Hand me downs were a part of my life growing up. All the families we knew passed along gently worn clothing from the older kids to the younger ones.
As I was the oldest in my family, I got stuff from cousins who got stuff from their older siblings and so on.
After being used by two or three other kids for a year or two each, the pants I eventually inherited could have been as old as me.
The “gently worn” moniker became more like, “not much left.”
But my mom would patch and sew, shorten and take in the waist to make them fit and workable for one more year or until a new batch of new used clothing would come my way.
The parts of the jeans that took the most abuse naturally, were the knees.
This would be resolved by ironing on patches made of some kind of pressed asphalt material that would once again allow the pants to stand on their own.
If those four inch square patches were attached to the outside, it was obvious they were patched. When put on the inside they weren’t so obvious but the abrasions to my knees were.
New stuff was for the start of school. Usually a pair or two of jeans. You know, the kind that could be heard walking down the hallway.
Denim was heavy duty in those days with double stitched seams, and the rivets on the pockets would lacerate your hands if you weren’t careful.
The waist as usually one or two sizes too big and was “taken in” by sewing a folded over portion on either side so they wouldn’t fall down.
Cuffs were always folded up twice, waiting for the inevitable growth spurt which quickly surpassed the length, resulting in a high-water look.
Pants and I haven’t been a good fit for many years now.
I still have some like new 34 inch waist slacks hanging in the closet, anxiously waiting for me to lose twenty or thirty pounds.
The length stays the same but the waist (on the pants) for some reason, contracts.
I had gotten a pair of brand new expensive (well over $20) jeans as a gift which promptly shrank in the closet after only one or two wearings.
Then, one day on a whim I tried them on again.
Wow I must be losing weight.
I promptly went to show Sue how much waist room there was and in fact, these were too big for me now.
She quietly explained that the ones I once had were given to Goodwill and replaced by another pair of a more fitting size.
“A 40 inch waist? What am I going to do with pants of that size?”
“Don’t worry,” she replied. “You’ll grow into ’em.”
Back in ’67