AtoZ Letter P ~ Patterns, Predictions and Perspectives

"Sue, to be a seamstress you must learn to use and read  pattern instructions."

Those words from my Mother and Homemaking Teacher usually had me putting the pattern and instruction guide back in the pattern envelope.  I was a 'Visual Learner'. 

Show me once and I've got it.  Give me a 'Step by Step' picture guide, and I can do it.  I think it all goes back to doing Math Word Problems which I talked about in Letter I-Iowa Test~Not My IQ.  In a nutshell  my brain interpreted written instructions and math word problems like this:  If you have 10 ice cubes and you have 11 apples, how many pancakes will fit on a roof?

As a first born, I was a parent and teacher pleaser, (Child Psych 101) therefore, I worked very hard to make ice cubes, apples and pancakes translate in to Dresses, PJ's, and Pants.

Sewing was my favorite part of Home Economics, and often the teacher, an excellent cook and so so sewist, would have me demonstrate how to put in a zipper, or my short cut technique of putting in sleeves... with an emphasis on 'this is not the way the pattern instructions show how to do it'.

At home...I completely took over Mother's sewing machine and sewed dresses, skirts, blouses and pajamas for my two younger sisters and myself.  I did not have a problem with being one of those girls who admitted to "making all my own clothes". 

My Teacher said, "Sue, knowing about Fabrics, Patterns, Sewing Machines, and all that goes with being a Seamstress can lead to a career."  She did not mention Culinary School.
My Coach said, "Sue, being able to read and draw basketball plays along with knowing how to shoot a right and left hook shot will make you a better basketball coach." He forgot to mention the after school days and hours, pay and parents.
My Mother said, "Sue, you can't play basketball forever, but you can sew for the rest of your life." 
Thanks Coach...you gave me so much more than basketball plays and how to shoot a hook shot.  So many life lessons learned on and off the court carried me through a Teaching/Coaching Career.

Thanks Mrs. B and Mrs. P...I can not imagine my life without Sewing and Needlework.  Not only did I learn to read Patterns, but became a Quilt Pattern Designer.  To you I owe my lifetime interest in the Textile Industry...which led to a second career after Coaching...Sue's Quilt Shop, Sewing Machine Dealership and Machine Quilting Services.

Thank-you Mother...for everything!


AtoZ Letter O ~ Operator..."It's a Comb Not a Wand"

"I'm a Beautician Not a Magician".  I get a kick out of todays phrases about Beauty Operators....that's what we called them Back In The Day!  "Don't Worry...it will Grow Back!"  I can't tell you how many times I FELT like saying that when I was a student at McBride-Davis School of Hair Design.
By the time I received this Diploma on November 15, 1968, I had been married for almost three years, been to one semester of college, worked as a waitress and while attending 'Beauty School' part time was a secretary at Texas Tech.
I felt right at home going to Beauty School.  I had been giving hair cuts and perms for years....at home.  Aqua Net, Dippity Do, New Dawn Color, Toni, Lilt and VO5 were staples at our house.  I have to say though, giving perms at the Beauty School/Shop was a lot less messy and easier.  The Shampoo Bowl sure beat hanging your head over the kitchen sink with stinky perm solutions running down your neck and over your face.

Beauty School was not just about fixing hair.  There was Theory Class with studies in Skin Care, Nails and Makeup Artistry.  I learned a lot...especially about Skin Care.

My experience had been a good face washing ordered by my Dad who disagreed with Maybelline on the amount of eye makeup and lipstick girls should wear. 

As for Nails, I had no clue, and was shocked that long fingernails did not have to grow out of your fingers.  You could glue them right on and paint them as red as Mae West's.  Pedicure...who knew feet could be so pretty...or so ugly.  Then there was Makeup Artistry.  I became a Revlon, CoverGirl, Maybelline Makeup Queen.  A mascara, lipstick and fake eyelash wearer.  All the while remembering my Dad's words, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and pretty is as pretty does".  It was a reminder to wash my face!

Besides learning to give a Superb Sassoon Sculpture Haircut and Commendable Color Coiffure...remarks on my State Boards...learning about Wigs, Wiglets, and Falls turned out to be the second most important aspect of becoming a Hair Designer.

After receiving my 'Operators' license, I went to work for McBrides Beauty Shop.  A job offered to the two top graduates from their school. 

In the years that followed working as a Hairdresser was an easy hire wherever we moved in Texas.

