Category Archives: Clothing

It’s Fall! Let’s go school shopping!

There is not a mother who does not either dread or look forward to school starting!  Actually, how you feel can vary from day to day or morning to evening. So I thought I would take a little jog back to the 1950’s and tell you about school starting then!

First of all, our calendar was different than calendar’s today.  We started after Labor Day and had no holidays until Thanksgiving and then again at Christmas.  There was NO Fall break! We started again in January and went until Easter when we had Good Friday off.  We finished up right smack dab before Memorial Day. That’s it.  What a change from calendars today!

My Mom always took me shopping for school clothes in August.  That was exciting! We looked for dresses that would do well for everyday wear.  Yes, you heard me right–dresses!  Girls were not allowed to wear pants to school. Never. Ever. Even when it snowed. Never.  Ever.  And the dresses were knee length.  We did not have any kind of sneakers in those days. Surprise! Girls and boys wore leather shoes to school.  So you looked for some sturdy shoes that would do well for school and playing outside.  Flip flops had not been invented! And anyway, they would not have been allowed at school.   Socks were a necessity.  I can remember being excited when my foot reached the size that would fit knee socks! That meant that my legs would be partially covered up and a lot warmer! We didn’t have tights to wear. One time my Mom bought me a corduroy skirt and vest that had matching knee shorts.   So when it was really cold, I would wear the knee shorts under my skirt to school. Was that classy or what??? I looked like a fat tub of corduroy.  But I was warmer!

As far as any embellishment goes, girls didn’t have pierced ears in those elementary days. I was nearly 16 before the pierced ear fads began.  Girls wore their hair in pony tails if it was long or it was pulled back and held by a barrette. We didn’t have scrunchies to hold our pony tail-we had rubber bands and they hurt when you took them out!

When preparing for a new school year, you generally purchased a new lunch box.  They were metal and are collector’s editions now!  Why didn’t I keep them!?!

School supplies were easy.  You needed pencils and a Blue Horse 3 ring notebook with paper.  If you were in seventh grade, you needed an ink pen with extra cartridges for penmanship class.  You also needed 50 cents for your year long subscription to Weekly Reader.  That’s it.  My Mother would have had a heart attack if she had been presented with the supply list that students receive today!

Hey! And you know what? We did just fine.

 

2015 Day 20: The Macarena Girls

Before retiring, I was a teacher, a curriculum coordinator, an assistant principal and a principal.  I have a lot of good memories from those 32 years of my life.  But one that stands out in bravery and sense of humor was my experience as a Macarena girl.

Every year, we did some kind of promotion for our reading program.  We wanted students to read A.L.O.T!! So we always had a “carrot” out there to encourage them in their reading.  And having a contest that students get to participate in is the easiest and best way.  One of our fifth grade teachers was  a real jewel and had a great sense of humor.  Her kids were always thinking of unusual things.  So when she proposed that they come up with the perfect reward for the school if they met their reading goals,  they set right to work.   When they finished, they had a doozy of an idea.  It was better than the time that the principal dressed up as Elvis and arrived in a limo to greet and thank children for their efforts.  The principal was a great sport and even wore an Elvis costume with exposed chest hair.  What a hoot!

Now for the new idea.  A really popular dance among children and teens was the Macarena.  The kids wanted the principal, assistant principal and the counselor to dance the Macarena in front of the school.  Well, that was fine with me. I didn’t know the Macrena but how hard could it be??  The second part of the idea was that we should wear swimsuits.

Swimsuits? We were all OLD-I had grandchildren.  And despite the fact that I am now a water fitness instructor and live in a swimsuit all year and have NO problem anymore with wearing it in front of adults at the Y, I am sure that I did NOT want to wear a swimsuit in front of the whole school. It would probably make the Atlanta news-not in a good way.

Well, adults can be sneaky, too.  The three of us talked and found a way we could wear swimsuits.  So we announced that we would do it at the end of the year IF they met the goals. THE DAY arrived.  Parents arrived.  Nothing like making a fool in front of everyone!!! The school was abuzz.  The dancing was scheduled for 1:45 in the gym.  We had a sound system all ready with the music.  We just smiled when kids asked us about our swimsuits.  It was close to THE TIME.  Children were seated in the gym. They were EXCITED! We strolled into the gym.  We were wearing raincoats. LONG raincoats. We were wearing hats from the 1950’s with feathers and veils. We wore long gloves.  The fifth grade teacher began to encourage the kids to tease us about the raincoats.  They wanted us to take them off.

