The Nudists: Why Would They Do That?

geographicAround the summer of 1971 one of the kids in the neighborhood shared with the rest of us something he had heard about the people in the weirdo house. Rumor had it, according to Dennis, that the couple in that house were nudists. A few of us, myself included, were unfamiliar with this term and what it meant. Dennis was a few years older and much wiser in the ways of the world than the other boys and me so he explained to us that the reason there were no windows in the house was to hide from the rest of the world that the man and woman who lived there paraded around their home without their clothes on. Well, this certainly got the rest of us interested, if for no other reason than it raised the question “Why on earth would anyone be goofy enough to walk around their house without their clothes on?”

For me, the notion of nudists living down the street was nothing more than a curiosity. At the age of eight my knowledge of the adult human anatomy was pretty much limited to two sources. One was a book that my rather liberal-minded Grandma Studebaker bought for my sister and me. The book, titled “How Babies Are Made”, explained how reproduction worked for such things as flowers, chickens, dogs, and, finally, humans. The author used brightly-colored paper cut outs to illustrate anatomy and the reproduction systems. The nude man and nude woman were depicted as completely bald, faceless people displaying the man’s equipment and the woman’s nipple-less breasts. The couple was shown holding hands and, therefore, were apparently in love, although it was impossible to say since their featureless faces were incapable of showing any emotion. Published in 1968, the book had given me, at a pretty young age, the basic idea of what a nude woman looked like, or at least what she looked like in a two-dimensional world.

The real world around me showed that some women were actually more three-dimensional than others, as evidenced by the other source of my anatomical knowledge, National Geographic magazine, which was also found at Grandma’s house. Being an educator, Grandma encouraged me to read the magazines to expand my knowledge of history, science, and the world around us. Somehow I doubt that looking at the photos of topless native women was the kind of mind-expanding experience she had in mind. At any rate, these two sources of knowledge did little to make me any more curious about the naked people living in the strange house.

That met an abrupt change the following year.

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