1950 Memories of Suburban Adventures

Skinny Legs

My skinny leg humor got everyone all flustered at the time, but after marinating for fifty-plus years, is now funny.

Two classes of fourth graders had recess together immediately after lunch. I was in the first class, and Joanne and Denise were in the second. They became my best friends on the playground. They were a little on the tough side, but for some unknown reason took a liking to me.

A small patch of leftover blacktop was dumped and flattened in the grassy portion of our school yard. We turned the five by six foot rectangle into our clubhouse. We surrounded the blacktop with stones, sticks, and pine cones, and left an opening for a door. Purple clover flowers brightened our décor. No one else was allowed inside without our permission. Skinny me wasn’t intimidating, but I had good backup; the makings of a scrawny mob boss.

One afternoon, we sat in our clubhouse, watching the janitor clean the outside of our classroom windows.

“I dare one of you to run up and say hi to him,” said Denise.

“Hmpf, I’m not doing it, do it yourself,” replied Joanne.

They both looked at me. “C’mon Mary, just run up real quick and say hi. You can run faster than either one of us.”

Well, that left me little choice. I had to prove my fleet-footedness. I ran to the janitor, yelled hi, and ran back. It wasn’t as much fun as we thought it would be since he ignored me.

We sat in our clubhouse itching for something to do.

“I never noticed how knobby your knees are,” observed Denise. Circus Girl

Until that moment, neither had I.

Dance of the spaghetti legs and knobby knees

Dance of the spaghetti legs and knobby knees

“Boy, your legs are super skinny. They’re like toothpicks,” added Joanne.

“You can use my toothpicks to pick leftover lunch from your teeth,” I offered.

They laughed, and I demonstrated how my knee bones wiggled around.

Skinny legs and David across from Kill's house

Skinny legs and David across from Kill’s house

“I dare you to lift your dress up to the top of your leg, stick your leg out, and ask the janitor if he wants a toothpick,” said Denise.

So I did.

His face turned red. Impulsively, I added a phrase Dad and Uncle Edward said during a Sunday dinner at Grandma’s; “the closer the bone, the sweeter the meat.”

The janitor’s eyes bulged and he raised his squeegee. He wasn’t laughing.

“What is wrong with you? Stay away from me!” he yelled.

Joanne and Denise rolled on our clubhouse floor laughing. I forced some laughter out, but knew from the janitor’s reaction I might be in trouble. Luckily, he didn’t tell my teacher.

During supper I told the story to Mom and Dad. Their reactions were similar to the janitor’s, but without a raised squeegee.

“Good gravy!” gasped Mom.

“Why would you do such a thing?” asked Dad.

I explained, “My skinny legs look like toothpicks. And recess is after lunch, so it seemed like a funny thing to ask in case he had food stuck in his teeth. And the little bit of meat on my legs is real close to my bones.”

By the time I found out what the big fuss was all about, my little faux pas was deep in my past and hardly mattered.

Lesson learned: Don’t annoy people, especially squeegee-toting janitors, while they’re busy working.

Related posts: Exposed/Kindergarten Nightmare

Now it’s your turn: What inappropriate comment did you make as a kid?


© Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures, 2012 forward. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. I am rolling in the DIRT laughing!

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Thanks MW. I ran into Joanne a few months ago. Hadn’t seen her since grade school. She had forgotten the incident (easy for HER to do), but recalled it when reminded. The bone isn’t as close to the meat as it used to be.

  2. Hi Skinny, thought I’d visit…love the story and the pictures really set the era so beautifully. I like how you list your essays by era…to use that word again. Forgive me for not coming by more often. It’s really a lovely site. Honestly.

  3. cant remember mine, but this gives me an idea about my kids utterances. they might kill me though

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