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This week’s edition!

Enough is Enough: Civility and pride should start with personal appearance

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

What is the matter with today’s society?

Growing up in a middle/lower middle class family in Boston, I developed traits that were instilled and reinforced by my family. One was pride in your personal appearance. This helped define who you were.

The families in the neighborhood stressed and made sure that their children presented a respectable appearance in public, not one mirroring a character in a Charles Dickens novel. The fact that your family might be financially limited did not give you an excuse to look like the neighborhood waif.

At public school, you showed up groomed. Your educational ensemble if you were female included a blouse, skirt or slacks and appropriate footwear (and the occasional tight sweater).

Boys’ attire consisted of shoes, socks, slacks and a button-down shirt (and you were permitted a not-so-tight sweater).

At some high schools, males were compelled to take military drill two days a week. This required you to wear modified military clothing. These classes were taught by descendants of Baron Friedrich Wilhem von Steuben, the Drill Master of Valley Forge. Unlike the Baron, they spoke English, but with a military accent.

At several of Boston’s all-male public high schools, you were required to wear clean, fresh, crisp attire and a tie. Should you show up without a tie, there was always a teacher ready to rent you one from their personal private stock.

The purpose of the dress code with the tie was to prepare you for the business world.

In your late teens, if you were a male, you were required to register for the military draft upon reaching your eighteenth birthday.

Upon entering the military, two things were required of you. The first was politeness. The second required you to wear a uniform, meaning everyone dressed the same and your uniform was expected to be clean and crisp.

Pride in our families, our city, our state and our country is what made us great. Now modern living standards are bringing us down, and it starts in the family and filters down to our local schools.

There are many problems in our schools. Today, let’s talk about appearance and respect.

Today if a student shows up at school disheveled, half-dressed and unapproachable due to intense body odor, it would seem to indicate they’re presence is for purposes other than learning. This must be stopped.

For all you social apologists, poor hygiene is not brought on by poverty.

Boy, have things changed! Today, a slovenly appearance is a good indication that person probably has money. Dressing like a bum is expensive.

It’s hard to tell if they are trying to reinstitute the Middle Age custom of donning sack cloth and ashes, climbing the church stairs on their knees seeking forgiveness or if they are just embarrassed by their “white guilt.

Next time you pass a school, if the students are outside, look at their dress. In far too many cases, you wonder if their parents actually know what their children are wearing to school.

This begs the question: Does this have any adverse effect on the student’s behavior in class? Does it have an adverse effect on learning?

Perhaps if we, as a society, took a step backwards into the past era, when politeness and dress were valued, it could serve as a small step forward to civility and pride.

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