Friday, March 16, 2012

Saint Patrick's Day Memories

When I was a little girl, we often did our Easter shopping on Saint Patrick's Day.  My siblings and I were educated at Catholic schools during the 1960's and early 70's, and we often had St. Patrick's Day off from school.  In those days, most of the nuns who staffed the elementary school were from Ireland, so March 17th was a holiday for us (in Ireland, at least at that time, Saint Patrick's Day was a holy day of obligation; I'm not sure if it still is).

So, since Mom had all four of her children at home on a weekday, and since all of our friends went to public schools and weren't available to play, she would often choose Saint Patrick's Day as the day to take us to get our Easter outfits.  In those days, people dressed up for church even on ordinary Sundays, so dressing up for Easter was a HUGE deal.  My sister and I always got new dresses (either store bought or homemade), new slips, hats, shoes, purses, sometimes even gloves.  (I guess this is how I developed my love of hats & gloves!)  My brothers got new clothes, too, but, let's face it, shopping for her girls' Easter clothes had to have been a lot more fun for my mom than shopping for the boys.

The dress, hat & glove shopping was usually done at JC Penney or Montgomery Ward's, but shoes were purchased at Charlie Grose's shoes in Fullerton, CA. That shoe store is long gone now, and Mr. & Mrs. Grose went to their heavenly reward many years ago, but I will always remember what wonderful people they were. As I recall, they specialized in selling children's shoes, and it was a pleasure for children to shop there.  There was a play area, a small merry go round type of ride, and a treasure chest filled with small prizes that we could choose from once we had purchased our shoes.  For many years, we even received birthday cards from the Grose's, cards that they had clearly hand picked with each child in mind, then hand signed and addressed. That type of personal service in business seems to be long gone, but I certainly remember it fondly.  What a wonderful example they gave on how to treat their customers!

After the shopping, we often stopped at Woolworth's, or T G & Y, or Kresge's (does anyone remember the dime stores?) for a hot dog, chips and cokes, all eaten at the counter, right in front of the soda fountain.  It was such a rare treat that the food seemed to taste so much better than the hot dogs and chips at home.

I wish I could afford a new Easter outfit this year, but I'm not sure if I'll be working yet or not, so I'll have to take a walk down memory lane for my Easter Clothes Fix.  At the risk of my siblings wanting to kill me, I thought I would share a few pictures of those Easter outfits of the past:

Easter, 1964. I was 2 and half and apparently couldn't keep my hat on.  My sister knew the drill, though. Those dresses were actually sent to my mom from her aunt, who had them made by a dressmaker in Detroit.  I still have my dress and as you can see by the new photo below, the color in the old photo has deteriorated considerably.

Easter, 1962. I apparently couldn't bother looking at the camera.  My sister looks so cute in her finery, and Mom looks so young.  She was just 30 years old.

Easter, 1968. I LOVED my yellow dress. You can't tell from the photo, but the skirt had rows and rows of white lace.

The picture is unusual in that my younger brother isn't struggling to break free from whoever is holding him. Almost every photo of him from those days shows him with a wild look in his eyes, and a sibling or two trying to hang on to him. Here, DAD has control, but Baby Bro doesn't look too happy about it. 

And the cutest picture of all?  My sister, circa 1959.  She was adorable!!

We still have this dress as well. And I have to say, my admiration for the 1950's housewife has increased by leaps and bounds.  This sweet little dress was a pain in the @$%$% to iron.  As you can see, I finally gave up when it came to the sleeves.

I hope that when my sister has granddaughters, we can dress them in their Grandma's dress.  There's going to be a lot of dress up going on when Grandma & Grauntie Julie come to play.  And maybe for Saint Patrick's Day, we can keep a tradition alive, and take them out shopping for Easter clothes (and maybe a toy or two!) and then take them for a hot dog & a soda.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.  Thanks so much for stopping by!


  1. What precious memories and your Easter outfits were so sweet. I can remember getting little white gloves and a new white patent leather purse and matching shoes to go with my new Easter dress. It's so nice that you actually still have your dresses from your childhood.


  2. Your Easter pictures are so sweet and remind me a lot of my photos on Easter when I was little. We always wore Easter hats, too! How wonderful you still have your dresses! Happy St. Patrick's Day, Julie!

  3. I love the dresses and pictures! I seriously was just about in tears reading the last part of the post. We have a baby blue suit that originally belonged to my Dad's father. He had pictures taken of him in the suit and it has become a tradition for all of his male children and grandchildren to have pictures taken in it as well. I love to see the pictures of all the boys in the same suit. It is awesome to have a dress for the girls to have pictures taken in from family as well! This post made me incredibly happy. Just the thing to brighten my day. Thank you, Julie! I can't wait to see it in person!

    1. That's so cool about the blue suit from your dad's father. I love traditions like that.

      We also have a dress that my mom wore when she was little and I think we have a photograph of her in it. Her grandparents brought it from Hungary; it's done in traditional Hungarian embroidery. The next time you & I are both in OC at the same time, I'll ask Elaine to bring it out to show it to you.

  4. What a fun memory! I love that you still have those dresses. That is so sweet that your mom saved them.

    Hope you had a nice weekend,

  5. I loved seeing you and your sister in your easter dresses, brings back lots of memories
    talking about more respect for housewifes back them , ever notice how your mother had such a small waist line? my Mother and grandmother were so trim back then


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