A vigorous sport of this kind raises the question of whether nudists should wear supporting garments. Though doctors consider it wise, nudists seem to feel that the human body is sufficiently well constructed to protect itself.
It was the moment at the Nudist Olympics for the 100-yard dash for 10-and 11-year-old girls. Three naked figures were at the starting line, poised to run. The absence of clothing, not to mention numbered uniforms, posed a problem of identification. The girls at the starting line made one yearn even for the small considerations found in school-yard basketball, where players at least divide themselves into shirts and skins.
It was necessary to look instead for distinguishing characteristics. For example, Verda, on the inside, wore red fingernail polish and pigtails. Gale, in the middle, wore hair clips and sneakers decorated with smiley faces. Laurie, on the outside, would run with brown hair flowing. The whistle sounded and the field was away, the girls' rib cages straining against flesh and veils of dust forming behind them. One figure moved swiftly ahead. No flashes of nail polish, no hair clips, no smiley faces. This could be only Laurie. Even before she reached the finish she smiled triumphantly.
Later Laurie Brenner reflected on the pleasures of nude sport. Tomboyishly pretty, brown-eyed and bronzed and about to be a woman, she said, "I like the feeling of the air on me. You don't have to worry about clothes sticking to you or ripping."
Laurie also won the 25-and 50-yard dashes and might have dominated the Games but for Alfred Neubauer, who excelled in swimming and other skills, including the high jump. To avoid injuries in the high-jump pit, which consisted of a crossbar and two uprights embedded in auto tires, the children were instructed to put on clothes, and the flowering of jeans and T shirts created a surreal scene: a nude audience watching clothed performers.
On Sunday afternoon an awards ceremony was held. The holiday weekend was almost over, and a swarm of people, many of them dressed to go home, gathered to applaud the children. Absent was Nada O'Connell, who was in a nearby office phoning results to local newspapers as casually as if she were reporting homemakers' awards instead.
As readers of the San Bernardino Sun-Telegram have already been informed, Laurie Brenner and Alfred Neubauer, with six blue ribbons each, split the $50. The prize was donated by United Leisure Foundation, which could scarcely have anticipated the use to which Laurie, for one, intended to put the money.
"I think I'll spend it on clothes," she said, discussing her windfall on the pool deck. "On some mini-dresses. I need them for school."
"You could use sandals, too," added her mother, who had joined her.
Laurie nodded gravely. "I know, and I need some shorts and pants." Perhaps they were too absorbed to appreciate the irony, but as mother and daughter, both nude, stood there assessing the wardrobe needs of the co-champion of the Nudist Olympics, neither so much as cracked a smile.