Honor Thy Mother & Father, part 3
Autobiography by Florence Goodman Enzmann
Summer Sunday clothes were much more beautiful than winter clothes, for in summer we had beautiful hats, Tuscany straw, Milan, and one other of which I have temporarily forgotten the name. These hats usually had beautiful flowers, a veritable flower garden for trimmings; roses, forget-me-nots, and some bright red poppies worked into the wreath, for most of the trimming of young peoples’ hats were in the shape of wreaths, or else long streamers of black velvet hanging down the back. As to our clothes, we also had school clothes and play clothes, though they were not called play clothes, just “your other clothes.” When we came home from school, we would peel off the good school togs and get into our everyday clothes in which we were very comfortable and about which we did not need to worry. It seems that my aunt was a few decades ahead of her time, for she made panties that matched our cotton play clothes.
We had two cotton school dresses, and as I remember, it was quite enough, and we sort of loved our things and grew fond of them (or hated them) from first sight. Nevertheless, we wore them, like or dislike – I remember my aunt would go “downtown” periodically every year, three or four times, and usually patronize one store, Davit T Percy. She would come home loaded to the scuppers, and what she could not carry would be delivered that day or the next. The result of such a buying expedition was that every other fall, she would come home with some woolen material, hold it up to the light, show it to us (never any “do you like it, or not,” and putting her head on one side would say “that will make you a good warm dress for the winter.” As we got older, we began to dislike those “good warm dresses for the winter,” as we wanted more dresses more frequently. However, we did not get them and never said such a wish aloud. We, my twin and I, always dressed exactly alike, though we did not look at all alike. My older sisters, Margaret and Jane, dressed alike in style but always a different color of the same material so that each felt like an individual, not a copy of the other. I always wanted a pair of very high rubber boots, and remember once writing my father and asking for such things. These I did not get; why I do not know. My sister Jane had a pair I believe, which had to be cut off one day after she had staged and taken part in a “show.” It seems she put the overshoes on over her regular shoes, and they could not be taken off. We used to love new rubbers, for they were so shiny and looked so much like patent leather, which we did not have because “it cracks in cold weather,” which was quite true. I do remember that we did once have patent leather shoes of some sort, for I distinctly remember my aunt rubbing them with Vaseline, the yellow smelly kind so that the shoes would not crack. But crack, they did even so. What advances science has made.
We really loved Sundays; it was such a quiet, important sort of day. We were up as usual, all washed and scrubbed the night before in a wooden tub in the kitchen in winter or in the big barn in summer, and as long as my Grandmother was alive, our toys were put away Saturday. She spent a great deal of Sunday in the late afternoons and evenings reading us stories, the Bible, Little Miss Faith, and stories from Chatterbox and others. We, of course, had plenty of moral teaching stories from her. She did not think it right to make it necessary for other people to work on Sunday. That is, she did not think it right to use street cars, which we had just a short time before she passed away. Nor did she think it right to harness a horse on Sunday. She was a very righteous Scotch Presbyterian woman. I have often heard her say she was “High Church;” sometimes I wonder whether I am right in assuming she was Presbyterian, for maybe she was Episcopalian. I remember a song she used to sing which had these lines in it: “Where congregations ne’re break up, And Sabbaths have no end…” It seemed sort of doleful to me to think that one must forever and forever sit in church, and Sundays never end. Though we enjoyed them, we were always glad when Monday came, and we could whoop it up and play again, even though we wore our everyday clothes. As I look back and think of all the good times we had without spending any money, it seems to me that we surely had an advantage over the city children of today.
School became routine at six years old, and we then had to conform to other people’s orders. We did not seem to have any trouble, though my twin was a much better student and more serious, and better behaved than I. Of course, everybody knew everybody else and their family background, meaning that the teachers knew all about you before you arrived. The first year was not very pleasant for me outside of the classroom. Recess was taken simultaneously by all four grades, which meant that the older ones could do just about what they pleased with the younger ones. I do not remember that our recess was supervised by any teacher out of doors. There was a girl whose name I don’t remember who was in one of the upper classes, and she and her friend would amuse and enjoy themselves at my expense very many times a week by hitting me on the legs with a switch. I did not dare to say anything about it, either at home or at school. However, this was sort of made up for in a way by a classmate, Bessie, and also her sister Rachael, who was in a lower grade. These two girls had lovely dark eyes and very long black, or nearly black, hair, which they wore plaited in two long thick braids. And what was the most glorious and breathtaking of all, they had braided into the hair bits of wool, mostly always red! I was always enthralled with the coloring and the wool braided into their hair. Another thing, they would always tell when a new baby was expected, and when it arrived, and one time the horrible and sordid details of a breast abscess their mother had! They were good girls and clean of mind, just of different upbringing. I considered myself very, very fortunate and favored when I was asked to one of their birthday parties and allowed to go. The house was spotless, and their mother seemed very fine to me, and we were allowed to go upstairs and into every room in the house – there were six. At our house, we did not go into other people’s rooms, and certain parts of the house were not for playing. The most impressive event of this visit was a book they showed me, a little oblong book with olive wood back and front, and in it were pictures of Jerusalem!! Also, the book came from Jerusalem. To think that anyone could own such an important book right from Jerusalem, where Jesus lived! I do not think I ever went to their house again. I imagine my curiosity was satisfied. I had found that they were people who lived a normal existence, though what I had expected, I do not know. Also, as we became older, one of the girls became too possessive, and that I did not like, so the intimacy and the adoration slowly shifted to other sands.
Read Part 4