There are several milestones in a girl’s life, like leaving the little whiter-than-white frilly lacy fold-down socks behind and donning stockings. One spring, everybody in my 12-year-old Baptist Sunday School class – Dianna, Ginger, Elender, Pam, Jean, Jane, Joan, Susan, Linda, MaryLynn, Mary – fell all over themselves telling me that their mothers were letting them wear stockings on Easter Sunday.
“Are y’all telling me the truth?” I asked them through narrowed eyes. I’d known every one of them since the cradle.
“Yeah, really. Mama said I could wear stockings on Easter Sunday, and I didn’t even have to ask her,” they assured me, each in turn. Ginger added “Is your mama gonna’ let you wear hose or do you still have to wear those little girl socks?” and stuck her tongue out at me for good measure.
I relayed the information to Mother, and because she (a) heard it 15 times an hour for three weeks straight, (b) knew each of the other girls and mothers involved,
and (c) could not bear the thought of her daughter being ostracized she eventually said “Okay, Jeanne. Since you’re my favorite daughter, You can wear hose to Sunday School and church on Easter.”
We went to Alford’s (the groceries/furniture/toys/clothes/lawn mower/everything store in town) to buy my garter belt and stockings, then Mother
and I did a little bonding as she gave me a lesson in how to slide the little rubber plug into the hook to hold the top of the hose in place gave me a little pamphlet that told me in words and diagrams how to use the garter belt and she went outside to work in her flowers. Every morning, I opened that box with the shiny pink paper on top to eye the folded-up stockings, and every night before I went to bed, I took the lid off that box with the shiny pink paper on top and eyed those stockings.
Easter morning dawned crisp and sunny, and I sang all the favorite Easter hymns – Christ Arose!, He Lives!, Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade! – as I rolled those stockings down, pulled them over my toes, then unrolled them all the way up to my thighs and the waiting garter belt. I put on my white patent leather shoes, and as a bonus, Mother said since I was old enough to wear hose, I could put the strap behind the heel instead of wearing it over my arch. Two things ticked off of my Milestone Bucket List on the same day. Life was good.
Mother pulled that aircraft carrier sized Oldsmobile into a parking place, and since that was the year she taught the 14-year old girls Sunday School class, we walked into the Ingram house then into the Sunday School assembly together. I could feel all eyes on me as I
strutted strolled walked down the aisle to take my seat with my classmates . . . and this time all eyes really were on me.
On my legs and feet, to be more specific.
It all happened so fast.
Feeling a little giddy with the enormity of becoming a young woman right alongside my friends, I took my seat then bent down to look at their stockinged legs, and saw 22 feet, all wearing whiter-than-white frilly lacy fold-down socks. When my eyes made their way up to the faces of my
former friends, not a one of them was looking at me. Except Ginger who wanted to be sure I saw it when she stuck her tongue out at me.
My mother took it all in, too, and instead of taking her seat on the pew with her class, she turned herself right around and marched – yeah, I’d definitely call it a march – right back down to the Oldsmobile, backed out of the parking space, drove home, retrieved my whiter-than-white frilly lacy fold-down socks, drove back to the church, parked the Oldsmobile, knocked on my Sunday School class door, thrust the socks in my hand and told me by way of her body language, to go to the bathroom and make the change. Pronto. Faster than pronto. Quicker than faster than pronto. And she was not smiling. Not one little bit.
As it turned out, my friends weren’t ganging up on me (except for possibly Ginger), they were simply indulging in a strength-in-numbers positive-thinking-can-make-anything-happen campaign that went bad.
It was a long time before Mother rolled the stone away from the cave where she buried those stockings and let me put them on again. In fact, the next time a pair of hose touched my legs was the day I walked down the aisle to say “You betcha” to The Engineer.