It was in 1969-70 that the training in Wigs, Wiglets and Falls kept me in the Operator/Hair Design business when we moved to Maryland.  Without a Maryland Operators License, I could not touch a hair on their Yankee head, but instead became known as the 'Wig, Wiglet and Fall Gal' from Big Hair Texas. 

Oh, by the way....my hair was really, really short in 1968. 

I should have had this button!


AtoZ Letter M-N ~ Mimeograph Paper & Newspaper

The paper is yellowed.  The worksheets are mimeographed.  The Good Housekeeping Pamphlets are OhSoRetro! 

Can you guess the years I am 'trippin' through?  Maybe you, too have memorabilia and memories from the 1960's.   Do you have a HOMEMAKING II Notebook/Scrapbook?  I DO!!!

I'm so glad I saved all of those mimeographed Homemaking assignments, all of the pamphlets distributed by Betty Crocker, Home Service Company's like the Edison Electric Company and Good Housekeeping.  The Improvised Equipment Assignment gave me some insight about being a life long improviser.  It began way back when I learned to make a paper cup out of a sheet of mimeograph paper.  The cup was stapled to the assignment...I won't test it for holding water...it's 51 years old.   

 The best find in the assignment was the improvised waste paper bag made from The San Angelo Standard Times Morning Edition, May 9, 1964.  I'm going to plug in my Presto Percolator, grab my favorite cup, Elsie's Cream and a teaspoon of Imperial.  Won't you join me in a cup of Folgers and the morning paper....
Are you curious about what happened to Winnie Winkle and Brenda Starr?   I was. 
*Winnie Winkle was published from 1920-1996 in more than 100 newspapers.  Stories and artwork by Martin Branner.  Winnie Winkle was one of the first comic strips about working women and served as a reflection of the changing role of women in society.  (read more HERE)
*Brenda Starr was created in 1940 by Dale Messick.  Brenda Starr was portrayed as a glamorous, adventurous reporter, and at the height of the strips popularity it appeared in 250 newspapers.  The final strip was published on January 2, 2011.  (read more HERE)

PS...just in case you don't go back that far...Presto Percolator=Mr. Coffee...Elsie's Cream=Coffeemate...Imperial=Real Sugar.

Oh, and what about Mickey Mantel?  As you read, he was hitting home runs for the Yankees and continued to do so for four more years after this article was printed in 1964.  Known as the greatest switch hitter of all time, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.  (read more HERE)  I was a Mickey Mantle Fan...what a fun find after all these years!
Now, how about a Folgers re-fill...cream and sugar?


AtoZ Letter L~Lovely Long Locks...Not Likely!

Three out of the five of us were blessed with our Mothers full, thick, coarse and lovely head of hair.  Two of us inherited our father's half, thin, fine, male pattern baldness receding hairline, sideburns, uni-brow and facial hair.  It looked fine on my brother...he's a guy.

Not so much on ME!!!!

The Uni-brow was plucked away at age 13....right after the shaving of hairy legs and arm pits. 

Thank God for female hormones that prevented the inheritance of Dad's hairy chest.  More there than on his head.  Worked fine for my brother...he's a guy.

What genetic goof up causes hair follicles to sprout in all the wrong places? 

As you may have guessed, my hair issues have been around since, well...since the beginning.  Yep, I was born with a full head of long, baby fine, straight as string cat hair. 

Over the years my mother bobbed, permed, spit, braided, gooed, and cried over her first borns pitiful Pittman hair.  I was, after all, my fathers fault.

The second born was our fathers fault, too.  He was as bald as I was hairy.  When he reached his teens, his Uni-Brow was fully furrowed and his receding hair line was right in style with 77 Sunset Strip Star Kookie...aka Ed Byrnes.  Again...worked for him...not so much for me.

What did work for me was tweezers, rat tail combs, Aqua Net, Dippity Do, Lilt Perms, upperlip depilatory and the 1960's BIG HAIR-DO!  Who would have guessed that purposefully tangling, packing and frizzing one's hair would be the answer to looking like a Brunette Dolly Parton...from the neck up...paternal genes, again!  You won't be surprised to learn that all that 'Hair Care' eventually led me to a 'Hair Calling'.  I'll fill you in on the Letter 'O's post....'Operator'~It's A Comb Not a Wand!

By the time child number three came along the Pitiful Pittman Hair curse must have been broken.  My sister got all the right stuff for a lifetime of long, lovely locks.  I referenced her perfect pigtails and full bangs in Letter B's post...Bathing Beauty Bombs.

While her 'Maternal Folicles' grew and grew, mine didn't.  I had Long Length Folicle Failure'.  One hundred brush strokes a day will make your hair shine and stimulate growth.  Ha! That's bunk!  I lost chunks! 

