The way my mother dressed me


I spent a lot of my childhood in shorts. Even in the snow. Not that we went to the snow very often in fact this was my first experience of it at a place called Lake Mountain to the north-east of Melbourne. What was Mum thinking, letting me out in the snow in shorts, plastic gumboots and that hat, not that it was the worst hat I was ever forced to wear [and I’ll save that photo for another post].

Despite the shorts, I don’t remember being overly cold on too many occasions, although I think the winters were colder than they are today. We lived on an unmade road and the puddles were often frozen over on winter mornings and frosts, in my memories at least, seemed to be far more prevalent than they are today. I have wondered whether it is just a heat island affect in the metropolitan areas or whether it is in fact a pointer to global warming [but that too will be a post for another day].

It doesn’t snow in the Melbourne metropolitan area except on some rare occasions on the Dandenong Ranges to the east which is where I live. And even there it is mostly limited to the higher hills. I have seen it only once in the foothills where I have lived for the last 25 years.

I think it was around 1969 when I got my first pair of long trousers, a pair of brown woollen checked pants that kids these days wouldn’t be caught dead in. It was some time after that when I was able to purchase my first pair of jeans – Amco Heavyweights, which had the catch phrase “Every Amco tells a story”. Cool but not as cool as Lee or Levis. I also have a vague memory of Stirling jeans, which had a checkered flag label and a special unique comb pocket on the side of the leg.

The challenge with those jeans was to wear them as low as possible so that the pubes on one side and the bum crack on the other were peeping over the top of them. What were we thinking? Still that was only a passing phase as well because around 1973 we were at the other extreme where the jeans were skin tight and high waisted. I bought a pair of staggers around 1975 and made the mistake of listening to the salesgirl in the shop who told me to buy them a size too small because they would stretch. I couldn’t move and despite trying a dozen times they didn’t stretch so I ended up passing them onto my sister.

Of course in those days the jeans had to be wide and long to cover the platform shoes we were wearing. Then there were the paisley shirts and checked flairs which we thought looked pretty good as well. And who could forget the other footwear – treads and kiaks. The former appeared to be made out of old car tires with a woven swead upper, whilst kiaks were off white, extremely light sort of nylon and plastic.

In fact, when I do look back at these things, Mum didn’t really dress me too badly after all.

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