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Thursday, March 4, 2010

One of Life's Embarrassing Moments

An email I received from a friend earlier today caused me to take a stroll down memory lane this evening. A statement at the end of the email said something about breaking elastic and having your panties falling down around your ankles if you didn't forward the contents of the email. My grandmother had her own version of breaking elastic and it had nothing to do with friendship or email.

You see, my grandmother had nine children and money got very, very tight when my grandfather lost his coal trucking business and his ability to make a living for the family came to a screeching halt. He did what he could to make ends meet but with nine children there was never any money left over to be spent on luxury items.

My grandmother made do with what she had for as long as humanly possible. She learned to stretch a meal in ways I don't even like to think about. For the longest time she sewed clothes for the children to wear and made repair after countless repair on every dress, blouse, sock, and anything else the family was wearing. Finally, her sewing machine wore out and everything had to be sewn or repaired by hand. When the elastic in her undergarments started to lose their grip, she began using a safety pin to keep them snug on her waist.

One beautiful sunny day, as her story went, she walked three of her nine children to the nearest grocer (almost two miles away) to purchase food staples. She always left the oldest child at home to watch over the younger children and took the next three oldest with her to help carry the bags of groceries. Only the necessities needed for the kitchen were purchased and the girls knew it would be a much longer walk home than it would be to get to town. On this day, just as she and the children stepped out of the store, all carrying arms full of bags containing flour, sugar, beans, lard, etc., my grandmother felt a snap against the skin at her waist. Then she felt a slight prick as the open end of the safety pin pushed into her hip.

There was no where to set the bags of groceries down and the children walking in front of her had no idea of what was going on behind them. My grandmother felt her panties sliding over her hips and she tried to squirm around to keep them in place with no luck. Within seconds the panties were down around her ankles and the only thing she could think to do was to simply step out of them and continue walking.

As luck would have it, the three girls started to grow weary from the weight of the bags and their pace became slower and slower. Before long a man and woman who attended church with my grandmother walked up behind her and the girls. The gentleman took the heaviest of the bags from my grandmother before moving forward to talk with the girls and help to lessen their load. His wife, with a face red with anger, started to talk to my grandmother. "Okie, did you see the panties some Jezebel had the audacity to leave laying right there on the side of the road where decent families have to walk? I'm telling you, there is no telling what goes on after dark in these parts. I surely won't have my Albert out here to catch sight of such goings on!"

My grandmother said he could feel her face and neck flush with embarrassment. She didn't dare tell the woman that it was not a Jezebel that dropped her panties. It was good old church attending Opal who dropped her drawers because she didn't have any elastic! After that, as I understand it, she used two safety pins to hold up her undergarments at all times!

© Dianna Doles Petry


  1. Embarrassing but quite entertaining in your retelling!

    I love the word Jezebel, tho' I didn't always. When I was a teen and would fix myself up before going out with friends, the last thing my Mother would say when I was ready to head out the door was, "You look like a Jezebel, Ruth Anne! Get back in here and wipe that black and blue stuff off your eyes before I beat you black and blue!"

    Thanks for the memory, I think..:-)

  2. Dianna, this is truly a wonderful story, however, embarrasing for your grandmother. I must say, I love this story.


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