(T) Greer (B) MR
Have you noticed that even very young girls are fashion conscious? They don't have to be taught the concept. The need to be "in style" seems to be inborn. Little boys can naturally make that "vroom" sound cars make and most little girls like pretty clothes. It's a fact of life.
I had a hometown friend named Martha Ray. She was the same friend of "swimming lessons" fame. Her daddy owned a dry goods store so she always had cute clothes. When the color "Magenta" hit the fashion scene in the early 60's, she had a magenta sweater and skirt set to die for. When she would wear it, I just couldn't take my eyes off the color. One of my other buddies, Greer (of Camp Desoto fame) also wore great clothes. When we were all five and in Mrs. Doty's Merry Morning Kindergarten class we had a little practice recital at the City Hall during the Christmas season. Greer and several others girls wore my ALL-TIME favorite dress. It had a very full red skirt with suspenders and a a white blouse with puffy sleeves. But wait until you hear this! Attached at intervals all over the skirt were ribbons with real round peppermint candies tied on. The girls had matching bows in their hair with lots of candy tied to it. I will NEVER forget those beautiful dresses. I could hardly do my dances for staring.
My mother knew me and she was sure I'd probably need a little break from all the tap dancing and ballet moves and that I'd be pulling off the candy and eating it as a snack during Mrs. Doty's mini-recital. So she dressed me in yellow dotted Swiss. Oh, it was cute enough, but it was more suited to Easter, and I stuck out like a sore thumb among all those peppermints.
I have always wanted to look "casually put together." You know the look, like you didn't take two and a half hours and labored to get dressed. You just pulled your thick hair back, slung on some lovely expensive clothes, and tiny bit of natural gloss, a puff of perfume and you were on your way. If I am reading all the signs correctly, that isn't going to happen to me. First, I am too short-waisted to wear expensive clothes. The clothes I like are designed for extremely tall, thin women...I am neither. Next, my hair has to be coaxed into position daily. Once it assumes the position, it can't move. So that casual look has always alluded me.
As a child, my fashion life consisted mostly of drawing clothes for Betty & Veronica paperdolls. But my love of fashion was almost cut short when Martha Ray and I were shipped off to Camp Garraway, a Baptist camp in the Jackson, MS area. Before I was relegated to month long Camp Desoto my parents decided to try out a week long camp. Martha R and I didn't care for the outdoors. We quite enjoyed sitting in her den eating little sandwiches her mother made and cut into little shapes for us. We enjoyed playing the piano in her sunroom and ...singing hymns. We were a lively duo. She played the piano and I howled...oops, sang Amazing Grace with exceptional vigor.
Life was actually pretty good until Camp Garraway. Mother packed my suitcase with coordinated tops and shorts. Socks and underwear were tucked neatly inside each set. Bluejeans were sent as a precautionary measure, as if there might be a cold snap in the middle of July in Mississippi. We arrived at camp and were shown to our tent. Uh, oh. Bunkbeds. I have a fear of heights and for some reason MR didn't mind hoisting upward every night, so she took the top bunk. As thin as she was, the mattress and slats weren't very good and every night when she turned over, my eyes would pop wide open expecting the inevitable crash landing that I was positive was going to take place. (It never did.)
After mealtime, we would have a guest missionary speaker. This first day I was feeling pretty homesick, but I'd look at my cute madras shorts outfit and feel a little better. We eagerly sat waiting on the speaker. She was a nice enough looking woman. Probably mid-forties and I secretly thought she looked like she wasn't very happy. She began her sermon. I was listening intently. The theme was dressing and acting like a Christian. I'm not sure how I misunderstood, but I obviously wasn't listening well and I got confused at what she was saying. Something about wearing shorts and showing off too much leg...a "going to hell" offense. Covered legs=good legs. This isn't what she said, but I thought that's what she meant. I was petrified. I looked down at my shorts clad legs and my heart sank. My madras shorts were surely the ticket to "hades".
The next morning when MR started to dress in her shorts, I stopped dead in my denim tracks."What are you doing?" I gasped. Horrified, I said, "We can't wear shorts!"
"Why?" she implored. "Didn't you hear Mrs. Fire and Brimstone last night? She said we'd go to hell if we wore shorts!' MR was visibly shaken. She said, "Is that why you have on those jeans?"
"Yes! I'm not taking any chances!" I said convincingly. So dutifully, MR put on her jeans too and every day for 5 straight days we wore those bluejeans.
By the time our mothers arrived to pick us up, we were covered in heat rash. However, we were assured that when we arrived at the Pearly Gates, we'd be welcomed in. We couldn't even dare to think of the fate of those half naked heathens running merrily around the camp.
It took quite a while for our mothers to convince us to peel off the jeans. I must admit, I've worn shorts several times since then, but I've never been comfortable in them. You know, "Hot now or Hot later...it's your choice...I'm just sayin'
Lessons to be learned:
1. Look, camp is just NOT for everyone. Don't force the issue. It can do permanent damage to sensitive types.
2. Looking casual has its advantages, but when I've tried it , I look like I've just arrived from the butterbean patch on an all afternoon "pick".
3. Shorts may have their place in the fashion scene, but be careful of how much leg is exposed. Remember: good legs=covered legs.