Your Stories: The Private Life of a Dress
Linda Kustka, UW-Extension professor emerita and retired Wisconsin 4-H Youth Development specialist, shared an amazing piece of Wisconsin 4-H history over the weekend. This story is part of her family legacy in 4-H, from a 4-H scrapbook created by Linda’s mother, Violet Pedersen Kustka, a 4-H’er in Manitowoc County in the 1930s.
The Private Life of a Dress
After hanging in a department store for half the summer I was transferred to a rack, marked with a large “Bargain” sign. A lady came in looking for a “size 44.” Finally she bought me, although she said she did not care for the color very much.
Upon arriving at my new home, I was displayed to the rest of the family. Several sarcastic remarks were passed, and I was hung up in the closet. I hung there and hung there, until one day last fall the boy in the home wore me to the Freshman Initiation Exercises at High School. He hurt my pride very much by wearing me back-in-front.
The back to the closet I went again. After another age of darkness, the girl in the home took me out. “At least there ought to be enough material here,” she said. She ripped every seam open and said mean things about poor workmanship. She took off every piece of bias fold and cut off large pieces at the sides and at least a quarter of my length. Such rough treatment! I decided girls were even worse than boys. I was hopeless of ever having a decent shape or appearance again.
After many hours of patient planning, stitching, fitting, and much “trying on,” I emerged like a new being. Then I got my first washing and ironing and I took on a pretty nice appearance and was not ashamed to go to the Fair. All my seams were nicely finished now and I was as neat on the inside as I was on the outside, all because this girl belonged to a 4-H Club and had learned to do things well.
Source: Violet Pederson Kustka, former 4-H member, Manitowoc County; ca. 1930s