GrandPapa's Letter part 14
Franklin B. Van Valkenburgh

Clothing

We were usually dressed in plain homemade garments. Trousers, which reached just below the knees, with a flap the full width of the body, buttoning at either side, all held up by the little shirt waists on to which they buttoned all around, it was no unusual thing to get the trousers on "Hind side before, " for the sides were very much alike, and as Mark Twain said of his, "they were made so one could never tell from the looks of them whether the wearer was going to school or coming home?" In Summer time we thought it great fun to go barefooted notwithstanding the fact that "stone bruises" were easily obtained and very uncomfortable to have.

Our summer hats were made of rye straw, braided and sown at home, indeed we boys used sometimes to braid the straw, which we had ourselves collected in the fields, for our own hats. The girls commonly wore calico gowns, and white pantalets, a modification of the trousers of their brothers, straight and awkward as any garment could possibly be. They were expected always to wear shoes at least; if not stockings, as being more modest; and had either poke sun bonnets, made of calico and stiffened with starch, these hats they made for themselves, and it was considered a smart trick to drop one of them by accident of course, into the water pail. It not only made the owner M A D, but it spoiled the water for school consumption nevertheless these eyes have seen it done.

In school the Girls sat on one side of the room, and the boys on the other as a common rule, but sometimes, as a punishment a boy or girl was compelled to sit in the wrong side of the room??? This I considered "capital punishment, " and was so little annoyed by it that it was decided not to be effectual In my case, and was discontinued.


back          contents           next