A Grandparent’s Voice: Grandma wears tennis shoes


She wore a dress and apron most of her life as did mothers before her. She had one Sunday dress that had seen many a Sunday. Under that Sunday dress she wore a girdle. Her life was not easy and fashion and comfort were not her choice. There were standards to be upheld.

I remember when Mom finally got her first pair of pants with an elastic waist. In fact, I think she probably wore them until they were mere tatters. The apron had disappeared as well as that nasty girdle. Mom found freedom to dress as she liked breaking away from tradition.

When we girls were growing up, we were held tight to that earlier way of thinking. Girdles and garter belts. Dresses or skirts. Pants could be worn under our skirts on cold days at school. For a little farm girl, I thought being a boy might have more benefits….at least in clothing line. I remember well wearing sack dresses and chemise dresses to junior high school. Keds seemed to top off the glam. We wore hose or bobby socks. As little kids, we crawled on monkey bars and swung high on swings. No one cared that the dresses flew up over our noses. No one would even consider that pants might be more appropriate.

Then it happened!!! Free at last!!! Random garters in the junk drawers disappeared. Girdles were buried deep in the back forty. Aprons were put away along with the doilies. Even our permed hair became soft and natural. At last, women had found their time. A time of freedom we had not experienced before. In some ways, I feel that the day we slipped into our jeans and baggy shirts, we discovered a new part of ourselves.

“MeMe, you have on my shoes,” said Emma when I walked into the house.

When the twins come to my house, they invade my closet trying on my shoes. Nolan quickly loses interest going for the cars and trains. Emma on the other hand takes her time trying on several pair. My bright blue and checkered tennis shoes are her favorite. We seem to have similar taste. She might only be three, but already she is sharing MeMe’s wardrobe. My older granddaughters often nab one of my sweaters when they come over and are not ashamed to be in Grammy’s jacket. I would never have been caught dead in my Mom’s clothes although might have played in her heels when Brenda and I dressed up. I like that my girls find no generation gap in my closet.

Skinny jeans, crazy tennis shoes and a long sweater. My hair is natural, no makeup, comfy in my own style and the real me. I want my grandchildren to discover the real ‘them’. It took many women and men to stand up for the rights of women. It took courage to step away from what was in place for generations. We learned to find our own voices, style and more than anything freedom to be who we are. I do not know what my grandchildren will wear in the decades to come. I really do not care. I hope they grow up knowing that they can change the world, they can be different, they can be themselves. I hope that they never judge others and stand up for those who are different.

Yes, Grandma wears tennis shoes. They might be just shoes…..but I think they are a whole lot more.


By Pamela Loxley Drake

Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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