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The Boy Can't Help It: 1955

The Boy Can't Help It: 1955

Other than the fact that this photo of my brother was taken on Friday, April 15, 1955 at Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield, California on Kodak Tri-X film exposed for 1/25th of a second at f4.5 with a Lordox 35mm camera, I know nothing about it. Except that it wasn't used in the yearbook. BTW, got a match?

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Evolution of Smoking

When I was in 7th grade, (1969-70), I went to a private school and one of our teachers smoked in the classroom while he taught. It was allowed. Later, in public high school, they had ashtrays outside of the doors for students who wanted to smoke. Times sure do change. Now it's probably back to smoking in the boys' room again.

Look Again

In the Lordox portrait, and tell us if that's not the reflective bowl of a camera flash, with a 5B flashbulb ready to pop.

Dual Purpose

It occurs to me that Daves "Smoke on the Water " caption could also be used on this pic as well.

Coffin Nails

I'm sure that one of the reasons my mother and father lived such a long a life (103 & 97 years) was that they never smoked. Whatever the reason, either they didn't like to smoke or just wouldn't spend the money on it. My brother and I grew up in a home with no ashtrays. However, if there would have been a World Series or Championship Tournament for smokers, we could have been contenders. Fortunately, we got the message about 30 years ago and quit for good.

My smokin' brother

A little more background: the film designation comes right off the edge markings of the negative. We also have an original print, and my brother had recorded the date and exposure info on the back. I didn't take it myself, one of his MCHS confrères did. At the time I was an innocent lad of 8. I was aware of the photo early on, though, but until recently thought it was just an arranged gag shot - reinforced by the fact that the cig is obviously not lit. Possibly it was, but I've since learned that Respected Elder Brother was not entirely unfamiliar with inhalation back then. When he took up a pipe in college a couple years later, and openly smoked it in the familial presence, that somehow seemed so much more respectable. Rip Tragle: thanks for the Lordox image. Below is my brother's actual camera. Pretty sure it came through the Montgomery Ward catalog. Weird globular object in the background is a self-illuminating slide viewer. Pressing the slide down in the slot activated the internal lamp. I had completely forgotten about it until just now.


Just wait till the Sisters see this.


I graduated from a Catholic High School in 1956---no smoking in the "John" in those days and we respected the rules. We did some other dumb things, though.

Risky Business

For some of that era, this was as bad as it got. Just don't light the filter, that's bad for your health.

Lordox 35mm

Mercy, I had never heard of such. All I know now is that is was a German camera. I doubt I’d swop it for my ’55 double-stroke M-3 however.


What, no smoking in the boys room section in the 1955 yearbook?
I'll bet more classmates did that than played football.

Smokin' in the Boys' Room

Teacher don't you fill me up with your rules; everybody knows that smokin' ain't allowed in school!

Brownsville Station

Sitting in the classroom Thinking it's a drag
Listening to the teacher rap Just ain't my bag
The noon bells ring You know that's my cue
I'm gonna meet the boys On floor number two!

Smokin' in the boys' room
Smokin' in the boys' room
Now, teacher, don't you fill me up with your rules
But everybody knows that smokin' ain't allowed in school.

That's Toad

from "American Graffiti"

No boy's room for us...

I did time at a private college prep school a decade after your brother, and we didn't have to smoke on the sly. We were allowed to smoke on a covered porch next to the cafeteria.

I actually made it through four years and graduated from there in 1968. I doubt that the sanctioned smoking continued much past that...

I smoked my share of those things, along with some cigars and a lot of pipes as well. I smoked my last cigarette thirty years ago last February.

Check out

the big waterfall to the right. Every married woman in the world want's one of those installed.

Smokin' In the Boy's Room

Sounds like the makings of a good 50's rock song.

JD for certain

Looks like one of those juvenile delinquents we were warned about in the 50s.

Your Brother Will

Fe-fe, fi-fi, fo-fo, fum
I smell smoke in the auditorium
Brother Will, Brother Will
He's a clown, that Brother Will.
He's gonna get caught
Just you wait and see
(Why's everybody always pickin' on Will

Balls of Fire!

That was the code phrase at Ellensburg High School in 1969, which meant that a female teacher had been spotted walking toward the girls' restroom. The cigarette that was being shared by several girls was then quickly flushed. None of the teachers were anosmatic, of course, but that got rid of the physical part of the evidence!

The first high school I went to, at Fort Knox, had a smoking area across the street from the school. If you were at least 15 and had a note on file in the office from your parents, saying that it was OK for you smoke, you were welcome to go there when you weren't supposed to be in class. 30 years later, my son, at 16, got a ticket for "possession of tobacco" and had to go to juvenile court!

Smokin in the boy's room

So why were you two taking pictures in the restroom? I'd be a bit concerned if I came in and somebody had a camera.

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