I have no idea where Suspenders Girl will take me, but I trust her. And I like her, so I am willing to let her use my laptop to get her voice out there because I want to hear it.
I’m so glad I was a kid in the 70’s and a teen in the 80’s. That was the best time to be growing up! I guess some kids and teenagers think this is the best time, but, no. Anybody who feels that way needs to be enlightened. You missed out on some things if you don’t know who Mork from Ork was.
I was born in 1968. One thing I remember about the early 1970’s was hippies. The hippie movement might have been on the way out, but their style was alive and well. By then the term hippie seemed to me to describe hair and clothes more than attitudes and behaviors. I was too young to be an actual hippie, and I would never have been one anyway because the drugs and free love seemed weird and scary to me. I thought the clothes were great, though. I was excited when I got “hand me downs” from my older cousins. Only one of them was a real hippie, but they all wore bell bottoms with peace patches, shawls with fringes and other apparel that I dug.
(CLICK ON THE ARROW BELOW TO LISTEN)
I pull my hand me down bell bottom blue jeans on.
I also got “hand me downs” from my older brother, Jamie, and I thought those were great, too. I often dressed like him, and I had a “Dorothy Hamill” hairstyle, so people frequently thought I was a skinny boy with sissy hair.
Even Santa Claus at the Downtown Staunton Leggett called me “Sonny” while my dad, Jamie and I were Christmas shopping for my mom. That confused and concerned me, because I thought Santa was supposed to know every child on the planet and if he had mistaken me for a boy he might leave me the wrong presents on Christmas Eve. I told my dad my fear and he had a word with Santa Claus who promptly tried to cover his mistake by calling me “Honey” instead of “Sonny”. Of course, my dad backed Santa up.
I got the Betty Crocker Easy Bake Oven and Spin Art that I wanted, so it had a happy ending (as most of my stories do). Besides that incident, I never minded being mistaken for a boy. To me it was funny. One of my favorite pictures is of Jamie and me in the backyard holding badminton rackets and I have jeans, sneakers, and one of his Tuffskins t-shirts on. It’s blue and the front has a big cartoon cowboy with a Yosemite Sam type mustache. I could pass for Jamie’s kid brother.
Some people referred to me as a tomboy but I never considered myself that. I did wear boy clothes, climb trees, play ball and pretend to be Evel Knievel with Jamie and our friend, Mike, but I also liked Barbies and wearing certain girl clothes and my ballet tutu. I regularly experimented with wearing a combination of hippie, boy and girl clothes all at the same time. My mom let me wear whatever I wanted to at home and there are pictures of me with ridiculous outfits, always smiling, not a care in the world. Other people referred to me as weird. That might have been more accurate, but when you think about it, most people are weird in their own way. Anyhow, being weird and being with weird people is pretty freaking fun!
Mom made a few of my clothes, too, which I thought was terrific, especially when she made us matching outfits or something with giant polka dots. As I got older she stopped making matching outfits, then eventually she stopped making any of my clothes.
The best thing Mom ever made me (besides my black and white spotted Charlie dog, which I still have) was this red, white and blue crocheted vest. That vest was the best thing I had ever owned up to that point in my young life. I wore it proudly and whenever I could. Nobody else had a vest like that, and people constantly commented on it. Of course, some of the comments were not intended to be compliments but part of what makes childhood so wonderful is not understanding sarcasm or the mean-spirited intent behind it, and, in general, not understanding lots of what adults talk about. “Where did you get that vest?” or “I never saw a vest like that before!” or “Nice vest.” were always received by me with a sense of pride. Even if I had known people were being hurtful or snide, I wouldn’t have cared. I liked the fact that my vest was unique. It made me feel special. That was when I learned that I didn’t have to “fit in” to be happy and I didn’t care if other people “fit in” either.
My “nice vest”
I got my first pair of suspenders for my eleventh birthday. One of my all time favorite gifts even now. Mork from Ork rainbow suspenders with the pointing finger on one side and the moon and stars circle on the other. Since they were rainbow colored I figured they matched everything and I wore them with… everything. I was the only person in my entire school who had a pair. I loved that!
One day my class was walking into the crowded cafeteria for lunch at the same time R.W. – the patrolman from my school bus – was leaving with his class. I waved to him. He waved back and yelled “Enjoy your lunch, Suspenders Girl!”. From then on, until I graduated from high school, that was my nickname.
The late 1980’s brought bib overalls and college, but that is perhaps a different blog for a different time.
Anyway, many funny and a few scary things happened between the crocheted vest and the overalls. I try to live in the present and prepare for the future, but I like visiting my past, too, because I was blessed with a happy one. Remembering my past and being grateful for it is not the same as dwelling there. This blog is where I will remember.
You can join me if you want to.
My favorite 70’s song
P.S. On behalf of Suspenders Girl I want to apologize for any grammatical errors she might make. Being a girl, she is still learning the rules of writing and not overly concerned with those details (such as proper comma placement in a sentence with a quote or if her modifiers and participles dangle) so please excuse any mistakes she makes. Her main wish is to tell stories that you enjoy. Thank you for your understanding.