Baby Boomer echoes

by Teresa R. Zaverl

Winter Wear<BR><BR>Anyone raised up here will never forget winter dressing or should I say, dressing for winter.<BR><BR>Boomer kids didn’t grow up with Mylar, Polar Fleece, Thinsulate or Gortex to keep out the cold.<BR><BR>Our cold weather duds came in cotton, heavy weight cotton, corduroy, wool, leather and rubber.<BR><BR>Everyone knows dressing in layers is most practical during the winter season and today that’s not so bad as the layers are lightweight and less bulky. But back then, layering meant lots of clothes, adding weight and bulk to even the slimmest of body frames.<BR><BR>Long underwear was the framework. They didn’t come in fancy colors or flowery designs. Nobody seemed to care about the style except two piecers were more convenient than the one-piece drop seater.<BR><BR>Long underwear became a second skin, something you would start wearing around deer hunting season, lasting often into May.<BR><BR>We thought nothing of Pa or Grandpa sitting at the dinner table decked out in stag pants with suspenders over his long underwear. That showed you most people living through the winters up here wore the long underwear everywhere - to work, to school, for play, in the house and yes, to bed.<BR><BR>If a Boomer kid was going to spend a long day of winter play, building clothes over the long johns got creative. Ma said wear layers. If you get sweaty start peeling some of the stuff away. Well that was all easier said than done because layers meant layers of whatever you owned and believe me, it was a fashion nightmare.<BR><BR>A kid might start with a flannel shirt or turtleneck over the long johns, tucked into a pair of corduroy pants. Cotton socks with wool ones over those completed the in-house look. But serious winter play meant more layering and digging through the drawers for whatever you could find. A sweater of some sort pulled over was a good choice, preferably a wool one or some hand knitted one. Again, I remind you these were not matching pieces; plaids and stripes together were OK.<BR><BR>Just about every kid owned a pair of snowpants - made to fit over the rest of your layers. Remember these snowpants were thick and poofy. Some were made of wool and quite itchy to the touch, some were of a fiber-filled slick material held up with a pair of suspenders.<BR><BR>By the time you got the snow pants on, you noticed bending over was getting a little taxing. You might have waddled out of your room, or if you inhabited an upstairs bedroom, slid down the steps or banister aided with all the padding or slippery pants.<BR><BR>Usually mom took a good look at you, making sure you were layered and tucked in. If not, you got the once over; Ma, pulling and tugging on the snow pants, making sure you got everything that’s supposed to be in there secure and tight. She might’ve adjusted your suspenders (tighter). By that time you felt like a sausage busting out of it’s casing.<BR><BR>Then somebody’d ask you the dumb question; “Do you have to go to the bathroom? You better go now before you get DRESSED.” What? Even if you didn’t have to, that question or command got you thinking you’d better, rather than be caught in that predicament outdoors. <BR><BR>That gave Ma another opportunity to really make sure you had all your layers on nice and tight before you got your rubber boots over your shoes and socks.<BR><BR>Thank God those boots came with zippers or metal latches, no lacing or tying at the time bending over was struggle enough.<BR><BR>Finally you’d put on that heavy cotton jacket with quilted lining and a hood. Ma made sure the zipper was way up, high to the point of the zipper pinching you on the neck. Wrap a scarf around your neck and nose, plop on a homemade knit cap or one of those with the little earflaps and you’re almost ready to be released into the kingdom of white piles and chilly air. <BR><BR>But not without the mitten struggle. Two pairs were the norm, and Ma or another sibling aided in pulling on that final pair - the one you’d toss off as soon as they got wet. (Unless you had idiot strings.)<BR><BR>The last instruction most of us heard on our way out was: “And remember to come home as soon as you’re wet. You’ll have to change again.”<BR><BR>And if you remember, who wanted to go through all that again.<BR><BR>It was easy to plead deaf, because you owned so many layers against your ears. <BR><BR>We played until the wet was beyond Ma’s wishes, fun for the day came to a quick halt and the only salvation was a hot bath and the wait knowing those clothes on the radiator or vent might dry by tomorrow.