Clothing We Wore Growing Up

Saddle shoes are the first bit of clothing I remember fondly. Before that I wore horrible ‘Oxfords’. They were slippery soled tied shoes, usually in brown, and were part of the uniform for the Parochial School of the 1940’s. I was so happy when I went to the public school in the fourth grade and could wear ’my’ clothes (not a uniform) and my beloved saddle shoes.

They were rubber soled, brown and white ‘tie’ shoes. The brown part was over the instep and at the back, with white on the toes and on either sides of the heel. Of course, we children liked them a bit dirty – a sort of grey patina, where the white was – but parents, especially mothers, wanted them polished a bright white and a shiny brown. Maybe we got around to this chore once every two weeks.

My brother Bill had rigged up a metal gadget that was shaped like a shoe and hung form the wall. It was very handy for polishing shoes while still keeping your hands some-what clean.

Most of the time, my four brothers, who were seven to fourteen years older than I, were away at boarding school or in the service. As might be expected, I adored them and tried to emulate them as much as possible, even to wearing their cast-off sweaters, blue jeans, and Oxford shirts, which were always worn outside the jeans. This outfit was strictly for ‘play-time’ and not to be worn on excursions downtown to the Five and Dime store. My friends with our older brothers envied me my many brothers and begged me for shirts I didn’t want. What a way to make friends!

Yes, I did have a sister, too. She was five years older than I. She loved frilly, feminine clothes and was always in trouble. You can understand why I didn’t want to be anything like her. Luckily, by age ten I was taller than she and couldn’t wear her out-grown clothes!

Lois Learned
Southbury, CT © 2013

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