In 8th grade I took Home Ec. If you were a girl, you had to. That’s where I met Cathy Rye, so at least one good thing came out of it.
We made brownies in Home Ec. But did we even get to sample them? No. The bell rang before the oven timer buzzed, so Mrs. Witherspoon got to take them home.
We spent a week on hairstyles, like the best way to wear your hair if you wore glasses. (Soft and somewhat fluffy, but brushed back from the face.)
But the most dismal Home Ec project of all was making shifts. We had to buy a Simplicity pattern at Woolworth’s and a couple yards of fabric at Jo-Ann’s. When spring arrived, there would be a fashion show in the auditorium and we would model our shifts.
My mom gave me some money. I bought the Simplicity pattern. But then before I could get out the door, I spent the rest of my money on record albums and candy. The Doors, Revolver, and some Butterfingers and Raisinets.
When I got home I dug around in the basement and found an oilcloth/thin linoleum rug rolled up, one that used to lie under my sister’s crib. So I took that to Home Ec along with my Simplicity pattern. The rug was glossy on one side—I liked that! and it was decorated with multicolored dachshunds. The only problem was that I broke one sewing machine after another because––well, I don’t think our sewing machines were made for linoleum. I ended up having to finish the armholes by hand with yarn, and to punch holes with an ice pick for every stitch.
The day of the fashion show I wore my favorite pink and chartreuse knee socks and borrowed my cousin’s red patent leather heels. I slid the shift over my head. It didn’t have a nice drape; it was more like a tube. But it was shiny. When it was my turn to go, Cathy buckled Sigmund’s collar with the little red heart around my neck and led me down the runway to the tune of “Good Day Sunshine."
On my report card I ended up with an F in Home Ec but it was easy to change that F to a B before my mom saw it.