Every year, until I was a teenager, my parents took me to town to buy a years supply of new school clothes. Every year produced the same results. My new wardrobe always contained three plaid, flannel shirts, three pairs of bib overalls, assorted socks and underwear, and a new pair of lace up, high top, shoes. There was never a need to try any of it on, it was always two or three sizes to big. I am sure my mother’s theory was that they would fit me when they were worn out. Generally speaking she was right.
She would turn down the neck of my worn out shirt, look at the size tag, add the appropriate number and pick out, red plaid, green plaid, and blue plaid shirts. We would move on to the bib overalls, she would hold up a pair and when she found a size that required the legs to be turned up, at least, twice to be short enough and the adjustable shoulder straps to pull the bib up just short of my chin, she would add three pairs to the pile. Next we would visit the underwear selection and I would get, the usual three, one piece long johns. Here again the theory was, after all it was August, it would soon be turning cold, the extra layer would help keep the mosquitos from biting, and while it was hot it would provide insulation from the sun. Having lived through those theories, I can report that the only accurate thing about them was that it was August. They would add a new pair of shoes to the stack along with some socks and their shopping trip, for me, was complete.
All of these purchases were made at the J. C. Penney Store, located in the county seat. The only part of this shopping trip that interested me was how the sales were completed. The sales person would get out her sales book write down the purchases, hand add the total, my dad would pay her. After she was paid, she put the ticket and the money in a little carrier, pulled a cord, and sent the money to a cashier on the second floor. The cashier would check the sales slip and verify the money, send any change and a paid receipt back. While the cashier was checking those things the clerk would wrap the whole purchase up in a length of brown paper and tie it up with string. Once the purchase was complete it was all loaded up in the car, along with me, and we would go home where I was told to try it all on, to make sure it would still fit a year later and if it was too small it could be returned. As far as I can recall nothing was ever returned for being either too big or too small.
Now seventy odd years later as I look back at those purchases, they did accomplish several useful things for later life. First, I strive to never buy anything that doesn’t fit, even if it is attractive, I have reached an age where I no longer need to grow into anything. Second, I refuse to wear plaid. Third, I do not in any circumstance wear anything associated with the word bib. Fourth, I prefer not to wear lace up shoes and especially high top lace up shoes. While all of this did influence my later life, in clothing preferences, I now see it as both somewhat old fashioned and a little humorous.