Headin’ for the Last Roundup
The fashion industry is one of the biggest in the United States. In the way of fibers and textiles, believe it or not, the fashion industry has some true relation to, dare I say it, the agriculture industry. The fashion industry provides jobs for some 4.7 million persons. If you count those who spin, weave, dye, grow cotton or wool or work in the petroleum-based textile firms, to say nothing of transportation and retail.
I’m glad to report all this, because I have always appreciated fashion.
I recall when I was a young man, back when Cave Springs was a thriving northwest Greene County village with a blacksmith shop, a general store and a privy for every household. It was quite an event when Troy Teague cranked up his flivver and drove into Springfield for a load of merchandise. There was always the latest in the dry goods line, and box after box of ready-to-wear for the menfolks. While the womenfolk oohed and ahead over the bolts of cloth, I always took a close look at the latest selection of Big Smith overalls.
Would it be solid blue denim this spring? Or would pinstripes be in? Often it was difficult to decide, but there was never any indecision when it came to sheepskin coats in the fall. Just a size 42, so there would be room underneath for a blue denim jumper if it really got cold, and I was well-satisfied.
As for footwear, there were scads of choices: lace boots, slippers (not very practical around a cow yard, really) and the ever-popular Wolverine brogans.
The latter I always selected, taking care to buy them large enough for an extra pair of socks in cold weather, plus I always bought a can of neatsfoot oil to preserve the leather. I shall always remember the warm, special fragrance of a Sunday morning in church, as we menfolk toasted our feet by the wood-burning stove as we listened to the preacher rant and rave.
Rubber boots were also quite popular with some of the young dandies, but I was never really big on rubber boots. You’ve seen one rubber boot, you’ve seen them all, I always said.
There was a time in my life when I lost interest in fashion for reasons which escape me now. In recent years the new styles have alternately turned me off and turned me on.
This past winter, however, circumstances caused me to become quite aware of fashion again. It was very cold, as you remember, and in keeping with the conservation of energy, Helen and I slept in a cold bedroom.
This is quite healthful and very conducive to a close family relationship.
However, Helen is addicted to brass beds, and it so happens that my sleeping habits cause me to out-fling my left arm as I sleep, and, consequently, it comes in contact with the frigid brass rods at the head of the bed. This, of course, awakens me for quite some time.
I soon solved the problem, however.
I am very big on black, soft-knit socks. It occurred to me that one sock would make a nice, warm mitten for my left hand. I am very careful not to get one I have worn that day, for often I unconsciously scratch my nose in my sleep. Nor do I want to get one with a hole in it.
You see, I am getting older and… well, if anything should happen to me in the night I would not want them to find me the next morning with a holey sock on my left hand.
I must confess that being sensitive about fashion has made it difficult to dress properly over the years, for in spite of my respect for those who design clothing, I have not always felt their designs were best for me.
For instance, I once had a friend who operated a haberdashery, and once he asked me if I would buy a bunch of neckties for $2 each. I looked at them and noticed they were monogramed with a “C.M.” This puzzled me for awhile, because his initials were “A.R.” Then it dawned upon me, we had a mutual friend, Chuck Mason, die, and he had obviously willed the ties to “A.R.”
I bought them, but they were too wide, and I could not wear them until my sister-in-law cut them down to a maximum of two inches. The C.M. did not bother me, for I just tied them long and tucked the monogram under my belt.
The same man had some suits and slacks and sports coats, too. He told me between clinched teeth that he just hated the flared slacks and wide-lapel coats, but he was forced to wear them because he dared not look out of style, and would I buy them.
Well, I was happy to oblige, and those clothes did me very well for several years.
And then there was the time I walked into a store to see if the fashions were getting more to my liking. I noticed the salespeople were giving me the up and down. I did not wish them to think I was superior or anything, so I struck up a conversation. “You know,” I said, “I’m just an old country boy, myself.”
One of them was quite perceptive. “Well,” he said, admiringly, “anybody could tell that.”