In the summer of 1952 this Associated Press news story, “Darn infernal women irk Ohio man,” ran on the front page of the Washington Court House Record-Herald.
Dated July 3, 1952, the wire article features an interview with Chesapeake, Ohio man Norman Parker who said he began to wear shorts 17 years earlier, in 1935, as a protest against “Those darn infernal women who wear them.”
Chesapeake, July 3, 1952 — (AP) — Norman Parker figures he has as much right to show his legs as women have. So he’s been wearing shorts—day in and day out—since 1935.
The shorts are a protest, says the 45-year-old Parker, against “Those darn infernal women who wear them.”
The tall, raw-boned non-conformist lives in the hills back of this Ohio River village with his 75-year-old mother in a weather-beaten frame house.
People in the hill country around Lawrence County have long been accustomed to Parker—and the shorts. A cold “spell” finds him donning an overcoat, gloves and a hat. But underneath it all, just the shorts.
Parker, who says he hasn’t done a lick of work since he started wearing shorts, tells of the time the town marshal hauled him off to jail.
“I was cooped up for 108 hours,” he recalls. “They had two doctors packin’ on my knees and openin’ my eyelids to see if I was nuts.”
Then there was the time he went to an open-air church meeting.
“Three deacons told me to get off the church property, for it belonged to them, not to God. So I had to quit going to church and I haven’t been to one since.”
But Parker says, “If it wasn’t for the strength I get from God, I wouldn’t have lasted 17 days, much less 17 years. I’ve been cussed, threatened, beaten and called everything but a man.”
His main hobby—roaming the hills for game and fish—takes care of some of the food problems at home. Three other sons help their mother.
“When he isn’t hunting or fishing, he goes calling on “friends who don’t laugh.” Parker says he may give up wearing shorts when the women do, but “don’t look like they’re going to, so I ain’t neither.”
It has been 65 years since the publication of the article. What do you think about Norman Parker’s 1952 protest against women? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
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