Last year, when my beautiful grand daughter number 3 visited…I was sitting on the lanai, cool drink in hand as she, her fiance and the Captain swam in the pool. I had just gotten out of the pool and something was casually said about my Father and the next thing I knew, beautiful grand daughter said….”I didn’t know that”….”tell me that story”….”no one ever told me that”, and so the story telling would begin.
I tell stories.
And today, I was thinking back to a very hot July day in that little town I grew up in. There was not a whole lot to do as the closest mall (if you could call it that) was 20-30 minutes away….and still is to this day.
And….remember that this was a time before all the social networking, texting on cell phones and Google. These were the good old days when you actually had to call your friends to plan something to do. AND the call was placed on your single home phone, which was certainly not a source of entertaining games. The dials were rotary. and my little town didn’t even get rotary phones for the rural areas until much much later. In fact, before my parents bought the restaurant, my Mother (and me) worked the switchboard in the telephone office. (another story for another time)
That particular summer, one of my gal pals and I were sitting on the back porch of her house, knocking the excess flour off our white buck shoes.
The attire of the day was the usual faded blue jeans… (pale baby blue denim) to you folks who think of “faded” as the dark faded jeans of today.
No, these blue jeans were a pretty shade of baby blue and even though they were called “faded”…they were not faded at all. They were dyed a very light blue that was not splotchy but color consistent. And they were soft. I actually think they were bleached white and then dyed that pretty shade of blue and they fit snugly.
I tried to look on the internet for an old vintage picture of the pale blue jeans and I never found anything that looked the same. Who knows? Maybe in that little dinky town…we were ahead of our time? ) not hardly!
We had the legs of these jeans rolled up neatly to just below our knees because that is the way we wore them. (See above pic in our regular dark denim blue jeans)
Our crisp, white cotton shirts were tucked in neatly. Our feet wore white bobby sox, coupled with the famous white buck shoes that had the awful habit of becoming scuffed and dirty, so in order to keep them white…we would dust them with all purpose flour from our mother’s kitchens. It became a ritual to “flour” your shoes just before going off to high school each day…. which had to be done outside, because our Moms frowned on the whole kitchen being dusted with flour! White bucks had an almost suede surface which couldn’t be polished. We had all determined that flour dusting was the way to go. Luckily we walked everywhere and to school. This gave our shoes time to rid themselves of the crime scene footprint of flour, so we wouldn’t be embarrassed in the classrooms or anywhere.
So, here we were. Dressed nicely. Shoes floured. And Bored with nothing to do. Our allowances were spent so we wouldn’t be able to hang out at the corner drug store drinking green rivers or cherry phosphates and eating Guy’s potato chips, which was one of our favorite pastimes.
All of a sudden, I had a great idea.
“lets go down to the river and take pictures with my new Brownie camera.”
My Mom had gotten me the camera because I kept begging her for one.
I mean all the other kids had cameras of their own and I knew my parents would never allow me to use the fancy, complicated camera my Dad brought back from Germany after the war.
So my mother got me a Brownie camera much like this one pictured below except mine had plastic knobs rather than metal….probably the closest thing to a point and shoot in those days. I probably didn’t deserve it, but she always seem to favor her oldest daughter. I will never forget that. Thanks Mom, for loving me first.
So off we went through the main street of town, took a left and walked to Sand Creek…in other words, the river.
We took the little dirt foot path down a slight incline to the edge of the water and to our surprise…there was an old row boat fastened to a tree branch at the water’s edge.
What a photographer’s dream!
We didn’t know who it belonged to….and we had to admit that we probably shouldn’t get into the boat for pictures… but we did it anyway.
I decided that I would be the first one photographed so I climbed into the boat and positioned myself on the middle seat so that I could prop one of my legs up on the front seat and lean back in a provocative pose. My rolled up jeans looked cute with my tanned leg looking even darker against my white bobby sox and white buck shoes. I know I looked “cool”.
My friend took several pictures of me and of course we couldn’t see the results because the film had to be taken to the drug store for processing.
Again, please remember this was before cell phone pictures although I do believe Polaroid pictures were around then….. but none of the people I ran around with had cameras like that.
