“Hand me downs” were a vital part of every kid’s wardrobe during The Great Depression. Though Annie and John were several years older, I wore their hand me downs, though they had probably passed through other children before they got back to me. Kids only had to look at an older sibling to see what was in their wardrobe future. With any luck, a kid got an occasional new item was scrapped up now and then if there was a program at school, or Mama had managed to save up matching feed sacks around Christmas or a birthday. Whenever someone “handed down” items that didn’t fit, Mama ripped them up and remade them for one of us, often turning the faded side in. I expected to wear family hand-me-downs. That was just life, but was outraged when the preacher’s wife passed some of her daughter’s clothes to me. I didn’t want her old castoffs. I was proud and considered it charity, thinking she’d look down on me. My proud attitude did not matter. I wore them anyway.
The Elam family lived nearby, excellent neighbors, though not too long descended to Cuthand Creek from the Ozarks. They were good folks, but still didn’t quite make the cut with the local sophisticates, sometimes sufferring some embarrassment. Their teenage daughters, Medrith and Meredith Elam, fetching young ladies, didn’t share my aversion to hand-me-downs, showing up in evening wear of a style never before seen in the Cuthand Methodist Church one Sunday. I breathlessly followed their progress as they took their places in the choir wearing eye-popping dresses that that clearly seen earlier incarnations as evening attire, low-backed, form-fitting, peek-a-boo confections of silk, sateen, and sheer lace. Completed by long, over-the-elbow gloves, gaudy costume jewelry, and feathered hats, all they lacked was rhinestone-studded cigarette holders to complete the picture of 1930’s movie star glamor. Some old busy-body must have made a snide comment since they never dressed so stylishly again, a great disappointment to me.