White Wool Stockings

Way back in the dark ages of the 1930’s, young girl children wore short ankle socks and sandals during late Spring and Summer months. Their nimble, agile little legs were free to run and jump bathed in the sunshine and warm air. What a deliciously exhilarating feeling it was!

But with the advent of cooler temperatures (which coincided with the beginning of a new school year), more protective, and restrictive, hosiery appeared in dresser drawers – hated by every little girl in her right mind (and this little girl in particular). The legwear of which I write was knit of wool of some kind and was white. Although some lucky kids got to wear an oatmeal color rather than white, which stayed cleaner-looking as the day wore on. Both colors were ribbed completely all round, toe to top.

Early in the season the socks were knee-high, but as the temperature dropped, the socks grew in length to tights. And they itched. Oh, did they ever itch! Even worse, I was expected to keep the lines of ribbing in perfect perpendicular alignment. The admonitions were constant. “Stop fidgeting.” “Stop scratching.” “Straighten your stockings”. “A lady’s stocking seams are always straight.” This last equaled in usage by “A lady always wears clean white gloves.” I wonder if anyone in those dim, dark days of yore ever took into consideration just how difficult it is for small child to keep white gloves white and patterned stockings straight. (I remember that I frequently wondered at all the fuss about the necessity of being a “lady”.)

Be that as it may – warm weather always returned and the hated white stockings disappeared for another year.

Young boys had their own hosiery issues, I’m sure. I remember boys reaching down to ankles to retrieve stockings that refused to stay tucked under knickers. At least their legwear wasn’t white and didn’t have to have straight seams. I don’t know about the itching.

But I guess everything worked out okay. By the time I reached the age of majority, white gloves were no longer in vogue and stockings were seamless and made of nylon. And…. I discovered that I really didn’t have to be a “lady”. Nor have I been — except once in a while, when I really feel like it.

Jeannie Peck
Southbury, CT © 2013

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