I very seldom got blue jeans, and only once do I remember having a pair of Levis. I usually wore hand-me-down dress slacks and brogans. This wasn't too much of a problem until I got up old enough to start noticing. And then only when I figured out what all the whispers were about.
But Levis put you in a whole 'nother class! Jeans . . . , well, they was OK, but, they just wasn't cool! I had some other pants that were heavy, but I don't remember exactly what they were. I don't think they were corduroy, but may have been.
One day a cousin of mine who lived in Marmaduke (named for General Marmaduke who fought some civil war battles in the general area), got a pair of his Levis wet. Instead of wearing them until they were dry, he just changed them and threw them on some other clothes. In the humid stickiness of Arkansas, that's a no-no. And the result was they soured and were promptly given away.
Care to take a wild guess as to the recipient? Yep! You guessed it! Yours Truly!
One of the wonderful things about having a lot of Aunts was they were always exchanging clothes for the entire family. All the Aunts were always handing down clothes.
It was a way of life, and I remember how much we ALWAYS appreciated it! There was no one in the whole of our family that considered that in any way a put down, or someone being of lesser class if they wore hand-me-downs. Heck, I will STILL wear hand-me-downs!
But this pair of hand-me-downs were special! They were L E V I S! They were THE pants to have if you were COOL! And I had a pair of em! My very own pair. Button up fly and ever'thing!
Now, I'd noticed a slight peculiar smell when I carried them from the car. But Mom said she'd wash them, and it would be gone and never be noticed. Who was I to argue with Momma? She knew everything!
The day after the jeans got washed turned out to be a typical, wonderful, balmy, hot . . . sunshiny day. I had my cool shirt on, somewhere I'd gotten a hold of a pair of shoes which had taps on the heels, I had on my Levis, and I was stylin'! Hey, I was one cool dude now! I was gonna be part of the "IN" crowd at school now!
But the heat of the day, and the heat of my body, and the heat generated by the overweight of the pants, plus the effort from the heat of me walking to school, well, all that sour in the jeans began to reactivate. By the time I got to school, they were ripe! I didn't think anyone could smell it but me, but I was wrong!
All the kids shyed away from me. The boys laughed and poked fun. The teacher had her usual hateful comments to say, then set me in the back of the room. She then moved the kids a couple of desks away "so the kids could study . . ."
That was the closest I ever came to crying in school. I'd taken some mighty hard whippings with that paddle of old lady Rowtons, and she hurt my backside, more than once. And I never cried, but with that incident, I nearly did.
Out on the playground it was even worse because the kids poked fun without fear of reprisal from the Warden Rowton . . . Not all of the kids, but several of them. Of course I'd always been taught to never fight, and being in a severe dictatorship all my life, I wouldn't hold up for myself.
I just tried to ignore the remarks and play with my cousin Garry Don Dooley. He didn't seem to notice anything was wrong with the pants, (but he was my pal. Everybody in the world needs a pal like Garry Don Dooley).
But I sure did. The longer I wore them, the worse they stunk.
That was one of the lowest days of my life. The lowest point of the day was when the teacher told the class to all take baths and wear clean clothes. The class must have loved it because they all laughed and turned around to look at me.
When class was over that day I walked home with a hurt I'd never known. That was the day I figured out that clothes didn't make the person, but the person made the clothes.
Soon as I got home I changed them Levis for a pair of my other 'lesser' pants. After taking a long bath, I carried them outside and threw them in the fire with which Dad would burn the trash. I saw my dreams of ever being part of the class going up in smoke. It felt like someone had ripped my heart out. That's when I knew that instead of being a part of the class, I was merely someone to poke fun of.
That was when I gave my heart wholeheartedly to God as I wept freely and openly. In my little child view of life itself, I was realizing there was a lot of things I could not have in life.
But I learned I could go to Him with every hurt, tear, problem and victory, and He was always right there to help me through. As a little eight year old, I could pray and He would let His power come over me so strong I'd tremble under it.
That's also when I got the victory over Mrs. Rowton. She could treat me mean and ostracize me in front of the class, even bend me over the desk and light up my tail-lights, but she never got the better of me.
But it was the Levis that caused her to react the way she did that day. And it was because of the Levis that I was forced to turn to a Higher power for for help with a hurt that Momma couldn't fix. That's where I learned that God works in mysterious ways. I was forced to grow up. True, the experience helped me in life, but I'd sure rather not went through it.
Yes, the ordeal put scars on me that would never go away. No, not physical scars . . . Scars and hurts much, much deeper. To this day I despise Levis with the button up fly. They bring back memories I'd rather leave lie somewhere in the deep forgotten corridors of my mind.
But I've never owned another pair of Levis button fly jeans . . .
(back to ol Lady Rowton)