Monday, October 15, 2007

Princess Smooky

You've read several of my tales about Sue and me, way back in the days of our carefree childhood. These stories were about the farm life, getting in and out of trouble. On the farm, our garb was usually restricted to shorts, t-shirt and "tennis" shoes. Unless we were picking blackberries, then it was long sleeve shirts and jeans.

When it came time to dress up, our Mother Eiko was a woman of great substance and style. She knew how to dress herself and Sue to the nines. The photo is Sue celebrating her fourth birthday and as you can see, she is quite immaculate. (She traded cowboy boots for patent leather.) I can picture our Mother standing in the background with a very proud smile.

When I visualize my sister, I have two images that immediately come to mind. First, Sue and I crouching behind an old timber, throwing dirt clods at our brother James. Hot and sweaty during the hottest part of dog days, covered with streaks of mud and wearing tattered shorts. Sis would laugh like a mad scientist when she would hit a crying James with a big clump of dirt. Wow, those were the good ol' days.

Second, Mom would take us to downtown Clarksburg on Saturday morning to shop for clothes. I always loved the hustle and bustle of a busy downtown. There was always a traffic cop at the busy intersection in front of the courthouse and the 5 and dime stores (Murphy's, McCrory's, W. T. Grant, et. al.). The police officer would have a whistle stuck in his mouth, standing in the middle of the intersection, directing traffic like a very animated maestro. I loved to hear the shrill sound of his whistle. He would stop cars in one direction, order them to go from the other side, all with a fluid grace and order. Very cool.

Once past this intersection, we would set course for "Clarise's", a very exclusive clothing store that catered to young girls. Sue and Mom were shopping for dresses and this was very serious business. The ladies at the shop knew my Mother and Sue, and were always pleased to see them. James and I would disappear in a corner while the two of them would gasp at the latest new dresses. My second image is of a young Ninnie Choo Choo, standing with a glowing Mom, big smile, in a frilly, prissy dress. Perfect fitting dress with co-ordinated shoes. When you have a tomboy sister, you have to tolerate these times, just so you have the required help when building a tree house.

We would leave Clarise's with shopping bags in tow and head for Murphy's (one of the five and dime stores), go to the middle of the store, take the steps downstairs and we would arrive in the bargain basement to buy clothes for James and I. We would usually get a size too big, that way we could grow into them. We never gave it a second thought. I had a new design for a tree house and the sooner we finished shopping, the sooner we could get started on the tree house. Unless, Sue and Mom were still playing dress up.

Sis really is a well rounded individual. Thanks to her diverse background, she knows how to throw a dirt clod or throw a formal party. Awesome.


Susan Carrier said...

Wow - this brings back memories, especially of the traffic cop in front of the Clarksburg Court House.

Yep, I've always been a "complex" person, equally at home twirling in a European dresses from Clarice's or throwing dirt clods in dirty dungarees.

And even though we were technically "poor," Mother was a regular customer of "Rosenberg’s Ladies Specialty & Furrier."

There was a surprisingly large Jewish population in Clarksburg and many were in the retail clothing business. You can read more about that at

Nathan Allen said...

Oh those good Ole days, from coming off the farm once a week to shop in downtown Clarksburg, WV are great memories. To stop in at Murphy's 5 & Dime and get a cold frosty Hires Root Beer was really great, and burst a balloon to see the price of a banana split, from a penny to 59 cents, those were the days. It was really great also to have great cousins like Susan and Piper Bob to visit there grandmother out on the farm..I remember those great days all so well, and when you called for there grandmother she would say Woo Hoo, that was her saying, what memories...

Lilli said...

Very evocative postings of small town America. Perhaps Piper Robert should be a writer too!

Mathews Family said...

This made me smile today.


Suzy keleher said...

Yes, Robert, you are a very talented writer. I see and feel the whole atmosphere! And I want more! I love remembering and thinking about and learning about how things used to be. My Mom and my Aunt Margie would take my brother and sister and me downtown Reseda, Ca. We would have so much fun and feel so special as we tried on clothes and shoes. Aunt Margie would always give us a piece of Chicklets gum and a scoop of ice cream from the drugstore. No, there were no farms near my house but there was a lot more space than there is now! And a lot less cars on the road! Please write more! Love, Suze