Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Hundred Dresses (and Hundred Shirts?)

One of the books that I ordered from Scholastic as a kid was "The Hundred Dresses." I liked it because it was well-written and emotionally evocative, although I didn't at the time relate to the now-stated concept of a "Polish immigrant girl who is mocked by others in her class for being different."

From Wikipedia:

The book centers on Wanda Petronski, poor and friendless Polish-American girl. Her teacher, outwardly kind, puts her in the worst seat in the classroom and she does not say anything when her schoolmates tease her. One day, after Wanda's classmates laugh at her funny last name and the faded blue dress she wears to school every day, Wanda claims to own one hundred dresses, all lined up in her closet at her worn-down house. This outrageous and obvious lie becomes a game, as the girls in her class corner her every day before school, demanding that she describe all of her dresses for them. She is mocked, and her father, Mr. Petronski, decides that she must leave that school.
The teacher holds a drawing contest in which the girls are to draw dresses of their own design. Wanda enters and submits one hundred beautiful designs. Her classmates are in awe of her talent and realize that these were her hundred dresses. Unfortunately, she has already moved away and does not realize she won the contest.


Reading the above description reminds me of what I remembered most about the book --- I could see and feel (and even smell) that "faded blue dress" that the main character wore. It smelled like and was faded by the sun, was often warm off the line when she put it on. And I saw and felt the colors of the character's drawings of dresses, and had my favorites among them... And, strangely at the time for an 8-year-old, I felt a sense of loss when the character disappeared.

This entry was initially going to be only about: Look at all the shirts I have now in 2015! When I was in New York City back in 2008 et al, all I had for the summer were maybe 3 black shirts and 3 white shirts to my name! I've got a bunch of summery shirts now, with shoes to match. (I also, back in NYC, had a couple of pairs of black loafers and one clay-colored pair of loafers to my name for summer.)

The city itself was so intellectually and aesthetically glamorous for me that I didn't always feel bereft, clothes-wise, because I was too busy soaking everything in and worrying about finding work. I would, though, occasionally bemoan my loss of something pretty and light to wear on a summer's day. (Winter up north, I'd spent money on: 3 new coats and 2 pairs of weather-proof boots once I'd arrived. Plus numerous scarves and hats sold by street vendors for about $10 each. I never felt out of place in New York in the winter.)

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