I could go on and on with quips about extra body and volume shampoos that didn't work on my hair or my body.  Even though #3 child didn't need it for her hair, she used it anyway.  She got the extra body all right...on her thighs. 

She didn't heed the Do Not Use in the Shower warning!   I suggested she use Dawn on her long locks, thighs and legs.  It's label clearly states "dissolves fat that is otherwise difficult to remove." She threw her hairless brush at me.  I ducked...brother didn't...funny thing...after all those hundred strokes it never shined my hair like it shined his eye.

Three Blessed Heads on the left.  Two Not Likely Heads on the right.


AtoZ Letter K ~ Kitchen Bests

If ever there was a kitchen quote that best described Mother's Kitchen, this is the one.  For one thing, if we had guests...there was not a "No Matter Where"...it was the Kitchen, and as you might guess, they did like Mother's Kitchen Best!  The rest of us non-guests had no choice in the matter of where we ate...it was at the kitchen table.

There was no TV watching during meal time...we didn't have one.  There was little or no talking except for please pass the gravy or from Dad, "Sue, eat your okra."  Boiled okra was the one thing I could not even look at much less eat.  I would wash dishes every night for the next kabillion years to not have to eat that snotty, slimey stuff.  Which I did...wash dishes forever...after spewing the slime all over the dinner table.

Mother's kitchen was a Waste Not...PayDay's a Week Away kinda kitchen. She could stretch a 'Fryer' farther than the road from here to Dallas...and that was a long way from our kitchen. 

Fried Chicken was a Sunday Special with mashed potatoes and cream gravy, corn bread and banana pudding.  Every item on that menu was a result of some part of that Stretched Fryer...except for the pudding.  If you are from that era of 'Waste Not...Want Not' then you know what I'm talkin' about.

For instance...The Fryer...it was the Whole Chicken...bagged with skin, layers of globby fat and guts...pretty much everything but the head, feet and feathers.  I know you are dying to know how I know so much about Fryers.  Let's just say, I was the butcher!  I can still hear Mama sayin', "Sue, you are butcherin' that Fryer.  Pick it up off the floor and hold onto the leg.  It's a knife, not a saw...here's a bandaid!"


AtoZ Letter J~Jack of All Trades

Howdy! What'll Ya'll have?

My Dad taught me that phrase!  I was 12 years old when my parents bought the Frontier Drive Inn.  It was the first of several ventures into the restaurant business my Dad tried over the years and where I was trained to be a Carhop/Burger Flipper/Soda Jerk/Short Order Cook/Dishwasher/Waitress/Cashier/Bouncer and made employable where ever I lived....forever. 

In short I was the Spittin' Image Jack of All Trades of my parents.  Surely, I was the youngest 'Carhop' ever to hop up on a step stool, whip out a big chief tablet and say "Howdy, What'll Ya'll have?"

 It was a good thing that everyone pretty much ordered a Burger Basket and Shakes...I was new to writing cursive and printing was way to slow.

I carried the step stool around like a tray.  It did double duty to be at eye level with the cars and the 'Order and Pickup Window'.  It was an invention of necessity as my Dad got tired of sticking his head out the window to get the BigChief Slips and hand out the Burger Baskets and Shakes.  He really was a Jack of All Trades.

I found these photos taken at the back door of the Frontier in one of Mother's 'Treasure Boxes'.  I know they were treasures to her as it was the first time my grandmother and cousin from Iowa had visited us in many years.  

That is Mother in the middle...my barefoot sister Connie in front, and me in the back...probably standing on my tray/step stool.

You should know that the Frontier Drive Inn had more to offer than a Skinny Kid Carhop.  Oh yeah, there was inside dining on Burger Baskets and Shakes, too, where Mother would take orders on a real Order Ticket Pad written in pretty cursive.  She was an experienced, friendly and pretty waitress who seldom used a tray.

She could line five Burger Baskets up her arm and carry three or four large Shakes in one hand, and when she used a tray, it was a balancing act to behold.  Everyone loved for her to wait on them just to watch her waitress...it was art...the way she tore off the ticket, laid it on the table face down with the dog eared corner up for easy pick up.  They couldn't reach in their pockets quick enough to leave her a tip, pay the check and be blessed with her beautiful smile and Iowa accent 'Thank-you, You Guys come back!"  And, they did! 

