Friday, July 19, 2013

Birthday Suit

We all have that one thing...that one gift from our childhood that will forever stick with us.  Almost always that one gift is the thing that you had already resigned yourself to not getting.  That's what makes it so great.  Yes, you wanted it. No, you couldn't stop thinking (and talking) about it.  But you never thought in a million years that you'd actually get it.  Maybe it was impossible to find.  Maybe it was too expensive.  It was so out of reach, it really never entered your mind how disappointed you were going to be if you didn't get it, because you knew it was just not happening.
That "thing" for me?  Was the dress I got for my 6th birthday.

I WISH I had a less faded photograph of this dress because it was truly spectacular and this just doesn't do it justice.  It had a floral print for the main material, the accent material (ruffles and sash) was pink with white polka dots.  It was ankle length and long-sleeved, yet in a light weight material that I was never hot in.  I adored this dress.
Back in 1975, my little home town had a Hudson's department store.  It was something along the lines of a Belk's or a Dillard's.  More upscale than your Sears or JC Penney's, but not quite a Macy's or a Saks 5th Ave.  We occasionally bought stuff there (my mother was the queen of the clearance rack) but only on sale.  The biggest draw the store had, though, was that you could pay your utility bills at their customer service desk. So, once a month, minimum, we went to Hudson's to do just that.  And that's where I saw this was first out around when the Easter dresses when the put out on display.  I fell hopelessly and totally in love with it.  It cost about $80.  In 1975.  For a girl's dress.  I never even ASKED if we could buy it...I would only ask if I could try it on again EVERY TIME we were in Hudson's.  My mom was always very patient...I'd try it on and go stand in front of the dressing room's three paneled mirror.  I'd twirl...I'd swish the skirts...and then I'd go take it off and hang it up. Carefully.

My family was by no means poor.  We always had everything we needed and many of the things we wanted.  But this dress?  I just ran the numbers in the .gov CPI calculator.  This dress would cost $347.22 today.  And I was (almost) six.  I wasn't even particularly girly.  There are many more pictures of me holding frogs or hanging out of a tree than there are of me in a dress (until I got this one).  Plus, you can imagine how fast I was growing at that age.  It just didn't make any sense at all.  But somehow, some way, my family could detect what a pull this dress had on me.  It's the only thing I got from my family that Granny (whom I described here), my aunts/uncles/cousins...they all just gave money and my Mom got me the dress.  I didn't detect what was up, either.  There were enough wrapped packages at the party from the other little kidlets.  And honestly, I didn't even reach for the box until close to the end because anyone could see that it was a clothes box...and again, IT WAS NEVER IN MY HEAD that this dress could be in that box.  And, oh, My Sweet Lord, when I opened it!!!!  You could have knocked me over with a feather!  I can't even type about it now without a smile on my face.  OF COURSE, I rushed to change into it IMMEDIATELY...and had to have it peeled off of my protesting little 6 year old self at the end of the day.  I wore this dress exclusively to every single function and/or event where it was even remotely appropriate.  And I wore it until I wore it OUT.  I can actually see in my mind's eye my wrist sticking out of the sleeve by at least three inches while my mother insisted that I'd outgrown it.  I was a very skinny child, so it never got too small around, but by the time I finally parted with this wondrous dress, it was more or less shin-length, no longer ankle-length.
I still can't believe someone spent that kind of money on me at that age for an article of clothing, but I must say, I certainly got my money's worth out of it.  As I approach my 44th birthday on Monday, this dress still remains the most awesome birthday gift EVER.

While going through some closets, I found these pictures:

The date on the back of these pictures was a year later...and as I said earlier, you can clearly see that I have a good couple or three inches of skinny wrist sticking out from the sleeves.  What a freaking fantastic dress.
Also?  I haven't a damn clue why my birthday cake is an Easter bunny since it occurs in JULY, except that Mom's hobby back in the day was cake decorating and she must have gotten a bunny shaped cake pan that she was dying to use.


  1. I love this story! When I was 5 my grandma made me an outfit that I absolutely loved. The material had numbers all over it, and in the smack middle of the shirt was a pocket with a big number "5" on it. While granny was sewing it she had me try it on a few times, each time telling me how she was making it for a "little girl that lived down the road". I was so jealous of that little girl, but when my birthday rolled around I was beyond elated that this trendy outfit was mine. I remember wearing it with my Mickey Mouse ears and watching Mickey Mouse club every afternoon. For some reason I figured I had to be the next Mouseketeer with that ensemble.

    Loved the story, and hope you have the best birthday ever!

    1. Ahh, Hudson's! I, too, was privy to frequenting that store for monthly bill paying with my mother and grandmother. I was so sad when it closed. My first dresses for my first "real job" came from there!
      I always love your stories. You have suck a knack for telling them! Happy, happy birthday!!

    2. Thanks, Kelli! You don't know how much I appreciate that.

  2. Kim, Imma going to need some photographic evidence of this glorious garment. Tell your mother to wrangle one up for you to share.

  3. What a great story, Marianne! It brought a smile to my face, thinking of the joy it brought to a sweet little girl! I, too, remember Hudson's, fondly! And Berman's! They were great, yet expensive, stores. I miss them. My very first "real dance" dress was bought at Berman Gayle's and was only 80-something bucks, which was much cheaper than most people were spending on dresses. They had a limited selection of formal gowns, way at the back of the store. Imagine my surprise to find that wonderfully perfect dress and I didn't even have to worry about my parents argueing over the price. I tried it on and it was a done deal! Ohhhh...I forgot all about Hudson's selling concert tickets, too!! It was just the most awesome store! I hate that these wonderful stores have all closed down (Kitchen's & the old Martin's Jr. Edition, too). Hope you have a very happy birthday and you get a great surprise gift this year, too!