The green one was the best one

By Joanne Peterson | Apr 12, 2012

The year I was in sixth grade, I outgrew my forest green hooded wool coat with the leopard-print lining.

I had worn the dress-length coat for two years and wished I could wear it every winter forever.

I’ve mentioned it before, noting that the fur-lined hood worked just fine for toting several library books.

It’s difficult to imagine how it worked out satisfactorily when my mother placed orders from Montgomery Ward sale catalogs for end-of-season “odd lot” sale clothing.

When I acquired that leopard-lined coat, its arrival at the post office resulted from an order blank on which my mother entered a catalog number for an “assorted girls’ winter coat” in a size 12. She didn’t have a clue what it would be like—and neither did I. Oh, the excitement—and trepidation-- of opening those packages. (Not everything was lovely. The green coat just happened to be perfect.)

Unfortunately, by the time I was in sixth grade and needed a new warm coat, I was in my baby-fat, bad-haircut, puffed-sleeved, ugly-glasses phase and was self-conscious as all get-out.

I just got knots in my stomach remembering that unfortunate time. A couple of people have told me I didn’t look that bad, but I did.

That year, shopping for a new winter coat was a miserable experience. Nothing fit.

Could it have been true that there were NO coats in all of Seattle that pleased me, fit me and were affordable? (I guess there weren’t any “odd lot” Montgomery Ward catalog coat sales that fall.)

My mother must have felt terrible, as her unhappy daughter dragged her from store to store, looking for the elusive coat. Finally, though, we found one. I don’t even remember the store, whether it was a department store or a smaller shop.

Anyway, one coat fit, and my mother and I convinced each other that a dress-length stop-sign-yellow wool coat was acceptable.

My dad called me his little sunbeam. Sometimes, though, walking past a store window and seeing myself and the yellow coat reflected, I wondered whether anyone else thought I looked like a big canary.

I don’t remember whether the coat fit the next year, although I fear that it did.

At age three, my grandson Adam has strong opinions about what he wears to daycare—or “school,” as we call it.  “No jeans!” “Other jacket!” (His wise mother chooses her battles.)

In my current favorite photo of Adam, my sweet boy is headed from the house to the car, on his way to daycare.

He wears a cartoon-themed pajama top, miss-matched printed pajama bottoms, a baseball cap—backwards—and, on his feet, swim flippers.

My funny little grandson is a well-adjusted kid, comfortable being himself.

I hope when he’s in sixth grade, he still feels confident and self-assured, though perhaps by then he oughtn't wear swim flippers to school.




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