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The 1940's
The T-shirt Becomes the Rage

The T-shirt Becomes the Rage
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.34

     challenging words:    personalize, tie-dyed, underclothes, depict, discovery, military, manly, unit, during, logo, public, light-weight, acceptance, cooler, accept, presidential
     content words:    World War, World War II, Corps Gunnery School, Thomas E., John Wayne, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Rebel Without, Dwight Eisenhower, Like Ike

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The T-shirt Becomes the Rage
By Jane Runyon

1     During World War I in Europe, American soldiers made a discovery. While they sweated and sweltered in their wool uniforms, European soldiers took off their heavy jackets and wore a light-weight cotton shirt. They called them undershirts because they wore them under their clothing. News of this comfortable addition to the male wardrobe returned to the U.S. after the war.
2     When World War II was declared, the U.S. military decided to take the hint from its European allies. It issued the same type of cotton shirt to U.S. soldiers. This shirt was to be worn under the fighting uniforms. It was designed to keep the body cooler during battles. When the soldiers were doing heavy labor between battles, many decided to take off their uniform shirts and wear only the olive drab cotton shirts they had been issued. In those days, it wasn't polite to be seen in public wearing underclothes, but due to the circumstances, it was allowed. Newspaper and movie news photographers often took pictures of the soldiers wearing just their uniform pants and the cotton shirt.
3     The T-shirt got its name from its shape. If you flatten the shirt out from neck to waist and pull the arms out to the side, it forms the letter T. The T-shirt became a regular issue to all military men and women during the early 1940s. Many branches wanted to make sure that the T-shirts were easy to keep track of. They printed their unit names on the shirt. Some soldiers even had their names printed on the shirts so they didn't get lost in the laundry. You might have seen a T-shirt imprinted with "Air Corps Gunnery School" on it to show that the soldier had attended training at a specific school.

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