On Dressing for Winter

Shirley and her brothers, Marty and Ed, 1950’s Iowa farm.

As you can see, our parents took really good care of us modern mid-century kids! They made sure we were warm by tormenting us with these turn of the century winter outfits. We do look happy!

A few years later, we moved to town so that Dad could take a job with Farner and Bocken. He became a beloved beer salesman, serving the area’s needs, and giving his family a comfortable life. Here is a card that he sent out that first year in his job, 1961:

Now the family includes Karen! This card was found recently in 2019, in one of Dad’s customer’s drawers, in Denison. It’s signed Leny & Hamm’s.

Now that we lived in Carroll, the winter wear styling was pushed up a notch. No babushka scarf for Karen! She gets a really cute furry hat. It even looks like she was allowed to go without mittens and boots!

Karen, on South Main St., around 1965.

However, it took a few years for Mom and Dad to get that cool. For their oldest child, in 1961, I was forced to wear flannel or wool pants under my uniform, and heavy boots, for the 7 block walk to St. Lawrence School, when we lived at 1114 N. Main St.

“But, Mom!”, I still remember protesting. “I’ll be OK. The other girls wear tights and little shoes”. Whining did no good. I just had to bear it.

Years later, in Omaha, imagine my surprise as I saw the high schoolers wear pajama pants under their uniforms, willingly. They probably begged their mothers to let them do that, Ha!

When our oldest son was 6 and in first grade, I was responsible for his worst fashion day in winter. Mom and I found the most perfect tan trench coat, lined in fur (when I say fur, it always means imitation of course). She worked at Penney’s and received the employee discount, which made this on sale coat such a bargain! I could just see Bryan in it.

The problem was, he refused to wear it. There were tears. The ONE day he did wear it was when his dad was driving the car pool and authoritatively insisted, “Get in the car now, with that coat on and buttoned up!”. Sorry Bryan.

I found no pictures of this coat which was immediately donated away after causing so much unhappiness. It looked something like this:

What were we thinking?

Unfortunately, Bryan had one more (at least) episode of Mom choosing winter wear for him. This was when he was a senior in high school. It was a dark turquoise puffy (very puffy) ski style jacket and another Penney’s bargain, I’m sure. He rarely wore it, and purposely left it at home when he went to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

Bryan, senior in high school, wearing the coat!

The feisty winds on campus proved to be too cold between classes, (now that walking was the only way to get around), so that first weekend home, he found the puffy coat to bring back. Fashion was not as important as warmth.

Here’s a great coat for a little girl, and our daughter’s request at Christmas:

Leigh, 1989, with her beautiful white fur coat.

I was asked to sew a fur coat for our oldest granddaughter, Clara, by her very fashionable mother, Amy. Here’s how it turned out:

What a fun coat, sure to have kept Clara warm! 2005.

One of the coldest days I’ve ever been out in occurred on the eastern most part of Long Island, NY. We were on a road trip with friends, and wanted to get to Montauk to see the historic landmark lighthouse.

First, we stopped at the Parrish Art Museum (YAY!) near Southhampton to see the Fairfield Porter works. Then, it was off to a deli for pastrami sandwiches to eat at the lighthouse.

As we drove on and on, it seemed, the pastrami sandwiches were getting more and more enticing, until we just couldn’t wait any longer. We pulled off the road and enjoyed our lunch. Now, on to the lighthouse, which turned out to be right around the next bend! We laughed and laughed.

Shirley, Dan, and Liz, February, 1998. Photo by Tony Hooi, who was so cold he actually missed the tall part of the lighthouse, (behind this brick building), Ha! And, it was closed for the winter, so no chance to go inside and warm up.

The wind was intense. We were frozen just being in it for a few minutes; we could not have had a picnic here!

Our weather in Omaha turned very cold this last weekend, with minus degree windchills. Before that, it was mid -fifties and sunny. Last week, I breezily walked to a neighborhood coffee shop (Myrtle and Cypress) for a meet up with a friend who founded and runs a nonprofit (Whispering Roots-an aquaponics, STEM program for school kids, and other communities, raising fish and food). He was updating me on their work as we sipped our drinks served in vintage looking, soft green china cups (a juniper berry organic whole milk latte for me, and a cashew/date nondairy one for him).

I chose this coffeeshop for its location, and its innovating small business vibe. They made over a house, so you sit on couches and chairs. Also, I like their Instagram posts. The one that influenced me had the juniper latte photo, and a link to an article, entitled “The Norwegian Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter”, which was inspirational, I thought. In Norway, there are very few depressed people, affected with seasonal disorders. Apparently, it’s all about attitude.

Right now, they’re in the season, a few months long, when Norway’s sun doesn’t get above the horizon. So, they enjoy long views of sunrises and sunsets.

Norwegian residents have a saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Ha ha! To survive the harsh winters in the midwest, where I live, and around the world, you need good clothing choices.

Even our pets have very caring owners. On Sunday, I quickly photographed (from my balcony) one of my favorite dogs of Midtown Crossing at Turner Park on a walk with its owner.

Alice and her dog, Ellie, who’s always dressed appropriately.

Our winter is just beginning, so take very good care of yourself, and loved ones!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s