Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Fashion Show #SOL16 Day 27

New clothes rarely found their way into my closet growing up. As the younger of two girls, I earned my sister's hand-me-dows. Sometimes a brown paper bag of high-end outfits were given to us. 

At Easter things changed. My earliest Easters brought new socks and underwear in my Easter basket. 

I remember my father arriving with the big yellow and green baskets, one for me and one for Gaylene. I cried when dad left without leaving the basket and my new socks and chocolate bunny. We were supposed to go to Webb City with him, but mom wasn't at home when he arrived to pick us up, so he took the baskets but not us.

After Gaylene and I moved from Picher, Oklahoma to Webb City, Missouri to live with dad and our stepmother Jean  permanently, we started going to church and getting Easter outfits. 

Several of those dresses I remember in great detail. One year grandma Cowen bought us pink dresses with matching short capes. We had Easter headpieces that looked like spring ear muffs! Gaylene had no front teeth and two black eyes she received from trying to walk home from school with her eyes closed. She didn't see the board sticking out as she traversed the lumber yard. 

In fourth grade I had a cream colored A-line with a green ribbon down the middle and small flowers dotting the dress. It had a high lace neck that now reminds me of pictures of Shakespeare. 

That year sticks in my mind because my new dress brought me great joy, and my  sister's hand-me-down outfit caused her great pain. Her "new" outfit came from the brown bag of old new clothes; my new dress came from the store. 
Me on the left in my new dress, and Gaylene on the right in the hand-me-down outfit.
My dress is actually off-white, but tinting added later makes it look yellow. 

By fourth grade the hierarchy had begun to change in significant ways for my sister and me. That year she had a fifth grade teacher who assigned each student a number. Gaylene was "Number 3." Nameless to her teacher and struggling academically, I didn't realize the symbolism of that old Easter dress until this moment. 

My sister and I walked into Wildwood Baptist Church wearing statement pieces that Easter Sunday. We sat in our regular pew ready for the Easter fashion show. 

*A big thank you to Stacey, Dana, Anna, Betsy, Beth, and Tara for running the SOL blogging challenge over at Two Writing Teachers. 


  1. Wow. This really made me reflect. And I felt a lot of personal pain and reflection. It leaves me with a feeling of melancholy. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you for writing into those memories because you took me back to closet disappointments -- the times I had nothing to wear that fit, or only the plaid unflattering hand me downs from my cousin Ruth Ann.
    And I remember sitting in church, where we only occasionally attended, watching the fashion show. Particularly the display of fancy women's hats.

  3. It's rather a sad reflection, and we often don't know how children feel when something special happens, but the "special" isn't shared, like on Easter. I'm sorry that you dad didn't understand to wait a while. I know my sister-in-law got lots of hand-me-downs from a near to age aunt, & she tells that she hated them. I don't remember much except often getting to choose a new hat for church. That's about it. My mother made all my clothes, so I guess I had a "dressy" dress, but don't remember. Thanks for sharing, Glenda.

    1. Oh, my dad did wait, probably for at least an hour. It's a detail I chose to omit. He didn't leave the baskets because my mom would sell our clothes to buy alcohol, and we were often running around in only our underwear. When I began this post I had a different direction in mind. I think people w/ happy childhoods and big families that spend lots of time together often don't really understand what holidays mean to kids w/ less. As you can see in the pic, my sister was stunning, and that was her "value." I felt ignored, but something has happened in my late 50s that's helping me see some things I wasn't aware of as a kid or even for much of my adult life.

  4. Such a sad reflection. My sister and I have lots of talks about our childhood. It helps so much to have her to talk with. I am thinking about your comment as I write this—there is so much that's hard for us to see in the experiences of others.

    1. If I weren't able to look at these childhood memories from a bit of a detached perspective, I'd never be able to share them publicly. It's almost as though I'm talking about someone else's life because I'm so far removed from my childhood--geographically, educationally, and in many other ways, too.

  5. I am catching up on slices, so I'm late to comments. Thank you for sharing such an honest slice. My mother's parents were alcoholics and parts of your piece remind me of slices from her childhood. You share hope with so many people, Glenda. And you remind me to keep my heart and mind lovingly open to others' experiences.