So we did!  We were wearing turtlenecks, and leotards, and 1940’s swimsuits.  You know-the kind that Esther Williams wore in the movies. They were high cut and anyway we had on turtlenecks with long sleeves.  They were longer than some shorts that women wore then.  We were in swimsuits.  That was the deal.  We danced the Macarena and the fifth graders danced with us. It was a blast!

Today it is still a little scary that somewhere—out there—–is a video or two with us doing our performance!

2015 Day 13: Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Let’s quickly flash back to another time-say 1964. I am in high school.  It is about October.  And I have created my “want” list for Christmas.  It was not long. It had ONE item on it.  I wanted an angora sweater.  They were SO popular!  They were made in gorgeous light colors-pastel pink, light blue, maybe light yellow.  I wanted a pink one.  A LOT. Why did I want one?  Well, everyone in high school wanted one.  Well-perhaps the seniors did not want one because they already had one.  I would give up everything (not really) for one of these sweaters.  Probably they were itchy. However, NO ONE would actually admit it might be scratchy.  I think that wanting this sweater was probably the only time that I might have been obsessed about a piece of clothing.  My Mom knew that I wanted one.  So I just left it in her hands.  That was the best thing to do.

One day in November, my Mom and I were at a department store in our town.  It was a wonderful store.  The main store was in Atlanta. They had everything anyone could EVER want.  The junior department was downstairs beside the bakery.  Yes-they had a bakery.  It was a wonderful bakery.  They made cream horns, for one thing.  Ahhh.  They also made the best coconut cake IN THE WORLD. I cried when they closed their bakery. We had coconut cake for every family dinner and holiday dinner.  Oh My, it was good!

Anyway-back to my story-Mom and I were riding the escalator to the second floor. As it moved upward, I was gazing in awe at the racks and racks of junior angora sweaters on sale for Christmas.  My Mom was gazing at a rack of coats. She knew I really needed a coat.  She tugged at my arm and said, “Look at that corduroy car coat. Isn’t it cute?” I took one look and said the unforgivable, “That’s so ugly.”  Mom didn’t say anything else and neither did I.  We continued on our ride to the second floor.

Fast forward now to Christmas Day.  Opening Presents. Being excited that I would have THAT sweater.  There was one large box left.  It was mine! Yay! Be still my heart! I ripped the paper off.  I pulled the top off! I tore the tissue paper away! It was……the ugly coat! My Mom gently said that she had already bought it because she knew I needed one.  Boy did I feel like a heel.  I put the coat on and fastened the buttons.  It fit perfectly.  The collar was this fake Sherpa kind of material that felt cozy and wonderful.  The pockets were roomy.  And it looked really really good on me!

Fast forward down the road–several years.  It is winter and I am wearing probably the best fitting and warmest car coat that I have ever had.  And I finally have my big feet out of my mouth.  Mom’s do know best!

 

2015 Day 4: The Hat Era

This morning as I was walking to church from my car, I noticed a couple walking ahead of me. The gentleman was holding an umbrella over his wife and she was really dressed up. I was in flats and a raincoat. I felt rather dumpy behind her. She had on a black suit, black heels and the most gorgeous black hat. As I watched them go in the front door of the church, I had a flashback to a different time. I call it the Hat Era. And I have several of my Nannie’s hats to share with you today.

When I was a child, I always wore a hat to church in the spring and summer. Everybody did. I wore white short gloves, too. Everyone did. Most hats would go with a variety of dresses. Children’s hats were primarily of three styles. The first style was for babies and toddlers. They were the lacey cap that tied under the chin. The second hat was what we called the sailor hat with the wide brim and with a ribbon tie under the chin. Sometimes all you had was a stretchy strap that was itchy and pinched. When you reached 11 or 12, you could graduate to the hat that I call the I Love Lucy Hat. Hats 020

The next hat is the grown-up version of “Lucy”.  I love the fake stones on the side of the hat. It was more an everyday kind of hat. You might wear it grocery shopping!

Hats 018

Next you see a small pillbox with—-glory be—A veil! You have to love veils. This one only comes to the end of my nose. It also has a perky red bow in the back. Can you see this with a navy polka-dot dress and navy blue and white spectator pumps? Classy.

