“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

8.30.2009

high school, clothes, music, freedom

And just how much fun is this skirt on a Saturday night in Texas?

Cute, cute, cute.

It reminds me of a skirt I use to borrow from my friend Soozi way back in high school in Tucson. Soozi was one of those girls who never blended in with the crowd - curly, curly hair, wild clothes, pale white skin, kewpie doll face, and I loved her dearly. Neither of us really blended - I was tall and wore short short dresses above 4" wedgie shoes - pale taupe suede with straps that I would wind around my ankles & lower legs before tying. Never in a bow - that was just not the thing - I'd just tie them and let the bit of strap left over dangle oh-so-casually next to my foot. I also owned a pair of brown suede boots - sweet little 3" heels with a bit of a concave curve on the back; they laced up the front - not in and out of eyelets, but around these little black metal things (I have no idea what they are called), and they ended mid calf. We all had handmade leather sandals - we'd catch a ride downtown to Sixth Street to this fabulous old store that at one time must have been a thriving department store - dark wood floors & stairs, huge front windows - but was now a store run by some hippie guy making shoes & purses. He'd trace around our feet and we'd describe how we wanted the straps to go, and a week or so later they'd be ready and we were the coolest! And those purses! We'd tell him, he'd make 'em. Suede or leather, but always, always with lots of fringe - the longer the better. Cool, I tell you. Cool. We shopped for white peasant blouses down in that area near the university - one store light & airy, full of gold-covered books by Kahlil Gibran next to books about spirit photography, Cat Stevens playing on the stereo, pale girls with braids behind the counter, pamphlets about Hinduism and Sufism free for the asking. Down the road, another store, smelling of patchouli incense, dark inside, all red & electric blues, glowing yellows and greens, Mountain blasting on their stereo. They sold gypsy skirts and I remember my friend Laura bought a thin red cotton shirt, colorful embroidery on the sleeves and at the neck. Backtracking down the street, we'd shop the Salvation army on the corner, then cross one more block to the Army/Navy store for jeans. Everyone who was anyone wore those Navy jeans. Low cut to leave our bellies showing, bell bottoms - they came in different colors. We had tons. Also Levi's, although I will say right here & now that Levi's have never fit me well - I am long waisted and back then I had a smaller waist with a behind behind me, and Levi's just didn't fit and still don't, but I'd wear a pair every once in a while anyway - not the zipper ones, always the button fly ones, the 501s. Had to be cool. We wore men's pocket t-shirts tucked in - black and dark green, blue, white, and even flip flops. Short short cutoffs - short enough so that the front pocket was longer than the length of the shorts, halter tops, no bras. We were cool. We'd get great seats for all the concerts and saw everyone who was anyone, and some who were no one yet but on their way. Rory Gallagher, Traffic, Ten Years After, Jethro Tull, Alice Cooper, Jimi Hendrix & the Doors back when I was in 8th grade, Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Johnny Winter, Delaney & Bonnie, Leon Russell, Deep Purple, etc., etc. After graduating from high school I saw Bruce Springsteen in a small theater that held 3000 people; my boyfriend and I had never heard of him, but were talked into going by our ex-New Jerseyite neighbors. Thank you again to them. I had first row seats for Elvis Costello and after the show while waiting for my ride home, Costello's bus saw me, stopped, and I was asked to get on board, to party with them. I saw Willy deVille for the first time and he stole my heart away - his girlfriend was the first person I'd ever seen in person with a pierced nose. Years later I had a boss here in Texas, the then curator of the art museum here, also a big deVille fan, ask me if Willy looked as unhealthy as he sounded.

Oh yeah. Fabulous!

8 comments:

  1. awesome. awesome. awesome! wish i lived in that era.. something about your generation is so legendary... maybe my favorite artists will be legends someday and i can say i saw them from the front row. oh to be so cool.
    we 20 somethings adore that generation and i am awed to hear stories like this.. so. honestly. cool. ever seen "lords of dogtown?" "almost famous?" that's how i imagine it.

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  2. We must be close in age. The clothes and music you describe are right out of my bedroom circa 1974. I had the 4" wedgies, the paisley halter top, the low slung bellbottoms and the Cat Stevens album (played Wild World a million times). Thank you for stirring some interesting memories this evening.

    Did you get Springsteen's autograph?

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  3. I know it well. I will be 55 in December. The fringe leather, concerts every week, rock fests in the summer...It was a TIME. And I love the swirling skirts paired with cowboy boots that were practically a uniform for me in New Mexico...

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  4. I remember well...
    Cat Stevens, now Yusuf Islam, has a new album out, Roadsinger.

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  5. Amazing description of a time I remember well. I was a little kid watching my older brother and sister living the COOL life you describe so gorgeously here. When I got old enough, though, in the early 80's, I went to see as many of those great bands as I could--Tull, the Dead, Allman Brothers--and I wore my father's buckskin coat with the long, long fringe. This post was a huge pleasure to read. I love the details about your shoes--just perfect.

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  6. i was there...from what I can remember...tee hee

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  7. i loved these memories. pierced nose~ bliss.

    i adore the fact, you took me away tonight.
    xoxo

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  8. Oh man, I think I missed my generation. I absolutely adore all those clothes, to the extent that in high school (late 90's for me) I dredged up items from the closets of all my relatives and wore them... My dad had these terrific plaid bell bottoms that I loved more than any other item of clothing on the planet. Sadly, I don't fit into any of those things anymore, but that's still where my heart is. And that skirt is lovely, by the way. I also really enjoyed your story about Little Earl. If I had a bird, I think I'd do that... I love weird, quirky things.

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