Monday, November 17, 2014

When Daddy Sewed

The year 1962 was memorable in many ways. The Mona Lisa was exhibited in the US for the first time. John Glenn was the first human to orbit the earth. Walmart opened for the first time. Johnny Carson became host of the Tonight Show. Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and Jodi Foster were among the celebrities who were born that year. It was also the year of Bob Dylan's debut album. Chubby Checker's rendition of “The Twist” had been number 1 on the rock and roll charts and was still very popular. Poodle skirts, bobby socks and black and white saddle shoes were still worn even though they were first popular in the fifties. I wanted one of those skirts, and what is memorable to me about that year is that my dad actually made one for me.


I was nine years old and in the fourth grade, unaware of most of the goings on in the world outside my little area. That was the year some people may have labeled me the teacher's pet. I had endeared myself to her by staying after school to help in any way I could. I was the child who wanted to please my teachers, and Mrs. Thomas was one of the nicest teachers I had ever had. Like most children who lived near the school I rode my bike almost every day, and sometimes my dog would follow me later, and I'd see him sitting outside waiting for me after school as I headed for my bike.

My mother was and still is an accomplished seamstress. She made all my clothes, but I was not very appreciative at the time. One time someone complimented me on my pretty dress. My answer to them was, “It's not a dress. It's a skirt and blouse made from one of Aunt Nell's old dresses.” I thought since my clothes were homemade they weren't as good as the store bought ones my friends wore. It made me feel a little inferior. I wanted to fit in and have clothes like every one else. To encourage me Daddy said, “Yours are better made than the ones they get at the store, because yours are custom made.”

In later years I was thankful for Mother's abilities, because she could make almost anything I described to her. She would even make her own paper patterns to get just what she needed. When I made my announcement that I wanted a poodle skirt, my Dad said, “I'll bet I could make you one!” I'm sure my mom was shocked because sewing was not something Daddy did. 

He was off to work every day and often told me he had to “go make a nickel,” which was his way of saying he had to make a living. He was Operations Manager of the National Biscuit Company, which is what Nabisco was formerly called. Often on his way home from work he would stop at a fabric shop that would have discounted fabrics. He'd come home with stacks of new material so my mother could make new clothes for us. He sure knew how to pick some pretty colors and designs, but we never dreamed that he would actually make something.

(Easter 1962)
I knew Daddy loved me. I was always “Daddy's little girl.” Even though I had two younger brothers and we were all loved, there is something special about the relationship between a little girl and her doting father. I had no doubt that he could make that skirt. After all, daddies can do anything, right? I'm sure my mom must have helped him gather the materials he needed. I do remember seeing him sitting at the sewing machine, and I'm sure I could hardly wait for it to be finished. 

Finally the day came for me to try it on, a beautiful skirt made from a medium blue print fabric with a white poodle appliqued on the front. It fit perfectly, and I loved it! When my aunt saw it she said, “If you can make that you can make me a dress.” So he did. As far as I know he had never sewn before and never did again. That skirt was very special to me, because Daddy had made it. Maybe he wanted to prove he could do it, but maybe he just wanted to do something special for his little girl.

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