A Page from “The Willy Chronicles”

As I was rummaging among our winter coats the other day looking for something to wear to run errands, I was thinking how winter clothing has changed over the years.

50s pea coatWhen I was young, a hundred years ago, I remember pea coats, knit mittens and galoshes. Gael still has a coat from the ’50’s that must weigh a ton, corduroy with some kind of fur collar. Our first trip to Freeport, Maine to the LLBean store in 1969 when it was on the second floor of an old building with creaky floors, I purchased a great coat which I wore for years and then our oldest daughter took it over. It was heavy, but not as heavy as Gael’s coat.

My mother knitted the kids hats and mittens to match their winter coats and snow pants, and they wore bread bags over their feet, inside their rubber packs to keep their feet dry. Down filled jackets probably had been around for quite a while but they arrived at our house in the 1970’s. Gael still wears one our son discarded, many years ago. It is looking a bit worse for wear and there are feathers everywhere when Gael wears it, but he isn’t ready to give it up yet. It must be on it’s second zipper by now.

LL bean great coatI’m not sure when fleece arrived on the scene, but it changed my way of thinking. Gone is “the heavier, the warmer” phrase and jackets now are light weight and as warm as their predecessors and good for washers and dryers. I have so many heavy sweaters that I hardly ever wear anymore. Were our houses that much colder back when? I can’t part with them, some I spent hours knitting and have fond memories wearing them. I must admit I do really like the fleece jackets, vests, hats and mittens that are hanging on our coat rack. Most of the time they are adequate, for most of our weather and with good heating systems in cars these days, who needs a heavy, bulky coat to drive in.

Winter footwear has changed over the years too. Gone are the days of heavy leather boots. We’ve moved on to lightweight winter shoes, LL Bean boots and Muck shoes. Moriarty (sp?) hats, remember them? We probably have a few still kicking around in back of the cupboard, along with the knit hats and mittens the kids wore many years ago. I just can’t get rid of them yet.

Another kind of coat that we have is the waxed jacket. I bought several of these on one of my trips to England many years ago and they are great. I happened to visit England a few years later in the Fall and picked up liners for the jackets. Queen Elizabeth even has one of these. Hopefully, by the time you read this, you will have put your winter jackets, etc., away, all cleaned and ready for next fall, perhaps with a few moth balls thrown in for good measure. You might even have left a dollar bill in one of the pockets.

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