A DEAR friend that I may sue but will not publicly expose now gave me a lovely green shirt for Christmas. A handsome gift. It is not a dress shirt, nor is it the hefty woolen kind we like here in Maine when the thermometer goes down seven clapboards with a sharp snap and the morning is forlorn. It's a comfortable model, ample at the neck and shoulders and adequate at the tail. I was pleased. I said green, but this shirt is a violently green green, much greener than any green at Killarney, and at least th ree greens greener than a sunflower is yellow. For those who like green, this is the green.
I made my Yuletide polites promptly and wrote to my benefactor before I wore the shirt. I might have dallied, because I find the shirt has a fault. When I put the shirt on, first time, it was admired by all, but in the serenity of my beddy-bye preparations I removed it to find that the green didn't all go with the shirt. I stood before my mirror, confronting a vision that seemed to have my build and disposition, but looked like a misplaced leprechaun that belonged in a lush bower of pea vines and other d ewy delights in County Cork on St. Paddy's Day, attended by somebody named Murphy or O'Cassidy. So far soap and other abrasives have not prevailed. I've applied to lead the parade down Fifth Avenue on March 17th.
Chlorophyllated nicely, as I am, I will speak knowingly about fine-quality shirts that do not shed dye and make the wearer proud. I once owned a dozen of the best shirts ever made, and that was long ago. I have mentioned before the "Grammie Curtis" who made her home with us in my days of shining morning face, passing unwillingly to school. She was no grammie to us, but as a needy neighbor widow she came to our house to stay and more than earned her keep and the back chamber by assuming the seneschal duti es of my mother. Mother could use some help, and things went well. We youngsters loved Grammie Curtis, even if at times she irked us by overmanagement. I never did like the way she decided which necktie I should put on.
Except for a "stale loaf" when she wanted to stuff a roasted rooster, my mother never bought any baker's bread. In my youth flour could be had by the barrel, but Mother's pantry had a flour barrel mounted on a swivel under the pantry shelf, and she would buy a hundred-pound cloth bag of baker's clear when needed and the grocer's delivery man would dump it in her barrel with the courtesy due a good customer. Mother would then pull the strings on the bag, wash the square of cotton cloth, and fold it to go on the big shelf in the summer kitchen. Cloth like that came in handy in many ways.
After Grammie Curtis came, something was said about my needing a new shirt to keep me decent in school, and Grammie Curtis sent 25 cents and a two-cent stamp to get a shirt pattern from "Home Comfort" magazine. She then cut out a dozen shirts from the flour-bag cotton from the summer-kitchen supply, and we had a shirt factory in the living room.
Grammie Curtis was an adept seamstress, but until now had dealt with pot holders for the Mizpah Class summer fancy-work sale, maybe some milk strainers, and I remember she made a kind of a shade to dim the sunlight on the begonias by the kitchen sink. Grammie Curtis had huge feet, and for comfort wore lumberman's larrigans, and when she applied herself to the foot treadle on the Singer the windows in the attic, two stories up, would rattle. And shortly I had a dozen of the finest shirts anybody ever wore . The necks were comfortable, the shoulders ample, and the tails adequate. Most of the tails had the words:
but some said:
Mother didn't use Ceresota Flour, but I don't know if she disliked that brand or disliked the cloth.
I assure you the ink used for applying the brand name on a flour bag was given many, many launderings before it faded. It held fast, and my supply of school-day shirts continued to honor Washburn-Crosby and Mr. Pillsbury well after Grammie Curtis no longer lived at our house. If I had some of 'em now, I wouldn't be green.