Thursday, September 1, 2011

School Days and Fashion Notes



For weeks now, the stores have been full of Back to School displays and the big yellow buses are already rolling but when the calendar hits September 1, I am always overwhelmed with memories of the first day of a new school year -- a clean new notebook, a thick pack of blue-lined paper, shiny yellow pencils, an ink pen with those handy cartridges, a ruler, maybe a protractor, and some fat, pink erasers, all zipped snugly into the plastic pouch that fitted inside the three ring notebook.

And maybe a new dress and shoes to start the new school year -- my doting maternal grandparents, with only two grandchildren to spoil, often were the ones to take me shopping for school supplies and by the time I was in high school, those supplies had stretched to include not only a new dress but new lipstick and matching nail polish. ( I can hardly believe it but I can remember kinda lusting after a shade of nail polish called Persian Melon.)

Perfume too -- the names and even the scents come back to me -- Tweed, Wind Song, Jungle Gardenia (a misguided experiment during my senior year of high school that had John rolling down the car window in order to breathe.) And my favorite Maja -- a perfume from Spain, the purchase of which involved a trip to Ybor City -- Tampa's Latin Quarter.

All of these purchases were in pursuit of a new beginning -- new teachers, new classes, new clothes, new me . . . and the giddy expectation that this might be the year Something Wonderful happens.

Of course, soon the notebook was worn and dirty, the pencils chewed on, the erasers hardened and useless. The new outfit would turn out to be not quite what the really popular girls were wearing.

Oh, the conundrum of fashion! It was a password you had to get right. Do you wear your bobby socks rolled or folded down, folded over a foam rubber ring (for that oh so desirable fat sox look,) or do you wear them pulled up . . . or do you not wear socks at all?


It's a wonder I learned anything academic in high school. I was evidently busy studying the changing fashions of the Fifties. Lanz dresses and Capezios defined the so-called nice girls while tight black skirts and shirts with the collars turned up at the back was the uniform of girls who, it was whispered, were not nice, girls who dated the guys known as 'hoods.'

But, oh, the watershed day when one of the cheerleaders came to school, her full skirt hanging limp around her legs, un-poufed by the crinolines that had been de rigueur until that moment.
Heads turned, jaws dropped; it was shocking, it was unbelievable, it was . . . sexy.

By the end of the week, crinolines were a thing of the past -- gone to fashion's scrap bag to join the poodle skirt, the cinch belt, the sack dress . . .

This is a re-post from September '08 -- I think that Pat in TN was my only reader back then. I am the Girl Scout in the first picture and the other pictures are of my brother and 
me on two different Easters
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16 comments:

Pat in TN said...

Ooooh, I remember those days too and how exciting it was. Now the lists are a mile long and very precise in what the teachers/schools want.

Where are you in the big picture? I remember entire class pictures, and have many ... IMO that is better then the individual ones they do now. HA ... JMO!

Vicki Lane said...

Hey Pat -- I think you read an incomplete post -- I was in the middle of writing and hit the wrong button.

I'm the Girl Scout -- and the other pictures are my brother and I -- Easter 1956 and Easter 1960.

Pat in TN said...

You're right ... I didn't see the entire post, but WOW, what interesting stuff you've brought up, what memories have come flooding back, and oh yes, I remember how some fashion statements can change in the blink of an eye.

Pat in east TN said...

Ha, I got a BIG kick out of reading this post again Vicki, and an even bigger laugh over the comments section! I guess it was just you and me, but how times change!

Barbara Rogers said...

Oh my, do I remember the 50's in high school...I was in St. Louis, and the clothes were pretty much the same. Thanks for the first day of school memories...I was so full of adrenelin I probably didn't sleep the whole first week.

Missed the other pictures at the end of the post, can't get anything past the one of you(?) and a young man (brother?) and no girl scout ones. Please post on another day or title.
I have zillions of old photo albums, and no scanner. Something to think about getting.

NCmountainwoman said...

What memories this post brings. Remember the cardigans worn backwards and buttoned in the back? And the detached collars we wore with them? And the neck scarves that were popular for a short time?

Getting ready for the start of school was so exciting. I loved having school supplies and especially loved the new school shoes.

Vicki Lane said...

Oh yes, NCmountainwoman! Tres elegante, that look! I remember it well.

Anonymous said...

NC mountain woman, I had totally forgotten about the backwards cardigan! Thanks for the memory. I loved my fake collars---had a lace one and a leather one.

Vicki--did you get a better class picture than this one? It gives such an unfair advantage to being in the front row!

I loved the whole post so much! My favorite lipstick name was Cherries in the Snow, tho I never wore it, but stuck to Tangee Natural, which is now available on line for $14.95---yikes!

Deana the queena

Elora said...

Oh! Nostalgia, nostalgia! How you portray it all so accurately. It was ...always promising, but never quite delivered.

Thanks for the memories...!

Elora

R. Burnett Baker said...

I started school in '58. And I remember having to bring a cigar box to school to hold pens, pencils and other necessities. Bet that would bring on a couple of lawsuits in this day and age! How inappropriate, cigar boxes!! How and why are our minds so twisted these days?!?!?

Vicki Lane said...

Deana, I still remember what the ad for Cherries in the Snow looked like. Oh, the subtle promises that Revlon made -- this lipstick will change your life...

Rick, I too carried cigar boxes to school, Actually, I still have one that I use as a cash box when I'm doing an event somewhere and selling my own books... but it's a very classy looking cigar box.

Louise said...

Oh my goodness "hoods!" I haven't heard that word used to describe anyone in ages. I was always a "good" girl, but I will admit that the sight of a black leather jacket and slicked back hair could make my poor heart palpitate, just a bit.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Ahh the fifties and fashion -- remember them well -- good post -- barbara

jennyfreckles said...

Ah, you bring back memories. We used to roll our skirts over at the waist to make mini-skirts, and pull our jumpers down to hide the roll. (No amount of pulling jumpers down hides my roll these days!) And Tweed perfume... the first real scent I ever tried - from a machine in an airport that squirted scent when you put a coin in! (We were only meeting someone. It was years before I actually flew.)

tipper said...

I'm still experiencing the first day of school-through my 2 girls. This year-they were styling-in new cowboy boots bought by a Great Aunt. My girls walk to the beat of their own drum-something I didn't do till I was grown.

Mary Maupin said...

Hey Vicki--your writing is so so evocative--it makes me feel in my chest what the first day of school was like. I seem to remember Persian Melon--maybe that's what I had too. Re: crinolins: when I would come downstairs on a school morning, my father would invariably say, "go upstairs and take off 2 of your 3 petticoats". I don't think he knew they were called crinolins--he just didn't want me wearing so many of them. He drove me to school in the morning on his way to work. I always made him late because I didn't want to have to hang out in the hall before class, so I waited until the very last minute to get in the car. And, I also use a cigar box for collecting money (hopefully!) at art fairs. Mine's tin with green designs. I have to be carefull not to cut myself when I close it. I was a Girl Scout too and still have my badge sash!