Friday, April 10, 2015


Except for that one time when I bought a black and white checked dress with a red belt, I have never enjoyed shopping for clothes.  Even last week when I went to buy a pair of slippers I came home with the wrong size.  Seems they were made in China and marked with European  numbers. ???  How do you try on slippers hanging on a rack?  I used to be able to walk on walls, but I can no longer do that.

I bought that black and white dress with the red belt when I was sixteen.  It may have been the first time I bought a dress by myself.  I was working at Nelsons' Confectionary and Grocery, and for the first time had my own money. Longer dresses were in, and this was my first one -- that meant mid-calf instead of a hem at the knee.  We all wore dresses then, or skirts and sweaters - no pants or jeans - and bras, and slips, bobby socks and saddle shoes or hosiery with seams up the back, garter belts or girdles, matching purses and shoes, white or kid gloves, and a hat, always a hat to church - scarves to school, the kind you fold into a triangle and then put over your head and tie under your neck.  If you were lucky, you knew how to tie a Girl Scout knot.  Babushkas? 

Sizes were different then, too.  Junior sizes were odd numbers starting with size 9.  Women's sizes were even numbers starting with 10.  Older women,  matrons? bought half sizes, starting with 10 ½. It's all screwed up now.  If you can get away from the XS, S, M, L, XL, 0X, 1X, 2X, 3X, and 4X, for women and SP, MP, LP, and XLP for petites (That means for short women, not that you're cute as a button.) then you have to go into the never-never land of numbers.  Beginning with 0  (yes, that's zero) through  99?   I don't know where it stops.  I just know I'm not a zero, but that dress with the red belt was a 9.  

Underwear is still all kinds of odd sizes.  Slips and bras are in the 30-48 range.  Then there are cup sizes, AA through D, DD, DDD, E through L. There are strapless bras, and underwire bras, and training bras, and falsies to insert -- and of course half slips.  Panties of the 100% white cotton elastic leg brief kind (We've been here before.) or bikinis or thongs in nylon or silk.   Those sizes are all in the low numbers  4 through 15.  Colors have stayed the same, usually any undergarments come in white, beige, or black -- sometimes pink.

And there's a universal rule, too.  Anything you buy can be marked small, medium, or large and you get to guess.

So now, to the crux of the matter.  I hate to shop, but I've gone through various stages.  Shop unwillingly and go through the trying-on-in-the-dressing-room, carrying your little number tab so the lady watching the rooms knows how many you took in.  Of course in the high-end places you don't have to worry about that.  Trust is their middle name.  I've shopped in them all -- maybe I didn't buy in them all, but I shopped.

My friend Marilyn and I used to go to Jacksonville from Gainesville to shop, and she swore she couldn't get me out of Sears.  Well, I knew Sears. So it was natural to go to Sears.  Davisons was new to me.  There was no O. T. Johnson's like there was in Galesburg where I grew up. This was the beginning of malls where we could find more than one store, and just as it is in Athens, high-end and low-end meant more than just merchandise.

Sears had sizes one could trust.  They had a catalog.  No online shopping, but there was that huge catalog and the telephone. That's where I bought my tennis shoes for $2.50.  Amy called them my screeties.  No, I don't know why.  She just did.  I bought other things there, too, because I could order them. I ordered so often that I had our sixteen-digit charge card number memorized - from sheets to underwear for the kids.  Bonus was getting a package in the mail addressed to ME. Amy also said my bras came from New Zealand.  I don't know why she said that either.  They came from Sears.

Remember that post about 100 % WHITE COTTON ELASTIC LEG BRIEFS?  I finally found them at Sears.

I never had enough nerve to drive to Jacksonville, so Marilyn did it.  She was brave that way, but on one trip we had a flat tire.  I think she left to get help and I stayed with the car.  We were probably both scared, but we made it home and I don't even remember the details, just the flat tire part and the scared part.

On another of our trips we both had men's pj's on our lists, because Jim and Wayne were going to an APGA convention, and they would be staying together in a hotel.  At a display table with men's pajamas on sale, it took us about two seconds to set them up.  Can't you just see them opening their suitcases and pulling out matching pajamas?

When we moved to Athens, the shopping trips were to Rich's in Atlanta, but I was still too chicken to drive. Usually Marge drove, because she was brave and had a big station wagon -- lots of room for packages and four or five women.  It was fun, but I missed Marilyn.

One year when we went, wigs were really the thing to have --  and boots.  Wigs and Boots -- sounds like a country song.  We always split up to shop and I ran into Marge right after I bought a pair of black boots for myself.  (It was supposed to be Christmas shopping, but we're women.)   I tried to talk Marge into buying some, too, but she said "No, boots don't look good on me."  Well, everything looked good on Marge, so I kept at her and finally she said, "Okay, if you'll come with me while I try them on."   I don't think I've ever laughed so hard.  I didn't know her legs made parentheses, but they did in boots.  She was from Texas, so it seemed unnatural that she couldn't wear boots, but she was right.  Boots were not for her.  But, she was not about to let me outspend her, so she bought a wig that looked beautiful on her, and for the record I never liked the way I looked in a wig.

I think hats are coming back and I wish I were younger and taller.  Hats are fun.

For the next trip to Atlanta, you have to remember that I love tools.  I grew up spending parts of my daily life in my dad's shop and learned to use all kinds of tools -- hammers, saws, screw drivers, wrenches, pliers, chisels . . .    I know, I get carried away writing about tools, definitely off the 'shopping' track, but there is a point to be made.

Back to Rich's in Atlanta and my good friend JoAnne.  You've read about her before and know that something funny always happens when we are together, and this isn't even the last thing I remember. Well, I was pregnant with Wes on that trip to Atlanta, and when I'm eating for two, I'm eating for two.  We had just had lunch in the Magnolia Room at Rich's, and after shopping for another hour or so, I ran into JoAnne.  I tried to get her to go back and eat some more lunch or dessert or something..  She just looked at me in that way she has and what she said was absolutely JoAnne at her best.  She said,  "No, Chris.  Go play in the tools."  I probably went to the candy department.

Now I order from Amazon and send most of it back.

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