I remember thinking, "When I grow up I want to be a waitress just like my Mother."  And, I was...while putting myself through school...while home for the summer (their real Restaurant)...when my husband was in the Army in Maryland (a Greek waitress comedy...story HERE).
The one thing I never could get was
Mother's Yankee Iowa Thank-you and "You Guy's come back'."
Funny thing though...those Maryland Yankee's couldn't get enough of my
Howdy!  What'll Ya'll have?

Julie....Empty Nester...Letter J~Jury Duty
How to get out of Jury Duty!


AtoZ Letter I ~ Iowa Test...Not My IQ

Dear Parent, Your student recently was tested by the ITOED.  Please note your student's score as charted on the graph and interpreted on the percentile key.  The scores are applicable to future education pursuits...ie college entrant requirements.  Thank you for selecting SRA presscore for testing your child's aptitude and educational developmental skills.

Yes, it happened...my Mother had me tested.  In truth, everyone's mother had them tested.  It was part of the senior year experience in preparation for graduation and just in case you decided to go to college.  I wasn't going...to college, and I didn't want to be tested.  I knew there would be 'math word problems'...that was a problem because every time I saw a math word problem it looked like this:  If you have 10 ice cubes and you have 11 apples, how many pancakes will fit on a roof?

My parents were pleased with the test results and said, "Look here, Sue, you scored above average on all but parts 5 and 6, and they weren't even math word problems.  I'm not sure what the rest of the numbers mean, but surely it must mean you have an Above Average IQ."  They were happy, so I was happy and I still wasn't going to college so the ITOED letter and results went straight to the scrapbook box along with the Junior year report card.
I had no grade worries especially in MB (Marching Band), WH (World History) and PE/Athletics.  Never mind about the B's and C's in Algebra...I passed, but that big red 50 sent my Dad into outer space and that was years before even Neal Armstrong went there. 

Getting algebra was worse than word problems...how in the world was I suppose to get an answer to a problem that looked like this...a + (2 x b2 (squared) -27) =____...really...when would anyone use that...not me...I was not going to college....even though I did kind of want to be a basketball coach, and had a chance for a basketball scholarship.  But as my Dad pointed out 'big red 50's' and below average #'s 5 and 6 was not promising.  "Oh well," said I, "I'll just marry a coach".

Years later...after college, after becoming a basketball coach and after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon I opened the scrapbook box and discovered that the Iowa Test of Educational Development was not an IQ test.  Thank God...all those years I thought my IQ was 59 just because it was the last number on the 'key'.  Somewhere I read that a score that low was close to what Daffy Duck called a 'Maroon' (moron). 
Just to double check and confirm that I am not a 'Maroon', I took an online IQ Test.
IQ Test
OMG...it was full of 'word problems'!
I just checked the multiple choice answer that was closest to
the number of pancakes on the roof!
Alana....Ramblin with AM


AtoZ Letter H~Home Economics...Heloise Who?

The Home Economics classroom was on the second floor of our high school building and had a half dozen big windows that opened in case we had to flap our aprons over burnt cookies to keep from calling the fire department. The kitchen was well equipped with several double ovens, ranges and at least one refrigerator.  Counter space, sinks and cabinets were more than adequate for a class of 10 to 15 girls.

Some of the girls had high hopes of becoming the next Betty Crocker or June Cleaver.  I was not one of them.  I knew all I needed to know about cooking, baking and Crisco.  Standing over a hot stove frying chicken and stirring gravy was not my idea of fun.  I did that at home.

Sewing was fun.  Sewing was creative and you had something to show for your efforts besides a sink full of dirty dishes. 

Even though I wasn't all that interested in cooking and food preparation, I was very interested in Kitchen Design and any and everything that had to do with Setting the Table.

And so began a lifetime of collecting Dishes, Glassware, Tablecloths, Napkins, Crystal, Pottery and you name it in the realm of Vintage to Retro Table Settings. 

Looking through my Home Economics Notebooks and Scrapbooks, I realized there were a good many other lessons learned besides making lopped sided cakes and sewing aprons.   Here is an example of 1964 Sex Education without actually using the 'S' word and without getting too personal....
Sue Pittman
H.E. II January 8, 1964
Chapter 14  Dating and Marriage
1.  What are the advantages of 'Going Steady'?
       You can always depend on having a date for social functions.
2.  What are the disadvantages of 'Going Steady'?
       You never get all your work done because you have to entertain your steady in the evenings.
 What do you think...was I into 'Going Steady'?
In spite of not being Betty Sue Crocker, but instead...having an aptitude for Setting a Table fit for the School Board,  plus having time to Sew Frilly Aprons for all the Betty Crocker Wannabe's due to not having to entertain a 'Steady'....I was Who's Who in Home Economics for 1964. 
Eat your heart out Heloise!

