In the 1950’s, little girls got their first handwarmer muffs about the same time they graduated from diapers. Until my sister came along when I was four, I enjoyed the benefits of being an only child. My mother had not yet returned to work, which meant more time for shopping. Now, she not only enjoyed dressing herself, but also got a kick out of dressing me out in the latest fashions. Here, I wear a matching coat and hat outfit, complete with the article of clothing little girls disliked most—the dread wool leggings, which in Baltimore parlance (Balamorese) is pronounced “leggins.” Leggings were cut narrow, and since little girls then rarely wore long pants, mothesr would tuck, or rather cram, the bottom half of the little girl’s dress into the leggings. Under this coat the leggings came up like overalls, with adjustable straps and a zipper. The entire ensemble had the effect of making one feel like a little sausage, packed tight inside its casing. To compensate for the unpleasantness of the leggings, my mother bought me this little red patent leather purse (more on that later, for it would come to no good), and a white rabbit fur muff.
My mother has traded her black peplum skirt for a light colored, shorter garment with a sporty little side vent, and she wears her muskrat coat, bought before the war, and altered from its original full-length to this stroller design. In the early 1960’s , she had it remade into a cape. Eventually it stayed in the very back of the hall closet in its special furrier’s bag for years, until my sister rediscovered it during her first hippie phase in the early ‘Seventies.
And the red purse? The summer after this photo was taken, on a four–hour car ride to the shor, I chewed on the strap all the way to Ocean City. The imitation patent leather must have been toxic, for I was sick for several days with a bellyache, and had to see a pediatrician who prescribed paregoric. When I wasn’t looking, Mother disposed of the once-beloved purse, dumping it into a trash barrel behind the Hastings Sea-Mist Apartments.