During World War 2 people couldn’t get fabric or clothes because almost everything was going for War supplies. My dad was at the front and Mother, Dab (my brother), and I lived in one of Granddad and Grandmother’s upstairs apartments in their beautifully restored Victorian house on Greenwood Ave. Grandmother wanted to keep herself and mother busy, so she started bringing the clothes out of the attic to alter for Dab and I. They started cutting children’s’ clothing from adult garments. It seemed to me as if I had to stand still every day for fittings. I fidgeted, but Grandmother and Mother went on relentlessly making clothes the whole nine months dad was at in the army.
One day they put a dress on me and I reached up and ripped it apart from neck to hem. My seamstresses were so astonished they forgot to smack my bottom and I seized the moment to make a swift getaway. Naturally the tailoring continued until the war was over and Dad came home to move us to another town where he had purchased a restaurant with the aid of the G. I. bill. There, I was the best dressed child in our new town, which was right up against the Sangre de Christo mountain range and to me the most beautiful place in the world.
When Grandmother came to look after us kids and the restaurant while Mother and Dad went on a trip I wore my jeans and flannel shirt for a full week and Grandmother didn’t complain about it one bit. I have never been able to understand why she let me get away with it. She let us have an ice-cream bar out of the freezer every day after school as well.
I got to dress up in brand-new cowgirl clothes, hat and all, to be in a fashion show with some of the other girls who lived in town. There were only about 20 children of all ages in the whole town. Grandmother had given me her boots by then and I wore a cowboy hat as well. We sang, “Ghost riders in the Sky” to entertain the ladies who came to the show.
Every year on my birthday, which was two days before Halloween, mother threw a party for me with the classmates that lived in town. We went trick or treating in that safe little town where no one ever got hurt, we didn’t lock our doors, and nobody stole. I wore a dress mother had given me to play dress-up in. It was a deep green velvet and I felt like a princess. The bonus was that I wore it for several years because it was adult sized to begin with.
Mother had another dress I loved. My daughter has it now. It’s pink silk with ruching and pink embroidery. It was given to my mother by her best friend, Katherine, who received it from England in 1922 when they were children. Katherine’s mother wouldn’t let her wear the dress because it was pink and she had red hair. What a beautiful dress it is, as light as gossamer.
Thank you Lord for giving me such a good childhood with parents and a whole town full of people who loved me. Thank you for the gorgeous mountains, and the teachers and pastors who worked so hard to help us all become more civilized.