The unpleasantness of my young life was the clothes I wore sometime. Hand-me-downs from my older sister’s wardrobe. The dresses, coats and skirts she had outgrows. Mama would sit down at the old tredle sewing machine; take up a few inches on the sides, shorten lengths and sometime adding a bit of colorful tape or ric-rac here and there and with a satisfied smile on her face, I can almost hear Mama saying…
“Just as good as new.”
My sister always seemed to wear her clothes with an air of elegance. By the time she outgrew them and they were “put away” and left for me to “grow to them,” they were a bit faded and out of style. A term that I knew the meaning, even back then.
I had worn the same made-over, hand-me-down coat of my sister’s all of the past year… a coat that she received the pleasure of the “warm snuggling” and the “new smelling”; along with the “how pretty” compliments from someone every time she wore it.
“I’m not wearing this ugly coat one more day,” I shouted, and threw it on the floor. As usual, my protests went unheeded and I finished out the season feeling like Little Orphan Annie. My desire was to look like my friend and classmate, Wanda. Wanda always wore the prettiest clothes. Although most were hand-made, they had that store-bought look.
Soon after my temper tantrum, I heard Mama say to Daddy…
“Maybe you should ‘draw a flicker’ at the mine tomorrow, stop by Reeves Store and see if they have a coat to fit her. She does need one.”
I was so excited and hurried home the next evening getting off the school bus. I recognized Daddy’s rolling gait as he topped the hill and ran to meet him. He handed the package to me.
My brand “new” coat and it was beautiful!
I felt confident my classmates saw me getting off the bus the next morning as I slowly walked up the steps.
The pleasure was all mine…especially the compliments of “how pretty” my new coat was…from everyone…except Wanda.
Wanda sidled up close to me.
“Is your coat new?” she asked.
I ignored Wanda and her hurtful remark as best I could.
My coat had been hanging on the rack in Reeves Store for some time…maybe too long, but at least, it wasn’t a made-over garment.
Without complaint I wore that coat proudly that year…and the next.
I never forgot, but I did forgive Wanda.
Wanda was my friend for a long time. I missed her after she moved to Borger, Texas sometime in the early 40’s.
You see…although Mama “sewed” for my older sister and me, making up patterns cut from paper sacks and newspapers, Wanda’s mother was a “seamstress” who received pay for her work here in the community…who no doubt owned more than one pair of “sharp” scissors that cut material from the bolt, not just cheap print and feed and flour sacks, always making sure the sewing thread matched the material perfectly, who was never asked to do much altering, since she always used up-to-date McCall and Simplicity dress patterns.
Wanda didn’t understand. She never experienced the feeling of wearing hand-me-downs…the make-overs of an older sister.
Wanda didn’t have…she wasn’t blessed with a pretty older sister, like me, who wore her clothes with an air of elegance. Wanda only had brothers…two brothers. Burtis and Dell. I was the fortunate one.