Posted tagged ‘church clothes’

“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.”

August 26, 2014

Today and the rest of the week will be summer warm. It is like a curse of sorts. Every day is cool until school starts then the heat comes. The temperature will hit the 80’s off-Cape.

Growing up I never noticed we didn’t have much money. To me we had what everyone else in the neighborhood seemed to have. I wore a uniform to school so I didn’t need a lot of dress clothes. I had one or two church dresses. That was more than enough. I had school shoes and play shoes. I always put my play clothes on as soon as I got home from school. I never needed prodding to get out of my uniform. We had one car, but that’s all we needed. My mother didn’t drive. We either walked everywhere or took the bus. I remember the trek to visit my aunt and uncle in East Boston. We walked up town, took the bus to Sullivan Square where we took the first of two subway trains. We had to switch lines at a station I don’t remember, but the second train brought us to Maverick Station in East Boston, and we walked just a bit to my aunt and uncle’s. My mother always told us to go to the next station if we got separated. She was hauling the four of us with her and had to watch my younger sisters so my brother and I had to keep our eyes on her. I remember kneeling, looking out the train window and watching everything whiz by us. I liked being underground and seeing all the pipes and hearing the squealing of the wheels at each turn. As the train lurched so did the people.

We lived in the project. It was all duplexes with front lawns, trees and backyards. Our house, as that’s how we thought of it, had three bedrooms, a living room and a smallish kitchen. We never felt in any way stigmatized by living in a project. Most of the adults were around my parents’ ages and there were tons of kids. We were never wanting for a playmate or someone to walk to school with or go see a movie. We lived there until the move to the cape. When I visit my sister who still lives in that town, I sometimes drive by our house. The trees and bushes are huge now, but it looks the same from the outside. Once when I drove by the house was empty but I didn’t get out to look. I should have. I’d have seen the living room through the picture window in front and the kitchen from the back steps. The cellar door was below a flight of stairs and I would have seen the sink for the washing machine from the door window.

We didn’t go away much or out to eat, but we never cared. We had woods and the swamp, the zoo, train tracks to walk, the dairy and a whole town to explore on our bikes. Life for us was rich.

“You can wear anything as long as you put a nice pair of shoes with it.”

August 26, 2013

Today I’m tired for no reason as I slept just fine. It may be the clouds and the coolness giving me a bit of a down day. My to do card has change litter, change bed, shower, do a wash and go to the dump. I’m thinking that list has something to do with my mood. Not one thing is fun. If I were a Disney character I could just sing The Happy Little Working Song and the spawns of Satan, the chipmunk who lives in my lawn, the mice probably still hiding in the cellar and the birds from the feeders could join in the cleaning. Then again I could just Whistle While I Work and even make it a happy tune. Somehow, though, none of that is appealing. I choose to wallow in my mood.

This is it: the final week before school starts. It was a mad dash for my mother to get us all ready. Mostly we needed new school shoes and whatever parts of the uniform we had out-grown over the summer. I usually got a new blouse or two, always white, and my brother generally needed new pants and new white shirts. The shoes were always sturdy, meant to be worn most of the school year. We didn’t have much money, but my mother never skimped on school shoes and clothes because we had to wear them every day. She always figured it was cheaper in the long run to buy more expensive clothes rather than constantly replacing them. The rule, of course, was to get out of our school clothes into our play clothes as soon as we got home.

I don’t remember when the categories disappeared and all of what I wore just became clothes. When I was little, we had school clothes, play clothes and church clothes. None of them were ever interchangeable. Most of my clothes were play clothes because I wore a uniform to school and a dress to church, usually an old Easter or Christmas dress. My Sunday shoes were also dressy, sometimes patent leather with a strap. My play shoes were usually sneakers or shoes which in a former life had been school shoes demoted because they were worn and scuffed with a sloping heel.

I really liked going to the shoe store, putting my feet in the x-ray machine to see the bones and having the shoe salesman check my size using the sliding silver sizer. I’d wander to look at the shoes on display, always only one shoe of a pair, and them pick out some to try on until I’d found the perfect pair: the pair my mother and I could agreed upon. She’d pay for them, but I always proudly carried the bag with the shoe box inside. They were my new shoes.