The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Olden Golden Rule Days - Part 3 of 6

By Virginia Webb Mitchell © 1985

Issue: November, 1985

Socially, we students seemed to be on an equal footing. Economically, most of us had been accustomed to so little, we barely noticed when the depression hit! Dress code posed no problem; the students wore what they had and that included long underwear in the winter. No matter how we girls tried, there never seemed to be a way to fold or lap the legs of the underwear so that they would lie flat under our long cotton stockings. We resorted to rolling the underwear legs up above our knees, making cumbersome and curious looking bulges under our skirts, but we didn't care as long as our legs didn't look "lumpy." We then had to be careful to remember not to run too hard lest the underwear legs unroll and fall for all the school to see. Returning home, we carefully unrolled the underwear legs before we were within seeing distance of our houses so as not to arouse the curiosity of our mothers.

Most of the girls wore bloomers which had been made from flour sacks. Although her efforts never met with complete success, Mother did try very hard to bleach out the brand name from the sacking. She was an accomplished seamstress, but her handiwork met flat rejection once when my discerning eye depicted the faint lettering "U.S.A. Pat. Off." written broadside across the lower back of the garment.

The boys wore bib or "possumbelly" overalls. They now appear "chic" in old school pictures since the blue jean craze. There were few status symbols, but one of the first to emerge was a black aviator cap with goggles, the Lindbergh cap! It was every boy's dream to own one. My cousins, Jim and Archie, were the first in our neighborhood to wear these caps as they managed to stave off the covetous eyes of my brothers and other schoolmates.

There were projects to raise money for the school. In my preschool days, I remember that my brothers and sister were given Cloverine Salve or Rosebud Salve to sell. I was fascinated by their attractive containers, so much so that Mother promptly stored them beyond my reach to make certain that I didn't incur for her a liability for a whole carton.