When you were little, you wanted to be just like your big brother. You wanted to ride in the fire truck, you wanted to ride on a bear toy with wheels (although to this day you still have ‘bear’ nightmares).
On your wedding day, at your reception in New York City, your southern grandmother stood up to announce, as everyone drank champagne out of saucers:
“I remember when she was little and I dropped by to visit, she was in her high-chair, wearing a cowgirl outfit with boots, kicking against the footboard, watching Woody Woodpecker.”
Not a particular memory that you would have chosen as a wedding day toast, but Grandma Vesta was priceless, and as you look back, you see that during the early years, you were clearly a tomboy. Until 6th grade when you discovered the world of Papagallo shoes (Italian leather, as soft as butter) You bought your first pair in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Another story, another time.
So back to tomboy years. After the cowgirl outfits and riding in the fire truck, you hung out in trees all day. Then Halloween came around. Best 50’s costume, back then, was a ‘hobo.’ Easy enough to do–get a neckerchief (do kids these days know what kerchiefs are?) and wad it into a bundle, tie it on the end of a stick found in your front yard, put on some black-out under the eyes, some torn pants and a shirt–done.
NOTE TO THE MILLENIUM GEN. We did not have jeans, back then. There were no jeans, at least in cities. There were perhaps jeans in the farms then, but don’t think so. NO JEANS–can you even imagine! Working without jeans? You do remember ‘work-pants,’ a blue khaki, or tan khaki that was special-bought at the ‘uniform store.’
So your first big costume purchase: thumbing through the catalogue at Sears. You found all kinds of pictures of boys and girls–but you fell in love with the ‘cheetah costume.’ A cheetah was perhaps the furthest thing you could be, from Sherwood Road in Charlotte, North Carolina, 1959. Plus your Mother of five saw it as doubling as pajamas–which it did. So a cheetah, it was. It had a soft hood, and basically, lots of black spots on yellow–nothing like the chic subtle prints today, but your first foray into animal prints, nonetheless.
When you put it on, you felt so magical, like you had a special power. Thus the magic of Halloween-what fun to go out and totally re-invent yourself for one night. The world is your oyster!