Hats 019 

The next hat is spectacular! It has large fabric fins in two colors that shoot up from the hat. The veil is MUCH longer. It comes down to my chin. You have to use a hat pin to keep this one in place. For the uninformed, hat pins were just really long straight pins that went through the hat into your hair and back out in the hat. It kept hats in place.

Hats 017

This last hat is my FAVORITE. I love the rust colored velvet fabric. I adore the three feathers that extend from the front of the hat. You feel like a sophisticated grown-up person in this hat!

Hats 021

When we had Hat Days at my school, I always wore these hats. Sometimes I took two of them and would switch out at lunch. The children loved them and probably thought that I was crazy for wearing them in public. For me, they reminded me of my Nannie. When I wore them, I was always a little closer to her.

Day 2 2015: Oh those “Unmentionables”!

I grew up in the 1950’s when most of you were not even a glimmer in your grandmother’s eye!  Probably you have no idea of what an unmentionable even is-right?  This morning I was talking to a lady who was about my age and her physical therapist.  You see, I volunteer at one of our local hospitals in out-patient PT.  And somehow we became sidetracked to this topic.  After much laughter together, I thought this would be an informative topic for tonight!

In the 50’s, life was simpler in many ways.  And what was not out front in the public was simply not shown nor discussed in mixed company.  Hence the name “unmentionable” was coined.  It covered a variety of clothing that was never seen by the public.  You know-brassieres, step-ins, girdles, crinolines, garters, stockings.  I clearly remember going to the local Sears and Roebuck store in my town to purchase brassieres .  You had to know what you planned to purchase because they were not on display.  They were in drawers and those drawers were closed!  A saleslady would have to pull them out for you to see and to select.  And please believe me when I say that there was not a choice of colors.  They were white.  Just white. No patterns.  No colors. No prints.  No push-up. And they were cotton. Just cotton.  As a teenager, I was so excited when bras began to be made in beige!

Step-ins were another name for panties.  Once again they were cotton and white.  They came to your waist.  No thongs, hip huggers, bikinis, no lace, no flowers……….just white cotton.  Step-ins for older ladies were bloomer-like and you could go to the bathroom by simply pulling the open leg aside.  My Nannie told me it was a convenience to wear them if all you had was an outhouse!

Slips were another unmentionable.  First of all, you would NOT leave the house without a slip.  Every dress or skirt and blouse covered a slip.  There was no option. It was required.  Ladies and young ladies wore slips.  Not half slips-full slips.  White slips. Period. End of discussion.

The slips that I hated the most were required wearing for little girls.  They were called crinolines and were created by the devil himself.  They were made of scratchy netting and made your skirt stay away from your body and look fluffy.  They were starched (ouch!) and ironed and worn with all your dresses.  You see, little girls wore dresses with a waistband and skirts were fluffy.  And you couldn’t run or jump rope very well with these itchy inventions. And try sitting in a desk in a hot classroom. You could not wiggle. You were a girl and that was unladylike!

Next, we have to mention the biggest and most carefully guarded secret to a trim waist-the girdle.  If you think that Spanx is powerful, then you have never worn a girdle.  They kept you slim, got rid of any bulges, created a waist if you wore a longline girdle, and made your “sitter” go to sleep. And we wore them all day.  Under a dress.  To school.  Some girdles went from your bra area all the way down to your mid-thigh.  And we wore them all summer.  Just image how hot they were!

Last, we must give some time to the garter belt and hosiery. Listen everyone-THERE WAS NO PANTYHOSE! None.  Girls wore socks until they were in high school and they didn’t shave their legs.  When they reached the age when it was permissible by their mother, they might began to wear a garter belt (unless they were already wearing a girdle).  It is quite popular now-if you believe the companies that make undies. But then, it was uncomfortable and ugly.  If you didn’t pull up your hosiery high enough, you had wrinkles.  If you pulled them too high, they tore.  Sometimes the garter became unhooked and your hose fell down! Awkward!!! When you became really older, you wore your hosiery  rolled up at your knee with a garter. Thank goodness by then you wore your dresses long to cover this gorgeous part of your clothing!

So the next time you purchase underwear, be thankful that yours comes in colors and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s to every lump and bump on your body!