TRAVEL BUG TALES: DADDY MAKES EVERYTHING ALRIGHT
So, we’re in El Paso, but our hanging clothes are still in my closet in Dallas. Mom insists the outfits in our luggage will not take us everywhere we need to go. So it was time to go shopping.
Saved by the Sears
When it came to clothes shopping, my family was usually on the JC Penney’s team. I’m not sure why we ended up at a Sears store in El Paso, but that’s what happened. At the front door Dad disappeared to do something mysterious and Mom took us to the girl’s dress department.
I’m guessing Dad went to the credit department and explained our dilemma. “Hi, I’m George Cave. We’re here on vacation and need to pick up a few things, but I left my credit card at home. Can you help?” Knowing my father he told them a whole lot more and I bet before he left the office he knew everything about the people who he’d been talking to. Dad was that guy.
Nowadays, all you have to do is give them your name and they can tell you anything and everything about yourself, re-fi your home and forecast your horoscope, but our shopping emergency happened in the days before computers ruled the world. He probably had to give them his driver’s license and wait around the credit department while a phone call was made to some centralized billing location. I’m imagining a huge room where someone had to go through a file cabinet or card file to find our account.
Meanwhile Mom was fluttering around with us among the dress racks. Had I been on the store’s security detail, I would have been suspicious of my mother. She was dancing around like a cat on a hot tin roof. I guess she was nervous about whether Dad would succeed at his assignment. My dad did everything my mom told him to do, but he didn’t always do it exactly the way Mom expected him to and that caused her a lot of anxiety. Of course, we’re talking about Ruth and pretty much everything caused her a lot of anxiety.
The Red and Gold Culotte Dress
Over the the last week or so, as I worked on this series of posts, I’ve been going through all my photo albums trying to find a picture of me in the dress we bought that day. I know there was at least one picture of me in it, but since it was a picture of a birthday party for my sister, she might have it somewhere.
I loved that dress. It had a roll collar, short sleeves and a drop waist. The color was tomato red with gold stripes – not metallic gold like it would be today, but the goldenrod color used for some copy paper. The fact that it was culottes caused a dilemma for my parents. School dress codes were strict in those days and culottes weren’t kosher. Would I ever wear it again after the vacation? Mother let me try it on, but warned me she had reservations about it.
I remember my dad showing up after his mysterious disappearance. He was grinning ear to ear and mother’s relief was obvious. “Daddy, daddy, look what I’ve found! Isn’t it a great color? And look it’s culottes! I can’t wear them to school, but I can wear them to Duck Inn and choir and…” I wanted to be the one to tell him about it, because I knew Mom would start with all the reasons it was impractical. Duck Inn was our favorite place to get catfish and we went every couple of weeks, so I figured including it would give the idea that I’d be wearing it a lot.
There was some discussion of price and if I remember correctly, we’d found it on the clearance rack and my dad thought, for the price, if all I did was wear it on vacation I would get our money’s worth. I wore the dickens out of that thing. It was if I had to prove Dad was right to let me buy it. I actually wore the dress to shredding, which was a weird thing. I was growing fast and Mom was fastidious about the laundry, so most of my clothes looked brand new when I outgrew them. This one started fraying where the skirt was connected to the bodice.
Vacation wise, I don’t remember what we saw in El Paso, but I do remember going over into Juarez. We saw the bats erupt from Carlsbad Caverns and then went down inside the next day. Somewhere along the way we visited White Sands National Park and the Palo Duro Canyons. We went to Houston that year to, but for the life of me, I can’t remember whether it was on the same trip or on another one later in the year.
Come back next week and I’ll share a few tidbits from that trip to the Houston area.