The 1950's: my life's foundation

The food of Life

I was 14 years old in 1954 and on Saturdays in our very small town we went to the movies for 25 cents.  I grew up in a home where money was very tight because my mother was sick all the time.  So my practical parents decided it was a frugal idea to always buy only grey, black or white clothes for the school year.  That way everything would match.  Even shoes and socks.

Unfortunately this was the era of bright pastel angora fuzzy sweaters and matching socks.  Along with plaid print pleated skirts in loud colors too.  I drooled with envy each new school year as I watched my girl friends parade their colors those first weeks of school.

I think that my grey/black/white clothing formed my personality too.  I felt and acted like those colors.  I was never loud.   Didn’t speak up; in fact refused to give an oral book report because of my fear of standing out and standing up in front of class.  My one rebellion in my teen years.

Back to that Saturday movie.  It was “Auntie Mame”  with Rosalind Russel.  The premise of the was this marvelously loud and zany rich woman in the early 1920’s.   She loses her money and becomes poor after the stock market crash, then marries a rich man and has money again.  Sounds trashy doesn’t it?  But the depth of the story is amazing.  Mame shows perseverance of character both being rich and poor.  And what a lavish sense of life and fun she had!

Mame was always changing her home’s decor and whirled through clothing style after outlandish clothing style with the ease of a stripper.

I sat there in the dark theatre transfixed by this til then unimaginable life style.  That it was even going on somewhere was mind-boggling to me.  Was it really possible to change and rearrange and decide to be one personality for a year and another style for maybe just a month?   That life was not all grey/black/white and ………….well staid and stale…………was amazing to me.

The greatest scene in the world of movies came when Auntie Mame stood at the top of her spiral staircase in a fur-lined bright red flowing gown, flung out her arms and shouted, “Life is a great big banquet and most poor suckers are starved!”

When I left home at 17 and went to work at Boeing at age 18 the first thing I bought with my first paycheck was a ankle length bright orange coat.  Then clever me dyed my high heels orange too.  Although in Seattle rain puddles all the orange came off…………I was determined to live like Auntie Mame.  I didn’t have to decide on ONE me and be that forever!

Freedom was understanding that life was a banquet and no real food  banquet served the same foods over and over and over again………else nobody would come eat.


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