My Oklahoma City Grandma

My Oklahoma City Grandma could make buttonholes by hand that looked just like a Norman Norell buttonhole. Do you see how this buttonhole is made? You cannot find buttonholes made like this in today's ready-to-wear clothing.

Photograph of a bound buttonhole

How Grandma Dressed

Dressed in the latest fifties fashions and wearing costume jewelry just like Coco Chanel, Grandma was the epitome of a lady. She rode a bus across town every day to work in a large department store making alterations to the fine clothing sold there. She wore open bottom girdles with long garters from which she fastened her seamed stockings.

She was always fashionably dressed in fifties hats, gloves, catseye glasses, and perfectly coiffed hair. I thought her jewelry box was laden with genuine rubies, emeralds, and pearls. Sadly, they were not.

Seamstress Supreme

She made all of her window draperies along with matching cornice boards. I wish I had some of the smocked throw pillows she made to match her bedspreads. I loved the satin neck roll pillows she kept in her recliner.

The Christmas I was six, Grandma made a whole wardrobe for the twin boy and girl dolls she had brought me. Since it was an unusually snowy winter that year, I dressed and undressed those dolls for days.

Although she made most of my Easter dresses, I remember two outfits in particular. One was a lime green linen coat dress with covered buttons and bound buttonholes down the front. It looked store-bought. Another favorite was an A-line, white cotton dress with red polka-dots and a bolero jacket. Because I felt pretty in it, I wore it often and forever.

Visits to Grandma

Grandma let me play with the wooden thread spools she had been saving forever and let me rifle through the boxes of vintage patterns she kept beneath her beds. We often ran across stray sewing pins in the carpet of her bedroom/sewing room. She also saved her McCall's magazines for me to cut out the Betsy McCall paper dolls. She kept them waiting in the garage and never seemed to mind the piles of paper strewn throughout the house.

My fascination with Hollywood and 1950's movie stars was encouraged by Grandma's neighbor who let me read her Photoplay and Silver Screen Magazines. I always felt a little naughty reading about Ava Gardner's and Elizabeth Taylor's divorces and reported love affairs. Divorces were still frowned upon when I was a kid.

Since Grandma was no longer able to sew when I married, my satin and lace wedding dress was beautifully made by my aunt. Grandma would have loved to be in the midst of all the wedding preparations. What a trousseau she could have made me.

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