By Lorry Myers
Home Economics was required for all eighth-grade girls and I was one of those. The class was designed to teach impressionable females all they needed to know about the practical things in life. Tomboys like me were taught to cook and sew and behave like a lady.
My mother was happy about that.
Our teacher was a soft-spoken southern lady who managed to teach more about life than she did about cooking and sewing. Mrs. Thigpen dutifully followed the curriculum determined to turn a gaggle of giggling girls into an enlighten class of modern young ladies.
She had her work cut out for her.
In the first quarter, we planned menus, learned to set a proper dinner table and baked with ingredients I’d never heard of. The second quarter, we studied the facts of life and other personal things that no one likes to talk about. We budgeted a checkbook and learned finance in the third quarter, along with writing thank you notes and memorizing the wisdom of Emily Post. Finally, in the fourth quarter we would learn to sew.
My mother was really happy about that.
Growing up, Mom made all of our clothes. Easter frocks, Christmas pinafores, long formals and one day…even my wedding dress. With four daughters, this dedicated seamstress was always sewing and since we were weary of homemade dresses, my sister’s and I didn’t really want to learn. Still, I watched my mother as she cut a pattern on the kitchen table. I’d sit beside her as she hemmed and listened to her hum as she stitched into the night. My mother was a genius with a sewing machine.
Everyone assumed I would be too.
Mrs. Thigpen started the sewing class with tacking on buttons and hemming fabric squares. Next was a basic apron made from a scrap box that proved to me that sewing was not as easy as my mother made it look. The final class project was a mother-daughter tea that would showcase our cooking skills by the assorted trays of baked cookies we served, and our etiquette skills by crafting the perfect invitation and setting the perfect table. Following the tea would be a fashion show where students would model Easter dresses we had designed and sewed ourselves.
For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard