When I was growing up, Easter weekend used to begin our spring vacation. Bright and early the following week we would begin our closet cleaning. After school, we would pull out all the winter clothes, brush them good, hang them on paper shrouded hangers and put them in the winter closet.
Naturally there would be a lot of throw aways. Clothes that were too small would be passed down to the person closest to your size. For a long time, I was the youngest sister, so my clothes would go to the family next door. The following year I would walk to school with the girl next door wearing my last year’s dresses.
I would have inherited a cousin’s clothes or someone else’s who lived nearby. We never seemed to mind the clothes exchange. More often than not there would be somebody’s dress I would be looking forward to wearing. And every Christmas there would be a pile of new clothes handed down the line from out-of-town cousins. The fact that they were not really new never mattered because they were all new to us.
We hardly had anything in those days that was actually brand new. It seemed that everything was handed down from someone else. The only time we bought anything new other than school supplies was at Christmas when we got to go to the five and dime store and do our Christmas shopping. We would each have one dollar to spend on the entire family. The most we would spend would be for our mother’s gift. Most of the time we would buy her a pretty handkerchief.
We had to change our ways when we moved to the city. At that time my sister and I began to wear each other’s clothes. She had a part time job then, and she could go to the thrift shop and buy us an outfit every month or so. Probably, I was in high school before I ever got to get a new dress.
I had started working by then. I was working at the candy store next to the movie theater, popping popcorn. Our movie theater didn’t have its own popcorn machine then, and so people had to shop next door.
My sister and I caught the bus and went downtown every week and bought ourselves something. It wouldn’t be much, but we felt that we had arrived. We had finally moved up from second-hand clothes. Boy, what a thrill!