More Scrapping Scraps

I finished another story scrap for my SCRAPS scrapbook–finally.

As a reminder this is the first post. Click the photo to read it.

 

When I was a preteen, my grandmother sewed me shorts sets from cotton blend prints. She made the tops and shorts out of the same material, but the tailoring was fairly sophisticated, so the end product had more in common with a summer dress than a romper. I don’t know where she got the idea from or if it was in style in the sixties. At least one fabric was made into matching mother-daughter shorts sets for Mom and me.

 

But my favorite set was in a fabric that I found very cheering. Balloons in varying shades of spring greens, both solids and prints, float on a white field. The shorts were mid-thigh, and the top had a fairly high neckline. Because Grandma made it for me, the outfit fit perfectly. It was comfortable, and I felt good wearing it.

 

Not that I didn’t love to wear my denim shorts and short-sleeved sweatshirt. But Grandma’s short sets were lighter weight than my other play clothes and much more convenient than dresses.

In this photo I am posing alone–to see the one with my mother look at the finished pages at the bottom of the post.

In our old photos, I found myself wearing the balloon set on two different dates. The summer photo came first. It was on the occasion of our trip to Canada to attend Expo 67. In fact, in a scrapbook, Mom labeled the picture, “Mother and daughter enjoying a rest.” A body of water is behind us. Below that photo, my mother had pasted another photo and labeled it, “Sawmill at Upper Canada Village.”  There is another image of just me in the same spot but without my mother (the one above). From examining the few photographs I could find online, I do think these photos of me are also from Upper Canada Village.

 

In the photos, I am wearing the shorts set, with its matching triangle headscarf tied at the nape of my neck. I also wear a blue ¾ length sleeve cardigan that Grandma knitted for me. On my feet are navy blue Keds-type shoes.

 

I’ve written before about our Expo 67 visit, but we also went to other tourist sites in Canada during our trip. Upper Canada Village was one of the places we visited. Niagara Falls was another.

 

My grandmother must have made this outfit for me in the spring of 1967 when I was finishing up elementary school (6th grade). I started junior high in September.

The other photo revives vivid memories. It was taken 31 October 1967, Halloween, probably around 6 PM. I remember my mother posing me in front of the living room fireplace. I have very few memories of actual picture taking, so this is very special to my heart.

I am wearing a heavenly sheer green silk flapper dress that had been owned by my grandfather’s cousin Therese Remine. It was heavily beaded, and over time, the silk had weakened, and the beads were too heavy for the thin fibers. By the time I got home that night, the dress had already begun to rip. You might wonder why my mother would allow me to ruin an expensive vintage dress by wearing it one night for Halloween. I wonder that myself, but my mother’s value system is limited. To sum it up: she didn’t have any interest in the dress, so she didn’t care what I did with it.

 

Because the dress was sheer, I had to choose clothes to wear underneath, and the only thing that seemed to my 12-year-old mind to “go” was the balloon shorts set because both outfits were green.  I made myself a flapper headband to match and carried a handbag that must have belonged to Therese, although I am not positive about that. You see, I used to collect old discarded fancy wear and had quite a collection from a few women.

 

It had been my mother’s idea to make a headband. I don’t know how much I knew about the 1920s, and I probably needed her suggestion to visualize the whole outfit. I have mulled over the question: where did I first learn about flappers with their bobbed hair and short skirts? Their narrow flat outlines so like my own. I don’t remember what movies or books might have shaped whatever image I had by age twelve.

 

An essential part of my costume that night was the large diamond-shaped earrings. I’m not sure where those dangly earrings came from. I hope I didn’t lift them from the dime store at the plaza.

 

While I stood in the middle of our living room, smiling into the camera, my mother pulled her face out from behind the camera and pinned me with her gaze. “This will be your last year trick-or-treating. You’re getting too old.” So that was that. I felt compelled to enjoy myself this one last time.

 

The living room accessories in the photo were accumulated from various places, generally from other people. The big brass candlesticks were heavy. The painting was not a copy, but an inexpensive original painting. The Don Quixote figures had been displayed at a home décor shop. My father had purchased an old house on Westnedge on a land contract and rented it to an interior decorator who opened the shop. When she went out of business, she gave my father some small furnishings in lieu of back rent. That was how we ended up with the large wood fork and spoon that hung on our kitchen wall for years (yes, like in Marie’s kitchen on  Everybody Loves Raymond).

 

I look so young in these photos, and yet poised on the brink of burgeoning womanhood. I remember how I felt wearing that flapper dress. The twenties was my era, and I felt as if I belonged.

