The other day I was driving home and playing a mixed tape that my daughter had made for me. Lo and behold a Dolly Parton song came on, “My Coat of Many Colours” Well as I am driving along listening I started to cry, thinking of my mum and my childhood.
I grew up like Dolly dirt poor. I was the youngest for a lot of years and hand me downs were very common. Donations of clothing from the church. One terrible day I had an experience of some one pointing out that my dress used to belong to her. My mum herded me away head held high as usual, she was a beautiful woman my mother and said to me you look better in it than she ever could.
I had to wear these things and my mum would make sure that every item that was given down or we had to wear was changed and made unique. We had broach’s and jeans had patches on the knees from older more worn jeans. Shirts were changed in colour if they could be allsorts done to them to make it new. Going uptown to buy new stuff was a wonder I LOVED it, maybe that’s why I am a bit of a shopaholic now?
But I still am poor and my kids wear each others hand me downs and I do the same thing, we tie dye, sew sequins or lace and frill. Anything to make things look different. We love second-hand shops not just for the cheapness but you can buy some really different things.
We give our hand me downs to the church and others we pass to other churches because I don’t want some child to feel shame about wearing a dress she saw someone else wear.
Oh and as for Dolly, well my mama used to sing that song to me when she was adjust the hand me downs. and when she finished stitching (she couldn’t use a sewing machine) she kissed each change. So my brother had jeans or shorts from my older sister she had hand me downs from the Emmo’s and it all went around. One of my most favourite things was a red jumper with reindeer’s on it. When I out grew it, it went to Jason. I watched and waited and I wanted to steal my jumper back. I thought I could just cut off the sleeves and turn it into a vest. Well it didn’t happen because the next winter it was Scotty wearing my jumper! the cheek of some people.
But I survived so did all of us poor people, black and white. I have memories, not always good of this but I do have some great memories of the love, sharing beds, eating bush tucker, homemade everything. Now that is considered trendy, upcycle.
Reduce Reuse and Recycle.