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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Last time, I blogged about this picture and the black shoes. Now I am going to tell you about the coat.

Back in the day, this was popularly known as a "cotton candy coat". Do you remember them? They were very lightweight spring coats, always jacket length and always with wide sleeves and wide cuffs. They were made of an obnoxiously fluffy material not unlike the fleece we know and love today, but without any of the warmth and cuddle quality of today's fleece fabrics. Instead, this was scratchy and had no insulating quality. Not warm enough for cool spring days, too hot for warm spring days, the kind of garment that could only be worn one or two days in alternating years depending on the whims of the weather patterns.

All the girls wanted one.

We used to get boxes of "hand me downs" from friends of our parents. The dress I'm wearing in the picture was another hand me down, possibly from these very same people. They had a grown up adult daughter with the fabulous name of Kippy! Probably her name was really Katherine but who wouldn't rather be called Kippy?

Kippy was tiny, probably not much taller than five feet or so and probably no bigger than a size 6 (the equivalent of today's 2 or even 0). That's why we girls were able to wear her adult clothes, the simpler styles anyway. Mom probably had to hem some of them but at least we had something to wear, even if it might not fit just right or be a season or two out of style.

Kippy must have belonged to a country club or been married to a doctor or some other circumstance which required her to have expensive and glamorous clothes. We suspected her of shopping at Jacobson's in Detroit - not the more globally oriented Hudson's and certainly NOT Federal's or any of those department stores!

How else would she be able to pass down to us pink satin formals cut just like Jackie Kennedy's, or those amazing and wonderful clear acrylic see-through high heels? When we saw those in the box it was every dress-up girl for herself. Can you say Cinderella? And they fit ME!!!!! For a few weeks, anyway, until I had to admit defeat.

But that pink cotton candy coat was the creme de la creme! The magnum opus! The Piece de resistance! Too small for my older sister, too girlish for my mom, it could only be meant for me, and for one glorious spring I got to wear it. So it was a season or two past its prime, who didn't keep a coat and wear it for another year? (Look closely at the picture and you'll see it was too big - but wait another year? Not when I had a genuine fashion item within my grasp! A lifetime of hand me downs and catholic school uniforms made me hungry for any fad or fashion and I was not going to let this one pass me by!

Sadly, the coat came to an unfortunate end. A classmate, who shall remain nameless, fell under the spell of the "popular girls". You probably already know I was not nor was I ever to be a "popular girl". Not then. Not ever.

Funny thing was, this girl and I were friends. We were in scouts together. I went over to her house after school. We played together on the playground at recess (schools still had recess in those days).

But for some reason, the popular girls decided to cause some mischief. Probably they made up some story about something I had said about her or some such thing. Who knows really, all I remember is that suddenly and without any apparent reason, she and I were no longer friends.

One day, open warfare erupted on the playground. I cannot tell you how it started because I have forgotten, if I ever knew. All I know is that suddenly the popular girls were yelling at her to "get her" (meaning me) and then she was chasing me around the playground and throwing an orange from her lunch at me. Of course, I ran.

Although she missed, orange juice found its mark on the fluffy non-washable coat. And then she caught me. She ground both halves of that cut orange deep into the fabric of the back of my coat. Without even looking I knew the coat was ruined. And there was no chance there would ever be another. Even had my mother been willing to buy one, they were out of date and no longer available for sale.

Like air escaping from an popped balloon, like a dream fading in the waking moments of morning, like a gull wheeling on the horizon - - - okay, let's reel it in a little - the point is, that was the end of that fabulous episode in my life. Ground into a sticky, pulpy mess of orange and acrylic fiber. Gone, never to be recovered.

This was just one in a series of childhood disappointments - like the favorite nightgown, outgrown and worn to a tatter, the toy elephant that disappeared mysteriously (probably right at the time my mother decided I was ready to outgrow it), and countless other disappointments, I would get over it. I did get over it. Until a picture from the past arrived in the mail to remind me.

Quotable Quotes; in the category I Guess I Don't Have Either . . .

"Fashions fade, style is eternal."

Yves Saint Laurent

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