Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, October 27, 2008

Anything be'cept clothes

Anything be'cept clothes. Ah, what a statement. It is the mantra of every child who receives gifts that are what that child needs rather than what that child wants. What child wants clothes? Even if that child's shoes are full of holes, a child would much rather have anything be'cept clothes. (be'cept is except in adult language).

Well, my brother, Mark (John), was the originator of this phrase in our family. Me? I didn't care what I got if it was wrapped and I could tear off that paper and open a box. Maybe it was because I was a girl, and little girls like clothes almost as much as big girls. But not boys, no siree.

My dear, dear brother...what can I say?

Apparently, one year, my brother was given $2 for a birthday gift from our Aunt Francis. Now, back in the 50s, $2 was a fortune to a kid who had next to nothing, and boy was he looking forward to spending that money on himself. And, Aunt Francis was a poor missionary, and we rarely got any gifts from her and Uncle Howard -- not because they didn't want to give us gifts, but we were giving them gifts because they had less than we had.

Anyway, I think Mark had visions of a new fire truck or some such "real" toy (not popsicle sticks). But, no, mom took the money and fled -- straight to the 5 and 10 and bought Mark SOCKS! That dreaded gift that no child wants to receive -- SOCKS! Yikes!

So, when Aunt Annie asked him what he wanted for his birthday a few days after the money for socks event, and not knowing that Aunt Annie had already bought him a new shirt, Mark said, "Anything be'cept clothes."

And that's how that expression caught on in our household. But it didn't matter, whether we wanted anything but clothing, we got clothing anyway. Why? Because we really, really needed new clothes.


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