Little Annie B grew up feeling more like Pippy, aka Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking!
Annie B has dark brown hair that touches her shoulders and is always a mess. Her clothes never match, her socks never go to her knee, and her shoes are ugly.
Her face is cute, but she doesn’t know it. Annie B can run, ride a bike, climb a tree, and hang upside down in a tree. And, if necessary, defend herself by beating up boys.
But she can’t play basketball.
Annie B lacks self-confidence and goes to a school with other children who are far more fortunate. It seems like everyone belongs to a country club, and Annie B lives on a street that some refer to as Tobacco Road.
Annie B feels like there is something wrong, but she is not quite sure what it is. Until the day she puts on the Black Velvet Dress.
It was a shivering cold winter day. So cold that the school Principal, Mr. Lloyd, said the children could not go outside to play at lunchtime.
Over the PA system, Mr. Lloyd said, “Everyone to the gym today; we will have a basketball game during lunchtime.”
Annie B wandered around by herself, watching the other children play, and watched the girls chase boys and the boys chasing the girls. No one chased Annie B., and Annie B could not figure out why all the chasing?
Annie B was always ready for was gym class.
So, on this cold winter day, Isabel, a sweet classmate who loved to play basketball, came to Annie B and said, “I will let you wear my Black Velvet Dress if you let me wear your gym clothes” Annie B had never seen such a beautiful Black Velvet Dress, with a white satin collar and cuffs. Annie B told Isabel, yes. For the next 45 minutes, Annie B stood in the school restroom, standing on top of the old porcelain sink and looking into a worn-out mirror on the wall, thinking over and over again,
“I am NOT ugly! I am NOT ugly!”
She could not believe her eyes. For the first time in her life, she could see that she could be pretty.
Annie B thought to herself, what does this mean? Am I a pretty girl? I am not ugly!
The Back Story
I have remembered this event for many years. It was the day my perception of myself changed. This might have been the day I realized I could dream about what I would want in life.
And while almost every week, I sat in one of the last pews in the church, watching my favorite church people’s behavior, looking at the store labels in the fur coats draped over the pew’s back, I observed behavior. I can tell you what their husbands did, Doctors, CPAs’, who shared their money when the church needed a new roof, windows, landscaping, and so on.
My daughter had a black velvet dress made by her Aunt. This Christmas, my Granddaughter wore the Black Velvet Dress. My hope is my Great-Granddaughter will wear the dress and that one day they understand why the black velvet dress given to me to wear for 45 minutes was so significant.
Don’t EVER feel sorry for me. I don’t feel sorry for myself. The longer I live, the more I realize all of the obstacles, crazy times, and some pretty horrible things are what shaped my strength.
I recognize that who your parents are or are not “can” make or break you. And, you always have the will to move forward.
How you start in life is very important and who is in your Village is Essential.
I recall looking at the labels in the fur coats at church, not recognizing the fur store names until I was much older. Seeing something more than you have is important, not because I think they should share their money with me, but because it tells me I too can have what I want.
Not what someone tells me I can have in a “dole” or government handout. That is Control and only creates “The Follower.” A Slave to the system. And being a Follower will never build self-confidence.
I have never been jealous of people with money. A lot of people with money do something I do not want to do. They employ other people.
Just sit back for a couple of minutes and think about what goes through the head of a family-owned business owner. Think they sleep soundly?
If so, start a business. Employ people. Be responsible for someone else’s livelihood and see how soundly you sleep.
I went to a public school in an area where most of Akron, Ohio’s Who’s Who lived, so I went to school with the children of Who’s Who.
Our local newspaper had a Society Section, and the yearly “Best Dressed Woman” had the last name I always recognized. At least, one of those women I recall greatly admiring.
We were not part of that group, and my family struggled to be middle class. While we always had what we needed, we lacked the extras, the things that “look” like you are at least middle class, like good haircuts and presentable clothing.
This is not a complaint against my parents. My father worked two jobs for as long as I can remember and lost his father as a teenager.
Life without a father or mother can significantly change your course. We are all products of our upbringing. To this day, I know the value of a good suit, dress, or pair of shoes.
Isabel was one of the sweetest girls in our Elementary school, and she was not struggling for money. She had one of the kindest mothers I have ever met.
Never in my life had I ever been pretty. I recall thinking to myself – How did this happen?! I put on a lovely dress, stand on top of the porcelain sink, look into an old worn-out mirror and realize I am not ugly! I am not ugly! I am not ugly!
What I learned that day was, I was not ugly. What I did not have were the extras. Today we all know what a “makeover” means. We see shows where a woman (or a man) walks into an episode of a show, an absolute mess, and walk out with a new haircut, hair color, makeup, and clothing. When asked how they feel, nine times out of 10, a woman will say, “I feel pretty, or I feel beautiful.”
Hollywood Stars look just like the rest of us without their high-priced clothes and makeup…..to this day, I never leave the house without lipstick! I joke. I don’t want to get caught by the paparazzi.
The story of Annie B is what many, many children go through. I did not know what was wrong with me; I knew I was so different from the other kids but could never figure it out until the day I put on Isabel’s black velvet dress.
In my days, I have done a lot of shopping at Thrift Stores, 2nd hand stores, and had to do layaway for my children’s clothing. Today, you can find great deals in local online marketplaces. So, we still have options.
By the way, the purse in the photo from “1960 Something“ is dark green velour and was purchased from a store in Evergreen, AL. Someone gave me a few dollars, and a green velour purse is what I bought. Love it.
Chinese Fortune Cookie – “Good clothes, open many doors. Go Shopping. “
What to Write About?
Just one thing – A memory you Love