Tuesday, March 20, 2007

JC Penney Catalog Model

It was created from navy blue and white polka dot polyester: a two-piece ensemble that was my most favorite outfit ever! Mom had expertly sewn the button-up top with long ties at the shortened waist, the kind of ties Catherine Bach later made so famous as Daisy Duke. Do I need to explain that we lived in a small Midwest town in 1976? The matching blue-with-white-polka-dot pants were generously proportioned and featured a wide flare at the ankle. I anxiously awaited the laborious process of creating my only new outfit for spring. There was buying fabric, laying out pattern pieces, pinning, cutting, more pinning, sewing, and hemming, that must have taken a mother of six at least a week.

The sun warmed my skin through the navy blue polyester the morning I originally wore that outfit to Mrs. Ruth’s first-grade class. I felt as fashionable as a JC Penney catalog model! I held my head high as I strode into the classroom, and later to the lunchroom, and the music room, accepting numerous compliments along the way.

It was the ill-fated afternoon recess when things took a devastating turn. Deeply involved in a heated game of girls-catch-the-boys I made a sudden turn and lunged in an unsuccessful attempt to tag Bobby Rasmussen. Next, my face was staring at the concrete, and sharp searing pain soared through my right knee. I gingerly rolled over, trying to hold back tears that were already forming in my warm, brown eyes. Then, terror struck as I looked at my aching leg. Panic set in when I saw my knee bloody and ravaged, because I saw my knee through a large gaping hole in my brand new polyester pants! The newly formed tears were poised for the boisterous crying that soon poured from my soul. I immediately knew my coveted, beautiful outfit was no more. The playground teacher and my best friend helped me hobble to the nurse’s office. Unbeknownst to them, my wailing was not for my ravished knee, but for my huge fashion loss. I felt nothing could have been a crueler fate.

A few hours later, walking home from school, I was as glum as a sunflower in the rain. I opened the front door and began to weep all over again for my pants, my ruined life, and my knee (in that order). My petite shoulders heaved up and down as I sobbed on Mother’s lap. She tried to console me, but we both knew there was no money to buy more fabric to make another pair of pants.

However, I was young, and in a few days I had rebounded from my regrettable situation. I was content in my usual hand-me-down and thrift store clothing, that was always pressed, clean and nice.

Then came the morning I never expected. I was getting dressed for school and Mom walked in my Holly Hobbie decorated bedroom holding the navy blue-with-white-polka-dot outfit. My heart sank, once again remembering that I’d never wear that darling duo again. But with a knowing smile on her face, she held up the pants by the waistband and the remaining fabric fell in place quickly to reveal the new, shortened version: Gauchos!

I was the first girl in my class to come to school wearing the latest fashion craze of gauchos. I held my head even higher, because now we were talking ultra-high JC Penney catalog fashion!


  1. Debbie, You should have been a writer! I think that is your calling in life. However do you find the time!

  2. I agree with janna.

    jus' sayin. :)

  3. I'm sending each of you a complimentary JC Penney Spring Catalog for your sweet praise. You should be seeing it in the mail within the next 4-6 weeks.

  4. I hope you're saving these entries on your computer somewhere (just in case the miracle of free Blogger disappears). Your kids will love them when their older.

    Thanks for sharing your life with us. Keep it up, you're getting a following :)

  5. Your nephew has a similar story... I had bought S2 a new suit for Easter. Sunday he really wanted to wear it to church. He put it on and looked smashing!! He knew it too and we were too late for me to fight about it beyond my comment of "please change and save that nice for Easter". He was determined and I was tired so the suit stayed on for church. Unfortunatly, as I was visiting after church he was running from a cute little girl that was chasing him when down he went. And there it was a hole in the knee of his new polyester suit. He too found himself engulfed in tears. Upon arriving home from church he went right to his room laid on his bed and sobbed. I overheard him from outside his room quietly crying "I never do anything right" "why do I always mess things up"... my irritance towards the ruining of a new suit softened so I walked in to comfort him - only to be struck with deep sandess to see he was not 'talking to himself' but instead to a picture of his father (who passed away two years ago)! I thought i would lay down and cry with him.

    The pants will wait until Grandma can come and fix them - just like she fixed your pants... although I don't think gauchos are in for boys!! When are you coming Grandma? Or should I just mail them? (He noted he needs his teddy bear sewn also... the pile is growing!!!)

    Youngest sister Kim

  6. Dear Anonymous AKA Youngest Sister Kim,
    I know Grandma will find some way to fix this. Though her solutions nowadays include determining the following: color, brand, size, original store of purchase and then executing with a Visa card.

  7. Mompreneur,
    Do you think the kids will enjoy these stories someday? I guess it is something to hope for. If I told S1 this story today, he'd roll his eyes two sentences into it and say, "Is this like how you had to walk to school in the snow when there was a below freezing wind chill and how you always had to work in the garden all summer?"
    "Yes! That is exacly what this is. I got frostbite on my toes in the winter and massive sunburns and mosquito bites in the summer. And it was the best childhood ever! I feel so sorry for you playing World of Warcraft all winter and going to the waterpark all summer. You've had a rotten childhood, I know. "


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