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TIME Magazine, March 31, 1947, p. 25:|
MANNERS & MORALS: Reeny Season
Neither war, rationing, nor the advent of the atomic age had altered U.S. teen-agers' preoccupation with malted milk, two-hour telephone calls and jukebox music. All had kept right on jiggling. But with draft boards apparently locked up for good, and the bubble-gum market bullish, teen-agers were now devoting more time to the complicated business of acting their age. Certain postwar changes in tribal custom, language, taboos, wooing, peculiarities of dress and methods of transport were evident.
A considerable portion of the prewar fleet of ancient jalopies was still on its wheels and able to backfire. But the flivver and all its appurtenances was growing unfashionable-- the fox tail, which once flew from every steaming radiator, was now as old-hat as the coonskin cap.
The really de luxe vehicles of 1947 were jeeps and two-wheeled, gasoline-powered scooters. Hundred-mile-an-hour hot rods were still in style in California and some other states, although the law and construction costs were closing in on them. In Atlanta, two teen-agers who possessed juiced-up cars had developed a process known as "scratching." The started the car in reverse, whipped backwards in a tight semicircle, then slammed the gears into low and roared off with a squeal of tires and a shower of dust.
"Wi Ya Hus?" New jargon was springing up everywhere. In San Francisco the word "boodles" was used both as a noun and a verb-- and could mean anything under the sun. In Charleston, S.C., where dyeing the forelock was all the rage, kids greeted each other by crying "Wi ya hus?"
New Orleans youth was in the grip of something called Voutian, a way of life given to the world by a jazz musician named Slim Gaillard. Its practicioners called themselves Vouts (pronounced Vowts), prefixed names with the symbol "cat-o," said "scooto" for goodbye, and added "reeny" to almost every other word to give it class. When two male Vouts met they whirled their "jelly chains" (three-foot watch chains), bent backwards from the knees, and reached up to shake hands at eye level. New Orleans girls were wearing bells on their shoes and carrying "slam books"-- notebooks in which they exchanged brutally frank comment on all their friends.
There was all sorts of other activity. The yo-yo was back in Dallas. Denver high-school girls were wearing one wing-back earring, so large that it covered the entire ear. Los Angeles youth had invented a fascinating custom-- taking off its shoes at dances. San Francisco girls rolled their bobby-sox down inside their shoes so nobody could see them. They didn't know why.
Kansas City high-school girls were wearing bracelets on their ankles, four-in-hand ties with their blouses. At one high school, girls had to be going steady with a boy to be in the local swim, but also had to give them "the pitch" and get a new one every few weeks because it was agreed that boys were terrible.
While all this was going on, teen-agers in many another city had suddenly become dignified. In Detroit, high-school girls were abandoning sloppy sweaters and saddle shoes for blouses, nylons and trim footwear. Indianapolis teen-agers frowned on anybody who "acted crazy like kids used to." Seattle girls were sedately mad about knitting. But this was just a fad too. Few well-indoctrinated parents would be surprised if their offspring carried it a little farther, began wearing peg-top pants and bustles and crying "Twenty-three skidoo!"
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