Stiff Buckskin Pants Provoke Giggles at School

Feb 18, 2016

Schools have always had a concern about the clothing students wear, some sending boys home for not having a belt on their trousers and reprimanding girls for wearing short skirts.

The students of Alice Applegate in the 1890’s at the log schoolhouse in Klamath Falls had few choices of clothing during a period of little cash and few trading goods.  Girls wore skirts made from cloth from the canvas-covered wagons and boys usually wore buckskin pants.  

When the boys walked to school in the rain or otherwise got their legs wet, the trouser legs would stretch and sometimes needed to be trimmed at the bottom.  In dry weather, the buckskin would shrink to the size of knee-length breeches. When the pants dried they also became stiff as iron, and a sitting boy’s pants would dry in a seated position.  A group of boys standing at the blackboard raised a lot of giggles from the girls. 

Applegate recalled that students huddled around the stove in the winter because the log school house had an opening to let daylight in.

Source: Peal, Alice Applegate."Old Oregon School Days." Oregon Historical Quarterly 59 (1958). Print.