 

As my photograph was snapped, the bell rang. My friends had arrived so we could begin the house-to-house process. That’s when I realized I had to wear my wool coat over my costume. Or rather, my mother informed me I had to.

 

We trudged from front door to front door, but the knowledge that this was my “last time” weighed on my mind. My fingers grew chilled from the cold that had arrived early to Michigan. That’s where this memory ends.

 

67 Comments

Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Creative Nonfiction, Essay, Family history, Flash Nonfiction, Memoir, Nonfiction, travel, Vintage American culture, Writing, Writing prompt

67 responses to “More Scrapping Scraps

  1. Jackie made those matching sets for her and little Matthew c1970

  2. Expo ’67. My family also made the drive there from Ohio. How we did it, though, still boggles my mind. The five of us, plus one of my older sister’s nursing school friends, packed into a Chevy Corvair! Ah, the memories that come flooding back! Enjoyed your post and photos. Stylish young woman, you were!:-)

    • LOL, I have no idea how you did that either! There were five of us on the way there, actually, because the elderly lady whose flapper dress that had been (the one I wore in the fall) went with us. It was her brother and SIL we stayed with. We didn’t have her on the way back. But I’m sure our car was bigger than a Corvair. I think it was a Buick LeSabre. That’s the car my dad got when I was 9, so we probably still had it. No doubt, the nicest car we ever had!

    • By the way, I wanted to mention something I had wanted to before, but got sidetracked with all the extra work I am doing for this pandemic (no, I’m not kidding–it’s ridiculous): I hope all goes well with your A-fib and all. This is not the most fun time to have something like that kick up, I’m sure, but it never would be. My husband is in a halter monitor now so they can check for A-fib, which we (he and I) don’t think he has, but they want to be sure. The one thing I’ve noticed through my mother’s medical care about the possible need for a valve is they are doing amazing things today in that area of cardiology. My best to you, Mark.

  3. What a wonderful memory! I was lucky. My mother made a lot of my clothes especially when I was young. One year I too, was a flapper for Halloween. My mother made a shift dress and sewed rows of fringes on it. She was a flapper in her youth so it was pretty authentic. I had it for years and some friends borrowed it for costume parties. Wish I had some treasures but my family wasn’t big on photos. I have very few pictures of myself or anyone in my family prior to the 70s. Almost none of my dad who died in 1958.

    • The thought of your mom being a flapper! Wow, didn’t that intrigue you?! I find that so sad that your family didn’t take many pix. I take it that nobody had a camera because once a camera was in the household, usually that’s when photos started being taken. My family started with the picture taking bug probably 120 years ago. It’s in the blood ;). Do you have a good snapshot of your dad AND a portrait?

      • No portrait and no picture of him in his last 5 years. The most current was a family shot for my 1st Holy Communion. I have a few from when he was a young man. They were of family and relatives and I don’t know whose camera was used. My parents didn’t have a camera (at least that I remember) until my brother was an adult. He had one and snapped some shots.

        • That lack of a camera is such a shame. I am so sorry you don’t have more of your dad to remember him by. Thank goodness your brother got a camera! xo

  4. Wilma J Kahn

    Great story, made of so many details. It reaches into the past and the past of the past, as well as toward the future. I love the outfits. Oh, the poignancy of a disintegrating flapper dress — and of a last time trick-or-treating.

    • Ah, you’re right. The past and the past of the past and towards the future. That dress! Thinking about my mom letting me wear it gives me the same feelings of loss as her giving away all those gorgeous (even hand-beaded) Barbie clothes my grandmother made. What was she thinking?! Shows you how different we all are–different things mean something different to different people, if that makes any sense. Do you have special trick-or-treating memories?

  5. What a fantastic Halloween costume, Luanne. For your last time out trick-or-treating, you sure rocked it! You look so happy. I remember dressing up as a 1950’s teenager with the poodle skirt, bobby socks and saddle shoes. I don’t think I looked as sophisticated as you!

  6. Fun memories. My mother sewed my clothes – often matching sets – I guess it was economical, lol. I made a shorts and top set for my son with a dinosaur print, and my kids never stop teasing me about it. The flapper dress reminded me of a dress Mom made for my older sister who was a gogo dancer.

    • That’s such a cute story about the dinosaur outfit! Now that you mention that grandma did make my brother short sets as well. And pajamas. I don’t think he liked the shorts sets as well as I did.

  7. I loved this idea when you first wrote about it and love it still – it helps that you have those ‘scraps’ full of memories.

    • Andrea, thank you! It helps so much. The fabric looks like it did in those days. No deterioration that I can see. And it really brings it all back. I can just touch that shorts set!

