We have some limited information about individual Belgian school boys. In some cases we only bhave individual portraits or snapshots. In other instances we have some ctual details about their school experidences. Hopefully our Belgian readers will send along details about their own school experiences. Belgian schools for the most part did not require uniforms. Many parents had, however, very conservative ideas about schoolwear. We have added some French items as we have so few Belgiuan accounts at this time.
An interesting book provides some fascinating details on French boyhood during the 1910s. It offers insights on several different topics, clothes, hair styles, and school life. It is the memories of Paul Vailland-Couturier who was born in 1893. The book was translated from the French by Ida Treat, an American paleontologist and journalist. I've included some text about his clothes at 4 years of age and about his first experiences in school. Included also are some sketches of Paul at about 7. Compare the information in the text with the photographs available for Emile Zola's son Jacques, a contemporary of Paul. The sailor suit with knickers worn by Paul are similar to the ones worn by Jacques who also wore curls and latter bangs. One of the things emphasized in this book is the isolation of French children until they were quite old. School was the first time Paul played with other children. Even in the country in the summers he was mostly around adults. French families seem to have been very close knit units.
We note an unidentified Belgian boy who apparently had his portrait taken after coming in first in his class (figure 1). Noitice all the flowers set up for the portrait. Presumably they were used for other boys who received school awards, we are not sure about that. We doubt if famiky and friends sent all those flowers. And it is definitely a studio potrtrait. He boy wears a single-breasted short pants suit. The jacket has wide lpoels. He weare the shirt with an opoen (Schiller) cvollar. The knee socks have a narrow pattern bsnd on the turn-over-tops. We are not sure this is how he dressed for school, ut the fact he is holding hos school books shows thast this is a school portrait. Apparently school satchels wrre not very ciommon in Belgium. The boy looks to be about 11-years old. The portrait is undated, but looks to have been taken about 1935.
French boys have not commonly worn formal school uniforms like their across the Channel English cousins. Through much of the first half of the 20th century, elementary school boys in France wore school smocks over their clothes. As this was a very common practice, it gave the appearance of a school uniform. Not all French schoolboys wore smocks. Manty did and some had uniform requirements. The children had to wear the same color and style of smock. This was most common at private schools, many of which were Catholic schools.
I was in Elementary school until eleven. The elementary school did not requite a uniform as such, but we had to wear smocks. We boys thought it was a good thing because it didn't matter it ink blots got on it or we got it dirty. We wore the smocks in elementary school, in the classroom, and at playtime. We never wore berets.
We has a special white cassock for First Communion
Next I went to a Jesuit Catholic boys college (private secondary ) school. My mother is a very traditionalist Catholic. It was the early 1960s. There was no uniform at my college or the other principal catholics schools. My college had a rather relaxed dress code. We did not have to wear suits or jackets and ties. Someboys did, others did not. It was up to our parents wehther we wore grey long or short trousers. When I started at my college the clothes worn by us new boys were quite varied. About half of us wore shorts the other half longs. We boys sometimes discussed it, but it was not a problem. Some boys like me had both short and long trousers, although the long trousers were mostly worn in the winter. Others boys wore shorts all the time, but always with knee socks during the winter. It was a bit different as we got older. Some of the boys still in shorts at 14 were teased a little by the other boys were mostly wearing long pants by then. But in the 1960s it was normal to wear short trousers.
My family moved to Belgium when I was 12 years old in 1974. I was immediately 'gobsmacked' at the short trousers that the Belgian boys were all wearing. They were so much shorter than what boys were wearing at the time in England. I had just begun secondary school in England and enrolled in a Belgian secondary school. Belgian schools did not have school uniforms.
My family moved to Belgium when I was 12 years old in 1974. I was immediately "gobsmacked" at the short trousers that the Belgian boys were all wearing. They were so much shorter than what boys were wearing at the time in England. I had just begun secondary school in England and enrolled in a Belgian secondary school. Belgian schools did not have school uniforms.
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