So then it was her turn to pose in the boat and I got out and she got in and I took over the task of being the photographer… as she did many of the same poses I did…(I was a leader even back then) and I snapped away.
And just as she was about to get out of the boat….she actually had one foot on the bank of the creek and one still in the boat when we heard the booming voice at the top of the incline.
“Get out of my Boat” the gruff voice yelled. And in her haste to finish getting out of the boat, my friend slipped on the bank and her foot slid right into the creek.
“Oh Nooooo!” I yelled. “Look at your white Bucks”!!!
You see, I was more concerned about her ruining her white buck shoes in that dirty old river water than being in trouble with the gruff voice behind me.
I grabbed her hand and she sorta did the splits as one of her white bucks gave a slurpy sound as it slid off of her foot and sank into the muddy river bottom. Luckily the creek was only about a foot deep at the edge, but now her other foot was in the water as she became so unbalanced. Probably because I was tugging on her arm with one of my hands. I had the camera in the other hand and I couldn’t let go of my prized possession….and I was trying to keep my white bucks out and away from that murky water.
By this time the gruffy voiced man yanked my friend out of the water while muttering all sorts of obscenities and sort of tossed her onto the bank. She lay there all sprawled out with big dirty brown splotches of river water on her pretty baby blue jeans. One of her once white bobby sox’s was now hanging limply on her foot, half on and half off and it was an ugly, motley shade of brown.
“I need my shoe”, she half cried and I looked at the craggy face of the old man who was putting the tether rope back in his boat, and I said in the sweetest voice I could muster…
“can you see my friend’s shoe down there?”
The old man grimaced, muttered something under his breath and reached down in the water and brought up the mucky brown shoe, dripping with muddy river water.
As he handed me the dripping shoe, I smiled sweetly and thanked him, holding the shoe as far away from me as possible.
I think I did my best acting that day of the grateful heroine, saving my friend.
Although my friend cried, almost all the way home as she hobbled along the bumpy small town sidewalks, uprooted by tree roots, yes, she cried for her white bucks!
When we got to her house, we took the garden hose to try to wash off the dirty river water but it just made matters worse. Both her white buck shoes were ruined.
It didn’t really matter about the white bucks, because as with all things….the next school year we had turned to penny loafers….our white bucks growing dust bunnies in our closets.
Years later, when going through some old pictures in Mom’s picture box…I came across those pictures we took on the river that day. I tossed them back into the pile of pictures, perhaps dismissing them because of our silly school girl antics…. and I have never seen them since.
But I do think back to that day….on a hot July day with nothing to do but reminisce and tell stories to anyone who will listen to me.
Have a great and blessed day!
Kathy Sosbe says
I remember penny-loafers. I never had white bucks because I never wanted to clean them even though
I lived in a big city (NY). I had penny-loafers which were also in fashion. I did not have a creek
in which I could pose. I had the whole East River and I doubt anyone even thought of swimming in it. I come from the same era, just a bit before you and I remember those folded up legs on
the jeans. We would get on the subway and ride out to Orchard Beach in the Bronx and
put on our swim suits and look for boys. We never did find any! We all wore one-piece bathing
suits because that was the style then. But we enjoyed ourselves and got sunburned (ouch).
Did you ever have a Ballerina Skirt? I did and that was probably in the late 40s. Everyone had
to have one or they were not in fashion. Ballerina Skirts were long, down to mid-calf (that was
the style). I doubt anyone would wear one today!
We would go to the ice cream store for an Egg Cream and if you don’t know what it is you are
not from New York City. Some days we would go roller-skating on our blocks (city streets) or
in our local park. We did that one time and I was doing just fine and as we came by the
sandboxes (where little kids played), some smart kid dumped some sand out of the box. I
paid no attention to it and as I rolled over it, it stopped me dead in my tracks,and I landed on the ground and when I got up my right arm was killing me and I had trouble moving it with the
pain.I went home immediately and Mom took me to the doctor’s with me holding my arm the
entire time. It was a sprained (not broken) elbow but it was put into a cast until it was healed.
So those are some of my teen stories. We didn’t have much, but we had a good time back
in the day so long ago. Kathy Sosbe
thanks Kathy for your “back in the day” stories….the memories we have are priceless aren’t they? thanks for stopping by.