  8. Sweet memories, and you look pretty and happy.

  9. Super memories, Luanne. Thanks for sharing

  10. These photos and the accompanying memories are fabulous, Luanne!
    I just love the flapper costume – your mother sounded just like my mom when she admonished you about your “last year because you’re getting too old.” That’s a comment my mom would have made if she’d thought about it in time! Great stories!

    • Maybe your mom was like mom in thinking that there were certain things that were “appropriate” for certain ages/stages in life. But now that I think about it, my mom also taught me that “older women” shouldn’t have long hair, that redheads shouldn’t wear red, etc. She’s a very open minded person in more important matters, but about petty things she can be judgmental!

      • My mom came across as judgmental in petty things and the more important matters, too. She struggled with the perception other people had of her – I think that was, um…I’m not really sure what else but a strange kind of vanity.

  11. Those are such wonderful memories, Luanne. We visited Niagara Falls and Upper Canada Village in the early 1970s. My mom sewed us several marching outfits from floral material. When I was young, I liked the homemade clothes. Less as a teen, then liked again about college age. I did sew some for myself in high school.

    Love your flapper costume!

  12. What great photos to go with a bittersweet memory. You were quite talented at that age to try and make anything yourself. I do love the flapper dress. They were made for style, not endurance though. It’s a shame it had to be covered up though. I that part of the country at the end of October, smart call. You are very lucky to have those memories of your grandmother, even the fragments. Memory is a tricky thing. I have chunks missing but I guess most of us do.

    • This is so strange. I wrote a comment for this. What in the world. I think I need to stop commenting from my iPad–a portion of them never “take.” Thank you, Marlene. I actually did sew when I was in junior high, mainly because my dad would pay for fabric, but not clothes hahaha. I think it was his training growing up as my grandmother’s son! I think most of us do have chunks missing. I guess memory works that way.

  13. What touching moments and memories, Luanne…lovely ….

  14. Thanks for sharing your stories and memories, Luanne. They always tend to jog my memory a bit. My mother made a lot of our clothes, too. And I made matching sundresses and short sets for my daughters. They laugh now because all of their clothes were matching when they were small, even the clothing that was bought.

    • That’s what I love about the memoir genre: how it makes readers think of their own memories! You must be talented to sew for your daughters. I never felt confident or willing to invest that time when my daughter was little, and I wouldn’t have sewn for my son because he was so picky. Well, I did make tutu “aprons” for every girl who came to my daughter’s 6th birthday party haha. Amazing that you dressed the girls in matching clothes. Was it on purpose? Did it make it easier?

      • I have no idea why I did it. They were 25 months apart. Maybe I thought it was just cute dressing little girls alike? They were pretty cute! And I wasn’t that talented at all. I had a couple of easy patterns that my mom helped me to learn. She was a very talented seamstress.

        • The publisher of my first book is making dresses like crazy for her granddaughter during the pandemic. It’s so fun to watch her creations on Facebook.

  15. Wow! Your grandma was SO talented with a sewing machine! Reminds me a bit of the little outfits I used to sew for my daughter when she was a toddler/preschooler! I’d make jumpers with matching small triangle head scarves out of the same material, usually cute cotton prints! Too bad I stopped sewing when she was a bit older – I got so busy with school! (I went back to college when I was 30.)

    • Ellie, yes, my grandmother was amazingly talented. She was the head fitter of the 28 shop at Marshall Field’s flagship store for decades and made clothing, draperies, etc. for celebrities and others on the side. She was offered a job in Hollywood in her field, but turned it down. You must have been talented to make clothes for your daughter. It takes a lot of effort. I hear you on getting too busy when you started school haha. Good for you, by the way!!!

      • OMG I somehow missed seeing this! Mea culpa!! Oh your grandma was special, then!! She turned down Hollywood?! Why?? I would’ve gone! 🙂 It takes effort but it’s worth it! Thanks! Stay well! xox

  16. This post is delightful, Luanne, and I love the photos of your young self. I had a flapper dress too, one that my mom sewed for the dance. It was pink satin with red fringe. I actually kept it until last year when we moved! What a charming idea to use the fabric and connect it with memories. I’m sure your mom will love looking at your SCRAPS! 🙂

    • Wow! Pink and red! That is very dramatic! Oh, I wish you had kept it, but did you take photos of it before you got rid of it? I think my Mom will get a kick out of the scrapbook when I’m done. She doesn’t have the memories of the stuff like I do, not because she has any memory loss but because she has never been big on memories, but now that she’s older she does get a kick out of what I do with memories and family history. I have scraps of HER clothes, and I am sure I remember them better than she does. We will see :).

