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More Stories - The Way We Were
Pockets & Customs
When I was quite small my mother made me a beautiful snowsuit which she was tremendously proud of, and that she says that I was delighted with, too. I don't remember it - probably that protective barrier we put up against painful memories. One winter day when the temperature was high enough that the snow is wet and sticky, I was bundled up to the gills and let out to play. When I came in, my snowsuit was wet. Mother says she told me to just let it dry.
Apparently I thought I had the solution to get it dry faster. Since the house wasn't insulated, we had an auxiliary heater, one of those stinky old kerosene barrels with the vent holes in the top. That I remember! And although I don't remember the snowsuit, I do recall what a burned pattern of dots from the decorative top looks like. I placed the snowsuit on top the heater to dry it, with the expected results. My mother cried. I cried and apologized, while she tried to comfort me, still crying. I don't know which one of us felt worse!
Soon after, they bought me a dark gray speckled corduroy jacket with POCKETS! Zippered pockets with dangly pulls. Hidden pockets. Regular large pockets. Even an inside one. I loved that jacket! Just the sight of anything made of gray corduroy brings back a warm, happy feeling. I'm not sure in the end how happy Mother was with their choice, however, as I had to be frisked and relieved of toads, frogs, small snakes, baby mice, owl castings, small skeletons, greasy machine discards, muddy stones and other treasures every time I came into the house.
Years ago, of course, boys were clothed in little dresses until a certain age, and girls did not wear trousers, no matter how old they were. Fortunately, for the sake of both comfort and decency, I escaped that fate.
I used to especially enjoy this poem, Pockets, that my mother would read to me from my Great-Aunt Amelia's scrapbook, since it had my name in it.
S'pose you thought I was a girl
when I had on dresses,
But I never, never was. Wouldn't be for nothin, 'cause
'Fraid of dogs 'n' firecrackers,
jolly Fourth of July whackers!
Like to wear gold rings with lockets,
Yes -- an' curls.
Bess says she don't need one,
don't see why I do.
Where'd I keep my ginger-cakes!
Popcorn crisps that gran'ma makes!
Fishing-hooks an' bait, an' string,
marbles, jacks, an' ---everything!
Girls can have their rings an' lockets
made of gold.