Jane...ETCETERA~Thoughts from my perfectly wrecked brain 


AtoZ Letter G~Grandfalls, Grammar & GeeWhiz..zard!

My Dad use to say...often..."No matter where you go or how far away you move...you always come back to your roots."  

He usually said that while standing on a patch of dirt rooted in weeds right after we moved back to West Texas from East Texas.  But in the case of Grandfalls, he could have written volumes on 'Back To Your Roots'. He and his siblings were the third generation of Pittmans born and raised there.

So, his roots became my roots and Grandfalls the record holder for the most consecutive years of attending school in one place...1959 through 1964...7th grade through 11th grade.

When I say the Letter 'G' was a huge part of my growing up...that is an understatement.  There were Big G's on my chest, running down both arms and hanging on my bedroom walls. Needless to say, 'Red' was and still is my favorite color.

Two of the three 'G's' noted in this posts title were rooted together in one activity...Basketball.  Obviously the first one is Grandfalls...so on to number two...Grammar...a new word in the 7th grade. Until then it was Language on our report card, but lots of things changed when I hit Jr. High.  The boys got shorter, the girls got boobs, Arithmetic became Math and Language became LangArts with subjects, verbs and adjectives dubbed as Grammar and suddenly they could be drawn like a stick figure.  No wonder 'Adolescence' is so confusing.

It helped that my LangArts/Grammar teacher was also my Basketball Coach who was on a quest to fill a roster of girls for his basketball team.   As a potential recruit with the longest legs in both 7th and 8th grades, I was not all that interested in basketball, but between the coach and my 1943 All County BB Mother I was convinced to play.  In the end we both won...he got a Player and I got a lifetime of lessons in sportsmanship, fair play, competitive spirit and more. Best of all, those two 'G's' led to a career as a Language Arts Teacher and Coach. 

My oh my, how things have changed since 1959.  I can't even imagine what Coach would think about how technology has changed our Grammar use today.  He is probably jumping through heavenly hoops at the disgraceful grammar, punctuation and spelling that flows from my A's in LangArts brain.  Then there are the run on sentences and rambling...Gadzooks!  Sorry Coach!  It's a sign of the times!

And that is the Gospel Truth!   The Good Grammar GuRu's of yesteryear have been replaced with the Google Guys.  Webster has been replaced with an Urban Dickins and Phonics has been replaced with Spell Check...thank the Geek Gods!  (or is that just me?...probably not)

 And how about this 21st Century Google Grammar Greatness....Sentence Diagram - 1AiWay

Marcy....Random Thoughts and Tender Mercies


AtoZ Letter F~ First Graders Fated Attraction

In Letter E's post, Elementary Education, I shared my very vivid memories of starting First Grade in East Texas and the complete lack of them when we moved to West Texas. Had it not been for my mother's photos taken during the 1950's, I would not have known moving from West to East and visa versa, was a pattern of the early years of my parents marriage.  A pattern that repeated itself many times over the years from that 1954 First Grade move to the 1964 Twelfth Grade move that sets up this story of an Incredible Connection/Fated Attraction discovered 50 years later.

It is a 'Time Travel Puzzle', so stay with me as I put the pieces together as I discovered them.

Fast forward from 1954, 1st grade West Texas to 1964-65, 12th grade West Texas and my graduating class.  At least 12 of the 1st grade classmates in Mrs. Watson's class were in my graduating class, and while I had moved back and away three or four times, they stayed together.  From one move to the next, they didn't remember me nor I them. 

Over the years of Class Reunions and living in our hometown,  I got to know my classmates mostly through my marriage to one of the First Grade Twelve.
Fast Forward to 2014 and planning for the 50th Class Reunion. My job was to put together a Website of Memories, so  I began going through our (his and mine) scrapbooks, photo collections and boxes of memorabilia our 'Saver Mothers' had given us years before.

~From my Senior Year Scrapbook:  Senior Picture and Graduation Program
From my mother's memorbilia box:  West Texas First Grade Report Card-Teacher Mrs. Watson and East Texas First Grade School Picture.
~From his Senior Year Scrapbook:  Senior Picture
From his mother's memorabilia box:  First Grade Class Photo-Teacher Mrs. Watson.

Here's what I discovered when I put our 1st and 12th Grade memorabilia together.
I wish, I wish, I could remember the 4th and 5th Six Weeks of the First Grade!
All I can say is, 'It is First Grade Fate'...Oh, and I believe in Kismet!


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