  17. This post brought back so many memories! The matching short and blouse set. Triangle head scarves. Blue Keds sneakers. Expo 67. The story of your final Trick or Tricking was so poignant.

  18. Amy

    Such sweet and bittersweet memories. I remember my last Halloween as a trickortreater—8th grade. No one had to tell me. I just felt too old. We had just moved to a new town, and that may have been why. I didn’t know the neighbors, and the kids I went with were also all basically still strangers.

    Your grandmother was quite talented! In 1967 I was in 9th grade, and I remember that the fashion trend that year was short dresses made from cotton fabrics that had a pattern of small flowers on white—not dissimilar to the balloon pattern in overall appearance. I loved my version of that dress. In our 9th grade class picture of about 300 of us, almost every girl is wearing her own version of the same dress! It may have been the last time I followed a fashion trend!

    • It sounds like that was a pivotal year for you, Amy. But I guess a good time to move before you started high school, right?
      So funny about the dresses all the girls wore! I bet they were very pretty, too. When did you get to start to wear pants to school?

      • Amy

        When I was a junior, they said girls could wear slacks, but not jeans. (Boys, of course, had always been allowed to wear jeans.) That was the first step. Within a short period of time, we were wearing jeans.

        Aren’t you glad you’re a few years younger than I am?

  19. I envy your gift for remembering such details. I can’t remember any of my Halloween outings, and I suspect that I stopped going before I was 12. I know my mom sewed a little bit for me when I was very young, but it wasn’t something she had time to do regularly. I do remember learning to sew on her old Singer. Thank you for sharing your memories 🙂

    • Actually my “gift” can be a torment, too. I admit I did inherit this weird long term memory thing from my grandfather, but there can be bliss in not remembering things! Oh, that’s cool that you learned to sew. I first learned in 7th grade home ec. Did you have home ec class?

      • How often do we envy the “gifts” of others, not taking into consideration how such a gift could be a curse. There’s definitely something to be said for not remembering things 🙂 Yes, I took home ec classes. Generally they were my favorite classes since they gave me opportunities to be creative. My mom had one of those old Singer machines that was built into a cabinet. She didn’t really want me to use it so when I started getting assignments to sew, she got a portable machine for me. I made a lot of my own clothes but I wasn’t a good seamstress. I was always cutting corners and doing things “my way” because of my own impatience. Still, I managed a few nice outfits and even an unlined blazer while I was in high school. Once I started working and could afford to buy clothes off the rack, sewing fell by the wayside 😉

  20. I was absolutely intrigued by your post. I, too, am a LuAnne (I put the capital “A” in there for aesthetic reasons in third grade!) and we seem to have so much in common. From your post I think we are about the same age. One of my grandmothers was a flapper (the other a farmer). And I loved home created Halloween costumes. I grew up in TN but have lived in MI for over 30 years. I love it here, especially this lovely spring day. I live in SE MI in Troy in Oakland County. We might be neighbors! Wouldn’t that be fun. So glad I found your blog.

    • LuAnne, I am so sorry it took me so long to respond. I am so behind. So cool about your grandmother being a flapper! And the farmer, too. My favorite costume, because it was the first one I remember making, was my 3rd grade baby costume. My mother directed me in making a very elaborate baby bonnet. LOL I moved away from Michigan quite some time ago, but you can’t take the Michigan out of the girl. I am a product of Kalamazoo and will never forget it. Thank you so much for stopping by!!!

  21. I just love this! The whole thing!
    First I noted your happiness, sheer joy as much as sheer dress. My eldest daughter has worn several of her auntie’s old duds and no thought to preserving them had occurred to any of us. I do believe Auntie Drew still has some things stored though – a cape, for one, I’m sure.
    I noticed your home had actual art, which I found charming, because it seems rare doesn’t it? My mother’s home had art, but my father’s did not, and very few homes I visited as a child did. A lot of home interior and kitsch, but not so much art.
    I have my grandparents’ big spoon and fork, but when I say big, I mean they’re nearly my height.
    Thanks for taking me on this nostalgia trip 🙂

    • Yes, I think it’s rare to have art in the home, and I really liked that we did. Also, we had a needlework from Korea on the wall, and I still have that today.
      LOL re the big spoon and fork wow!!! Are they in your kitchen or somewhere else? What is that cape that is stored? Is it a dramatic cloth cape? A fur cape? From a uniform?
      You’re welcome re the nostalgia trip. Those are some of the best kind, aren’t they?!

  22. Anand Bose

    Beautiful Portrayal of thoughts Anand Bose from Kerala

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