In the spring of 1974, while attending Frankfurt American High School, in Frankfurt, Germany, many students were introduced—or exposed—to a new cultural phenomenon called “streaking”. I’m not sure if it was a protest against conformity, the Viet Nam war, or a combination of hormones, impending graduation stress and simply a temporary lapse of judgment teenagers are prone to—or all of the above.
The first sighting was a lone streaker wearing a black ski mask and tennis shoes who was spotted on campus. In minutes, word of his deed was all over the school, and most students thought it was prank.
From a trickle to a stream
Over the next few days, small groups of streakers appeared and students in the lower classrooms would often hear what sounded like thunder as dozens of students on the second floor ran towards windows en mass to catch a glimpse of a streaker running by. Sometimes it was a real streaker going by, and sometimes it was simply a jogger.
The streaking mania seemed to build day by day, with students having difficulty concentrating on class lectures as they were like tightly coiled springs, ready to leap from their desks and head to the windows in a millisecond. Then there were sightings of streakers at events.
Mr. Paul Platis, who taught art at FAHS, created the F.A.S.T. t-shirt design, which would be screen printed onto a shirt, jacket or other flat surface for a small donation (for purchasing badly needed art equipment). F.A.S.T. stood for “Frankfurt American Streaking Team” and whether you streaked or not, you could get a T-shirt or an Army field jacket printed with the FAST logo.
The mass streak
Word had spread one day about an impending “group streak” that was being planned. Since we had only seen or heard of lone streakers and occasionally two or three together, it was hard to imagine a group of streakers.
Rumors of an impending streak turned to stark reality as several dozen students and at least one faculty member, disrupted classes with a group streak across campus.
It was hard to say how many people was in the group—it may have been sixty or a hundred people or more. We watched in awe as they went by and we saw one girl stumble and fall, then get up and rejoin the group.
The big streak was short lived as the group trotted past the spectators and out of sight across the school campus. Teachers struggled to get everyone in class resettled into their seats and focused on the classwork at hand, with mixed results.
There was some speculation as to what the assistant principal would have done had he actually caught any streakers “in the act”. He didn’t have any handcuffs and to touch a naked student, even to detain them would have been more than awkward, to say the least.
Thank goodness no one was caught that I am aware of.
Somehow the school principal found out about the F.A.S.T. t-shirts that were being printed and money being collected, and t-shirt printing was curtailed, but a soon thereafter, there was new clay extruder in the art department, and no one was fired.
I’m surprised that no one streaked during our Frankfurt High School, class of 1974 graduation ceremony, but with so many parents attending, I guess it would not have been the same as it was with the streaking during the normal class day.
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