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Looking Back
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I was born in Atlanta and lived there for the first few years of my life.

It was a different Atlanta and was actually called "Atlanta," not "the A-T-L" or any such thing.

 It was the era when folks went to the big Rich's downtown store and dined in the Magnolia Room. You wore your Sunday clothes and looked your best. It was not unusual to see a lady wearing white gloves. Men wore nice suits or jackets and a starched shirt with a tie.

Now, don't get me wrong. White gloves and starched shirts don't make you any more than you already are. But they are an indication that you took pride in getting dressed up for a nice luncheon on the town.

Somehow or another, we decided a few years ago that it was OK for young men to wear pants that were about two inches too big for their waists. This allows their drawers to show.

The reverse is true for women, they wear tight tops that have little skimpy straps and then put a bra on for everybody to see the straps and then some.

This stuff used to be referred to as underwear. It went under your clothes. It was not designed for public viewing, except in the pages of the Sears, Roebuck catalog.

In preschool, we used to cut up the Sears catalog and paste up pictures that were supposed to be our family. I tended to select a sultry blonde as the stand-in for Momma. Dad was a tall guy in a suit. For my brother, I picked a smart-looking teenager. For me, it was a young boy with matinee idol good looks. One of us had to look real.

Malcom was a boy in preschool who just never quite fit in. He would sing the Jim Reeves classic, "He'll Have to Go," while the rest of us sang "Jesus Loves Me."

When we did that cut out your family thing, Malcom ventured into uncharted territory. He cut out his family from the underwear pages of the treasured catalog.

Malcom was good at one thing - he knew his way around a pair of scissors. He cut out the woman he selected to be his mom with exquisite detail. When he pasted his scantly-clad family on the construction paper, our teacher confiscated the picture and Malcom and took him to the preacher's office for what I assume to be a serious discussion on that part of the Bible where it talks about looking at underwear. I forget if that's near the story of the Little Drummer Boy or the place where it says "God helps those that help themselves."

I digress.

I remember Malcom's cut-out mama, even in her undergarments, was mostly covered up. Remember, I'm talking about the mid-1960s. Victoria's Secret was still very much a secret.

But now comes word that Atlanta, my much maligned hometown, may be about to pass an ordinance making baggy britches and exposed bra straps a violation of the law.

Based on what I've seen in concert pictures, they may have to go into Philips Arena, commandeer the microphone and say, "You're all under arrest."

Word is that the American Civil Liberties Union is gearing up to fight it.

What about my rights? Don't I have the right to walk around without looking at your undergarments?

Some smarty pants (with his drawers showing) would have something to say about this if he was smart enough to read a newspaper.

Since he isn't, I'll just let him enjoy the right to remain silent.

Harris Blackwood, a native of Social Circle, is on the editorial board of The Gainesville Times. Send e-mail to