Anyone that has known me for awhile, understands my love of the Civil War era. The time period leading up to it is one of my favorite in history. It is probably because of the clothing…mostly. If I had lived in that era, unfortunately for me I would not have been one of the women lounging on the veranda, sipping a Mint Julep. My relatives came from Norway and Sweden, (at least the ones I can track) and they settled in Minnesota. They were poor farmers and I have seen pictures of great, great, etc. grandmothers sitting on the porch, in a rocker, wearing hob-nail boots and smoking a corn pipe. That ends my romantic Gone With the Wind dream right there!
I do have a great imagination…probably what led to the writing thing. After I saw Gone With the Wind the first time, I had to have a hoop skirt. I didn’t think they made them anywhere anymore and if they did, I certainly couldn’t have afforded one on my paper girl money! Besides, my parents would have thought I lost my mind. So, I took apart several wire hangers, not an easy task, mind you and then I stretched them into circles. I think I made around three or four in graduating widths. I hooked a couple together to make them longer…and I had my hoop skirt! I draped a sheet or two over the top and proudly showed my siblings. I’m sure they thought I was crazy as well! My father said something to the effect of pretty ingenious, but a waste of hangers and time and if I had so much on my hands, maybe I needed more chores. I of course thought I looked gorgeous and Scarlett O’Hara had nothing on me!
As I have posted before, I was absolutely thrilled when I learned they had a spring ball in a town close to our town. We were attending jam sessions in this town almost every Friday night for while. So when they offered Contra Dance lessons before the ball, I was in! January and February of that year I sewed non-stop. First my daughter’s ball gown, then mine, three vests for my husband and son, string ties as well. Our two youngest daughters were not old enough to wear the hoops, but they dressed for the era as well. Of course all of this took much research . I loved it! I also learned that you could buy hoop skirts and they really weren’t that expensive. Wal-Mart had some great patterns on sale. Our second oldest and I were about as authentic as you could get for the 21st century…and it didn’t cost very much either. It was a dream come true.
The night of the ball arrived. Our oldest daughter, expecting our first grandchild, took many pictures for us. We piled our dresses, literally, into our mini van and headed to the ball. It was such a fun night! My husband probably hated it, but he really was a great dancer. He could remember all the steps I couldn’t and he was very gracious when I messed up. Not to mention he looked wonderful as well.
For me, it was a dream come true. We only went to two balls. The first one was in the winter and we kind of just put together our outfits. I had skirts I had made years before and I made a blouse to go with the black and white flannel skirt I wore. With all the petticoats beneath, we stayed nice and warm.
I do wish I could go back and live during that period of history for just a short time. I would have certain criteria of course. Before the Civil War, I would have had a grand mansion on the east coast, (way too hot for me in the south!) and on and on in my perfect world. But dreaming is what makes life more bearable at times. Sometimes our dreams become reality…but that’s for another post!