieces and bathing caps, I just remember the first one or two crouching and covering their mouths, then turning away. Nearly all of us screamed and jumped into the pool. Because Brian Sn. was right next to me in alphabetical order, I remember him jumping on my head! I remember you were the exception, choosing instead to run the entire length of the pool, since you were a Z, to hide behind the diving board. I couldn’t see but I’m guessing the girls got a good look at you!

The Coach was such a dork – he had that blue collar, Archie Bunker chuckle afterward, saying “Sorry guys, I got the days mixed up”.

I sort of remember a really big guy in our class – he looked like he could pass for 16 (maybe he was) yelling “Jerry, what are you doin’?” He used to yell about everything, but I can’t remember his name – kind of a clown, kind of a delinquent. I could be transposing memories on that one, though. I think most of the girls were really embarrassed, but I seem to recall Jackie D. finding it really hilarious. You still in touch with Mark H.? I think he went with her for a while….

Brian S.

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Very funny Jerry!!

That is the one story I tell that everyone in my office finds hysterical and bizarre and most don’t even believe me…now you’ve given me proof!

We were just talking about it last week at lunch again.

I don’t have as much detailed memory as you have….unfortunately I think I tried to block much of it out. Very disturbing, embarassing, insecurities heightened about oneself. Being that I wore glasses and had to take them off while swimming…meant that everything was a continual blurry vision.

I mean I recall those red kickboard things..and wondering whether they were sanitary enough. I remember having to dive in naked and always concerned whether I was going to injure my balls. And then being bullied/yelledat by the gym instructor made it feel like Guantanamo Bay.

Also i was thrilled when I encovered a planter’s wart on my foot and had it removed, and was luckily excused for the rest of swimming naked hell that one year (or were there more than one years of naked swimming?) I mean really…did our parents know about this? Nowadays that would be brought to court on some sort of pedophilia charges I’m sure!

Again, thanks for giving me proof of it! I took your email around the office. I’ve been trying to track down some written proof. A Buffalo comedian passed thru NYC years ago, named Bob Smith, and he talked about it, and again, everyone at my table looked at me to see if it was true.

And here I thought everyone everywhere experienced it, but noooooooooo.

Marc K.

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I still don’t understand why we swam in the nude while the girls were allowed to where swim suits.

Streaking was in vogue.

Then again I still don’t understand how “Coach” was able to get away with sending us out to play flag football while he would hit golf balls during class.

Pete R.

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MY BALLS HITTING THE WATER EVERYTIME WE HAD TO JUMP IN OFF THE BOARD, PUT ME IN THERE, LARGE DROOPY SACK IS PREFERED

AND “THE COACH” TAKING US OUT IN OUR SHORTS IN THE SNOW TO PLAY FOOTBALL WHILE HE WORE A PARKA

Andy S.

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Hi Jerry,

I do not recall this pool event at all, unfortunately. However my recollection of the boys swimming naked was that people knew it was going on sort of as myth, but no one talked about it cause to us girls this was crazy and implausible. I however shared your email with Brian S., Pam R. and Kenny S. Kenny doesn’t remember that event at all. But his reaction to the memory was “that was soo f—d up!!” his wife shrieked in disbelief.

Brian on the other hand was there and laughed and screamed when he saw the email. He said he was standing outside the pool when it happened. He was at the end of the pool( with the doors from the locker room girls and boys to the right). The girls walked in began screaming started running back in the locker room as other girls ran in to see what all the screaming was about. Finally the gym teacher checked things out and got the girls back in the locker room behind a locked door. Pam and Brian have a son who had recently forgot his bathing suit for school. At dinner Brian mentioned that he was not allowed to wear a suit and Pam did not believe him. She called her brother to find out.

Now for some other things i found out. All my friends who had to go thru this torture said they were told that they could not wear bathing suits because the lint from the suits would clog the filter. In North Tonawanda before swimming started each year the naked boys had to lay on there back to have there feet checked for planters warts.

Another memory he had was of some kid who kept jumping up and down on the diving board to just get that little extra bit of height for his dive. Someone told me they just couldn’t understand those boys that played chicken.

Make this episode a good one, we’re all watching and waiting.

Iris D.

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