It is always difficult to write stories of our childhoods, when the childhoods are so far removed from the adulthoods. But, some memories stand out in the minds eye, fresh as they were then. One particular memory, for me, is of Bynum, Alabama, March 16 or 17 (somewhere in there), 1953. I am sure of the date, because my only brother was born the night of March 15, 1953, just after midnight.
The week before my brothers birth, my friends and I were due to be in a program (I believe it was a Brownie Program) at the Theatre Building at Bynum. Now, Bynum was a military compound established just before the WWII and most of the fathers who lived there were employed at the Depot, as it was called. Not many of the mothers worked. This was way before the two-income family became a necessity.
We were a very tight-knit community, all of the children going to one school the first six years. Oh, we had magnificent teachers. I, for one, loved school, coloring, drawing, jump roping and speech (of course). Managed to get in a little academic work while I was playing, too. Most of the children in my class had begun school together in 1950, in a makeshift class in the library, and became fast friends almost immediately. The school, at that time, was constructing a class for the first grade. By the third grade we were at the Big House, Bynum Elementary. In 1953, four of the little girls, Martha, Gail, Judy and Sheila (I am Sheila) were friends from the bottoms of our hearts. We were Brownies together, school mates, play mates, skate and bicycle mates, and some of us went to church twice on Sundays and sometimes nights during the week, too. We were inseparable and our biggest talent was talking. Some of the boys who began school with us were our fast friends, too, Gary Canant, Robert Chambliss, Larry Gulledge, but they would not jump rope with us. They played war and ball, for some silly reason. This is just a little background for my story.
In 1953, if you needed a dress, your mother made it. Most of the mothers loved the fabric stores in Anniston, Kitchens and Dobsons. My mother particularly loved the remnant bins and she and my grandmother could get a dress for me out of a yard of material because I was so tiny. My mother was an excellent seamstress, making all her clothes and my clothes. My homemade clothes were a necessity because I was so very tiny and could not find clothes in my size that didn't have the Seven Dwarfs pictures on them, complete with bibs. Easter was always a fashion show for the blessed girls whose mothers sewed. We did not know how fortunate we were.
Now, we four young girls were excited about this program coming up. We were going to be ON STAGE, in the limelight, imagine that, and we may have practiced a song to sing, I cannot remember that detail. I believe that Gails mother made her dress but am unsure about Martha and Judy. Theirs were probably home designer originals, too. These dresses were our first long dresses, formals. We were more excited about these dresses than the program, I believe. At least I was. My problem arose because my mother was due to deliver my brother ANY MINUTE and the chance for getting the dress finished were iffy at best. My mother cut out the wedgewood blue polished cotton and started sewing. She actually did get it finished about 8 hours before my brother was born, at 12:10 a.m. March 15. She said it was an easy pattern.
Now, here we are, the night of the program. My mother is in the hospital with my new, skinny, red, ugly baby brother and I am home with my dad, getting ready to go to the program. I felt like Cinderella going to the ball. It was nice enough weather and we met up with my three friends for a picture before the program. There we were, in all our splendor. If Mr. DeMille had been there, we were ready for him. It has been so many years (let me get my calculator) 56 years, but that night we were stars. We will still be stars that night if we live to be 150. Three of us are still on this earth and we are making plans to meet for lunch when Gail comes in from Texas, and I know for sure that we will still feel beautiful inside, like Cinderella going to the ball again.