Here’s a photo of Wilt Chamberlain in fourth grade, in 1945. It’s pretty easy to spot him in the crowd:
The author writes:
[Chamberlain's] almost twice the size of some of his classmates in this photo (see the girl in the front row on the far left as a reference).
Ummm—actually, no. That girl is sitting down.
And although the boys in the row ahead of him are standing, Wilt’s row has been placed on a step to elevate it. So the only children he can properly be compared to are the ones standing in the same row as he. Chamberlain is very tall, no doubt about it. But from the photo alone it’s hard to know exactly how tall (reports are he was six feet tall at age 10, and that’s certainly believable).
What’s more, fourth-grade boys tend to be pretty small, even smaller than the girls in the same class. Girls generally get their growth spurts early in puberty—boys later, and their puberty tends to occur later as well.
The commenters at the article seem additionally fascinated by the neat and relatively formal clothing of so many of the children. But if they’re surprised, then they obviously didn’t go to grade school in the 50s as I did, because back then that was still how all children dressed. They had no choice.
Dress codes at my New York City public grade school, for example, were very strict. On ordinary days the boys had to wear shirts with collars—no T-shirts!—and long pants but never jeans (which in my extreme youth were called dungarees). On assembly days (once a week), it was button shirts with ties. The girls’ daily garb was skirts or dresses even in the dead of winter. If it was really cold outside girls could supplement with woolen leggings (coats were sold with a matching pair) to keep from freezing on the way to school, but they had to be taken off on arrival.
But of course everybody knew that only babies or losers wore leggings. So most of us just toughed it out even in the foulest of weather.
If we didn’t comply with all of these rules, we were sent home and our parents informed. And believe me, you didn’t want that to happen.
Which reminds me: