Christmas memory

2008-01-01 12.01.20

 

 

 

I still have the small music box that I got for Christmas when I was a young girl.  It was the year that my curiosity overwhelmed me and I peeked.  I’m sure I’m not the only child who has ever done this.  Considering the small number of presents under the tree, it was almost unbearable to wait till Christmas morning to see what was inside, so I snuck into the living room after everyone was in bed and opened it carefully and then my curiosity satisfied, I carefully put the wrapping back.

Christmas morning came and I had to act surprised when I tore off the wrapping paper.  It was an extravagant present for my parents to buy for me and I’m sure that my enthusiasm was genuine.   The box is a treasured reminder of the lesson I learned about patience.

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Fun in Frontier Village

We enjoyed going to the outdoor museum and park in Las Vegas known as Frontier Village.   My brother Steve and I got to sit in a little recording booth and for small change got about one minute to put our song on a small record.  I don’t remember the song title, but it was a lot of fun for us.  We also posed for a photo in a covered wagon.  That far off look in our eyes was probably a longing for ice cream on the way home.  (The tie meant it was Sunday, after church.)

Steven

My younger brother was born in Nevada. (We moved there when I was about 6).  Steve was adored by all of us.  I don’t have many pictures of him at this time.

My dad made him a swing on the clothesline post.

 

Early childhood

We lived in Denver, Colorado in the early 40s.  My brother Gene (7  yrs)  is on the left and Dwain (about 9) in the tie.(meaning it is Sunday)   I am about 3 years and am holding my favorite doll.  It looks like snow on the roof.  Must have been late spring.

The next picture shows a few years later.  We were a happy trio then.  Again my brothers are wearing ties.  I am wearing warm winter (leggings) pants over my dress.  I only wore dresses to church–women and young girls did not wear pants to church ever.

This was taken in our neighborhood (when I was about 5).

Family History

Meet my parents,  Harold and Eula CraigMy parents met in Mangum, Oklahoma.  They were both born in Mangum and grew up there. My mom was fifteen (almost sixteen) when she married my dad.  He was twenty-five.  It was the beginning of the depression.  My day was a house painter–he traveled around to find jobs.  My mom washed and ironed clothes to earn extra money.  They couldn’t have had much of a social life, but they had each other. And a year later their first child arrived and then another in the next year.  The hardships they went through only made them stronger.  They were married over 50 years!  Here they are at their 50th Anniversary, still very much in love.

Where were you, Fairy Godmother, when I needed you?

Walking through town on my way home from school, I always liked to see what was new in the store windows.  Not that I had money to buy–just to look and to  wish.  (perchance to dream).   The one store I liked most was a clothing store for children and young teens.   Not just school outfits, but also beautiful party dresses were usually displayed.  (Not todays mini skirts or tight jeans or baggy pants with acid wash).  No, these were the dreams of fairy tales.

And then one day I found myself in the midst of a dream.  A dream of wearing the dress.

Just entering junior high,  I had long before given up my pastel Easter dresses.  Now I was ready for something more grown up.  And I had just seen it in the store window.

The turquoise colored taffeta dress with rhinestone buttons down the front  sparkled and caught this young girls eye.  No demure collar here–no puffed sleeves– this was the dress for me!  And yet I could only wish.

I knew any  extra money would be destined for new shoes.  My shoes at the moment were worn out penny loafers.  They had lucky pennies in them though.  It was fun to find a lucky penny to put in your shoe.  And I had two lucky pennies to wish on.

But, without a fairy godmother to pull this off for me, it was still only a dream.

A week passed and  I learned that some of the clubs at school were inviting the  seventh grade students to join.  As the invitations were given out there came advice–to dress up and try to look your best.  Well, I thought.  I have nothing to wear and then the thought came that maybe my dream could come true.

First though, I had to convince my parents that without the dress I would probably be laughed at.  With the dress, I’d surely have a chance to join the club.  After much pleading, my dad took me downtown and the dress was finally mine.

The evening of the meeting arrived and with trembling fingers I fastened the rhinestone buttons.  My mom had curled my hair. She even allowed a touch of lipstick that made me feel very grown up.  I was almost ready to be driven to school, when my little world crumbled.  My penny loafers were the only shoes I had to wear. (Where was my fairy godmother now that I really needed her?)

So with much chagrin, I went to the meeting.  To my surprise, the rest of the girls were wearing skirts and sweaters or simple dresses.  Feeling very much out-of-place,  I sat near the back of the room and tried to hide my feet, tucking them under my chair.  I sat there embarrassed, wishing the clock would strike 12 and I could run home.  And I would be sure not to lose a slip-on  loafer.

I don’t think I heard what was said at the meeting.   At the end though, we were asked to join and were given membership cards and meeting schedules.

The dress hung in my closet, a constant reminder of the choice I made.  It would occasionally come out for church or a party, but I didn’t like wearing it  without the proper shoes –It would be some time before money became available for new ones.  And of course by then, I had outgrown the dress!

As I look back, I am overwhelmed by my mother and father’s love for their daughter and the sacrifices they made.  At the time in my life when I was learning to make choices, they allowed me to make a painful mistake.  For that I am ever grateful.  I’m glad my fairy god mother wasn’t there to bail me out.

Was there a time in your life when a choice you made backfired?

How I learned to shop

Once a year, usually for Easter my parents would take me to JC Penny (which meant an exciting day in Las Vegas) and fit me out with a new pair of shiny black (or white) patent leather shoes.  These were popular for a girl–and they have never really gone out of style!.

Going to Las Vegas was an exciting trip.  It was only about 25 miles from Boulder City, but it felt much further to a young girl.  We had no air conditioning, so depending on the weather it could be hot…… and we might stop along the way to pour water in the car’s radiator.

Once there, we would head for JC Penny and my brothers and I would be fitted out with new shoes.  Getting the best fit requited you to stand in front of an x-ray type machine and see the image of your feet inside your shoes.  Wow!  was that ever fun.  Of course these were determined unsafe in later years.  Anybody remember these machines?

Almost as much fun as shopping, was getting a package in the mail which contained not only shoes, but a new spring dress. The order would have been from Sears Roebuck.   The dress would be white or pastel, with a gathered skirt and puffed sleeves and rounded collar.  I can still imagine the smell of the new organdy.  Sometimes flocked with tiny polka dots it was called dimity. I had a hard time waiting till Easter morning to wear my new outfit. Of course these garments had to be washed and ironed carefully.  This new Easter outfit was worn on Sundays and special occasions and had to last till the next year when I would get a new one.