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The Day Before Yesterday: 35 – Dressed For Special Occasions

...I remember once the fashion changing from mid-calf to long and I had a nice brown coat. Military style it was called, as it buttoned up the front with double buttons. Mum got a piece of Astrakhan, curly brown lambskin. She lengthened my coat with this and made a small hat to match. I was the envy of my friends and the cost was next to nothing...

Gladys Schofield recalls the days when many clothes were home-made.

To read earlier chapters of Gladys’s story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/the_day_before_yesterday/

The time was drawing close to our holiday. Mum still made most of my dresses. She was very clever this way and knew what suited me. All outer clothes were always bought, but she could make some lovely coats and hats for my little sisters and trim them with scraps of fur.

I remember once the fashion changing from mid-calf to long and I had a nice brown coat. Military style it was called, as it buttoned up the front with double buttons. Mum got a piece of Astrakhan, curly brown lambskin. She lengthened my coat with this and made a small hat to match. I was the envy of my friends and the cost was next to nothing.

I had saved my three pounds and a little bit more as well and approached my mum for the other pound. I'd a feeling she thought this would be beyond me and was surprised that I had achieved my goal, she paid up in the end. My brother Harold had forgotten altogether and looked at me in astonishment when I asked for his share. "I don't remember offering, kid," he said, "but a bargain is a bargain." And he gave it to me.

We booked our bus tickets. That was ten shillings. One week at our boarding house was two pounds, six shillings and six pence. The rest was for spending.

Even at that time Blackpool was a very popular place to spend a holiday. The big wheel was there and the Winter Gardens where you could eat and dance and see the magic organ that seemed to rise right out of the floor. We planned not to go to the South Shore where most of the fun could be had until the last day and budget our money daily so we could have as many rides as possible at the fun fair on Friday. This worked out well and went more or less to plan.

When I think back, we did well for two sixteen-year-olds. Marion may have been a little older but was a very level headed girl.

I didn't expect much in the way of holiday wear, so it was a surprise when Mum came into the bedroom as I was packing and said, "I think you can use these", handing me a small pile of clothing, consisting of two pairs of summer pyjamas, a new blouse and a pair of the latest shorts.

These had just started to be worn by women that year and seemed very daring. They were fawn denim and had two pleats in the front and reached just above the knees. I still have a photo of the two of us strolling along the promenade. It seemed a great way to spend a week, and we made the most of it.

The big boss had promised we would get a treat every year he lived after the day trip to Blackpool and he kept his word - the year after anyway - as we had a Ball. This was in the same good taste as the trip, a lovely meal being set out for us with more cutlery than I had ever seen for one person.

I got a bought dress for this occasion. It was apple green reaching down to my ankles. Mum thought it needed trimming, so bought yards of pleated white ribbon and ran this around about nine inches from the hem. A frill of the same around the shoulder line and bodice turned it into a very pretty dress. I wore white shoes.

We got through dinner by watching and learning as we went on. Marion seemed well used to this sort of eating, so we followed her example. Most of the workers were the same, and we shared the tables with the ones we knew.

We had spent many a dinner time learning the different steps in dancing, to be sure of not being wall flowers. But when we saw the experts, we were only confident to dance with each other.

Cliff was here and Roy too, and most of the men hung around the free bar getting as much liquid into themselves as they could. Some preferred non-alcoholic drinks, as the younger boys did.

One man, a dark haired weaver who kept to himself a lot at work, seemed to find this evening not to his taste, as he came up to me while I was alone and said, "Why don't you come with me, Gladys? I know where we can have a better time than this." and was about to go out of the door.

"Sorry,” I said, "I am with my friends." and hastily joined them.

This man lived beyond his means a few years after this and must have been very troubled because he ended his life in the dam my little brother Ted had fallen in a few years earlier.

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