When my wife, Mabyn, and her brother, Frank Kean, suggested the "Coats for Kids" program, it was quickly embraced by WBRZ's then News Director, John Spain. One of the slogan's that Mabyn's agency advanced was "Kids Grow, Coats Don't..." This slogan was certainly appropriate for me, while growing-up and with schools back in session in a couple of weeks I was reminded of our return-to-school preparations. With a limited budget and no school uniforms, our Mom would schedule the traditional "school clothes trip." A favorite shopping spot for her but maybe not her four boys was Zayre's. This Department Store began in 1956 and was later sold to Ames Department Stores in 1990, later merging with T.J. Maxx. Once we entered the massive store we received our orders, "Three pairs of school pants and three shirts is all we can afford," Mom insisted. The sizing for our shirts was relatively easy but not the school pants. Mom instructed that we "try-on" pants that were at least a size or two larger. Mom was quite the seamstress and made practically every one of my sister's school dresses from patterns in addition to numerous prom and wedding gowns for friends and relatives. Upon the return trip from Zayre's, her boys were obligated to put on their school pants and stand on the dining room table. Mom would then measure and "pin-up" the trousers to an exact fit and tailored them to our liking. This process also included "hemming-up" the "pant-legs" to the needed length without cuffs. The reason for no-cuffs? As the school year progressed, and similar to our coats campaign of today, we grew but the pants didn't. A traditional comment from school mates included, "Hey Pat, are you getting ready for a flood?" Where the pant length should touch the top of the shoe, mine were much higher, thus the jabs. A bit of additional embarrassment included the three hemlines that were evident throughout the school year from the needed adjustments from September through June. We also were members of the "Hand-Me-Down Club." Sign-up for Pat's columns at www.PatShingleton.com.
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