Friday, August 9, 2013

Confessions and Hoop Skirts

When I got to college, for the first time, I was exposed  to folks from all parts of the country. Well, that is if you are not counting all the kids from Florida that I went to summer camp with. They were just displaced Yankees, one generation back at most. But, I digress.

Of course during Freshman year the ratio of drinking to studying is skewed much more toward the former. (My freshman GPA will attest to that.) Often late into the evening, when conversations around the pitchers of beer got philosophical, those from up North would start ragging on us from the South. Now keep in mind, we were in Charleston at the time, and one would think they would have a certain reverence for our most recent unpleasantness, given they were in the Holy City. But, then again my Daddy always reminded me (seriously in jest) that anyone above the Mason Dixon line was  a heathen or suspect at best. 

Eventually at some point the question of hoop skirts would come up. "Do you have one?" "Have you ever had one?" "Does your Mother have one?" This is where it got interesting and I got their attention, because the answer was "No, Yes, and Yes." After a bunch of "You're kidding? Right?", I had to decide whether to leave it there and let their imaginations run wild or go ahead and tell the stories of my youth. 

Given, by this time, I had lost my inhibitions, I made sure my glass of beer was full and launched forth. 

First I had to tell about Daddy and his friends running around every weekend reenacting what was going to be the fall of the South during the Centennial of the War. And, since they were so dead set on getting the details correct, Mama was tasked with making his uniform. She had found the right grey wool, gold braiding for the collar and sleeves, red trim for the cuffs, and gold cording. I wasn't sure Simplicity or Butterick made patterns for uniforms, but she managed to produce an excellent reproduction of a Confederate uniform. 

Part of the re-enactments of the War involved the grand balls that were held when the troops were home celebrating occasions such as holidays and other memorable dates. And, Mama, made herself a ball gown. Now I am not talking about some sleek shimmery strapless kind one wears to Deb Balls or Cotillions today, but a fancy dress of blue satin with ruffles and lace to accompany Daddy in his full regalia. And, to make it complete she had a hoop skirt. Given my Mama was only 5' 2" at the time, seeing her in this dress with all the frills and lace over a two boned hoop skirt that must have been, at least, 4 feet in diameter, made quite the statement.

When I was 8 or 9 years old, one Halloween I wanted to be a Southern Belle. My Daddy laughed at me and said that was not an appropriate costume for Halloween. I begged so much, that Mama said she would make me a ball gown to wear for "Dress Up" later on, but not for Halloween. My costume that year was a witch and, try as I might, I could not convince my parents that witches wore hoop skirts. 

So later on Mama made me a pink ball gown with lace, not nearly as fancy as hers, but it thrilled me. And I had my very own hoop skirt. While walking around with a hoop skirt on makes your dress float as if were on air, no one told me that learning to sit in one was no easy task. (Carol Burnette had a great skit that showed the perils of sitting in a hoop skirt.) Bottom line, I think you will find Scarlett O'Hara standing, walking, or sitting on the ground more than sitting on a chair in GWTW. At the early age of 9, I could appreciate that. 

So yes, I didn't marry my cousin, I do wear shoes, I cannot claim kin to General Lee, I'll admit we lost the War, and I did own a hoop skirt once. Are you satisfied? 

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