ONCE A SMART ASS, ALWAYS A SMART ASS

More nostalgia. I was digging through an old trunk the other day and I came upon a stack of my old embroideries, mostly unfinished. The majority of my finished work got given away as gifts. The completed pieces I still have I’ve posted here on String already, so this stash is in fact my “Chest of Embroidery Horrors,” a precursor to my “Chest of Knitting Horrors.” The first item in my stack was this odd little object, about 4 inches wide by 7 inches tall.

Be it ever so humble, there's n o place like locker.

I doodled it up one weekend while I was in 7th grade (age 12 or so), obviously to hang in my middle school locker, picots and all. There was quite a fad for locker interior decorating among the other girls at Teaneck, NJ’s Benjamin Franklin JHS at the time. They did up elaborate confections of varying degrees of utility using contact paper, ruffles, shelf liner, sweet little color-coordinated pouches and shelves, magnetic mirrors, beads, decorative buttons and the like, trying to out-cheery or out-trendy each other. Many did whole themes in the school’s colors, or paeans to favorite bands or actors. Others copied design tips from hot teen magazines. I suppose it’s not shock to see that this same generation grew up to worship at the shrine of Martha Stewart.

I stitched my sad little sampler partly for fun, and partly to poke fun at the overly elaborate, overly girly, just plain over done lockers of my peers. I don’t remember if the other girls thought much of my embroidered commentary, but I do remember a couple of teachers coming by and asking to see the thing, then convulsing with laughter. And seeing it each day jump-started my mornings with much-needed sarcasm. Subversive stitching in 1968 from a sardonic pre-teen.

As to the various animals and plants on the sampler, there’s no deeper symbolism behind them, except for the cats and the budgie at the bottom. When I was a kid we had a couple of cats. The white one with the black tail was named Pixie. The Manx was Cola, from his rain-soaked tabby color and the Spanish for “tail” – an attribute he lacked. The other tabby and the bird belonged to friends. It happens that my severe allergies disappeared when I went off to college, away from home and the cats. I still miss their antics, but I’ll never live with a cat again. Breathing is much more fun.

I’ll post pix of some of the other pieces. At least one of them also qualifies for the subversive label.


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