Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Love and the Chambray Shirt

When I was a seventh grader at Tecumseh Jr. High in Lafayette, Indiana wayyyy back in the mid-1970's, I was at best a nerd.  Nowhere NEAR popular; I was bookish.  Ooooh, and I had glasses, too.  How gauche!  Oh, how I wanted to fit in with the "in" girls!  I adored them, especially their clothes.  They were stylish and beautiful and I just knew they had gotten them at Paul Harris at the Tippecanoe Mall.  Now, I had nice clothes and plenty of them, but nothing near this special (so I thought at the time).

That year, one of the big fashion trends was chambray button-up-the-front shirts with embroidered embellishments all over the place--the button placket, the yoke, the corner of a pocket, the points of the collars.  I admired them in the stores, but the prices were just simply out of my family's league, especially with three girls who all wanted them.

My very clever, resourceful mother was able to scare up, in her limited price range, three plain chambray shirts at Block's Department Store at the Mall.  Knowing that my Grandma (her mother) was an expert embroiderer, she showed the shirts to her and explained what she was looking for her to do.

In no time flat, Grandma had whipped up three amazingly beautiful embroidered shirts, one for each of us.  Mine, I remember, was a snowflake design that Grandma had stitched up.  All sizes and types of snowflakes danced upon my shirt in various places.  On all three shirts, she had stitched a longstitch-dot pattern in contrasting colors over ALL of the topstitching.  I remember mine was red with white.

I was so ungrateful back then; I remember not being happy with mine because it didn't have a floral motif.  But I wore it to school anyway, thinking all the time that I was still going to be disappointed and I was not going to fit in with the crowd because I didn't have a FLORAL embroidered shirt.

That all changed during one class period passing change in the hallway, when arguably the wealthiest girl in school (her father was Ryan White's first lawyer in his fight against the Western School Corporation to attend school even though he had AIDS) came up to me out of the blue and said, "Laurie, I absolutely love your shirt.  Where did you get it?"

Amazing how so few words can change your outlook on something!  After that, I was proud as a peacock to wear my shirt that my Grandma had made for me and my mother had thought to create.

The sad part of the story--I'm sure that shirt is long gone.  Mom is good at getting rid of stuff, so I'm sure it found its way to Goodwill after I had outgrown it.  What I wouldn't give to have that shirt back--the memories and the love that were sewn into it, with two pairs of amazing hands, are two of my proudest possessions.

No comments:

Post a Comment