My sister Frances is thirteen years older than me. She is the oldest girl in our family and I am the youngest. My Mom called her “Sis”and our mom relied on Frances to help take care of the younger ones.
Now my mother loved clothes and jewelry, but didn’t really dress up all that much around the house. Still, she wore nice everyday clothes and pretty much wore dresses until she got older. I remember playing in her heels and in one or two dresses of hers. Mom had some jewelry, but not really any that she would let us play with. While my mother loved her red lipstick and rouge as they used to call it, she never really had much in the way of eye makeup or nail polish. My sister Frances on the other hand, did.
I always looked up to Frances. and still do. When I was about seven and she was about twenty, I thought was the most glamorous person alive. She hadn’t yet married and still lived at home. She had a job, and with her extra money, she bought fantastic clothes, jewelry and makeup.I remember watching her get ready for her dates and I couldn’t wait to be just like her. This was in the early seventies, when miniskirts and elephant leg pants were in style. I remember I was fond of a pair of jeans she had that had embroidered flowers at the bottom. She had a purple velvet miniskirt, flowey dresses and white boots to go with them. She used to have a long necklace made out of different colored glass beads. Oh and the makeup! Eyebrow pencils, all colors of lipstick, mascara, brushes, and eyeshadow. The eyeshadow alone was a seven year old girl’s dream! all types of little cases with colors beyond my imagination. It was just like my crayons!
I would sneak into her room when she was gone to work and put on that one long beaded necklace. Then I would don myself with a different array of her clothing. I would put on her shoes, high heels or the funky cluncky heeled ones. Then lastly, I would go to her makeup stand and carefully apply her eye shadows and liner to my eyes. I was particularly partial to her green shadow, so that was my first choice. Then I would put on her blush and finish it all off with her pink lipstick. I would look in the mirror and think, “yep, i look like Frances!” I thought I was something, in her lovely clothes all dressed up for my pretend“date” that took place in her room too, complete with my tea set and imaginary boyfriend.
She could always tell when I had been in her clothes and makeup, and even though she scolded me and told me not to bother it anymore, my love of her things was more potent than my ability to obey her wishes. She would compel my mom to keep me out but somehow I managed to get in there once a week or so. Maybe my mom was glad I wasn’t in her things anymore!
Frances was, and still is, an excellent artist. She had a powder blue notebook of all her drawings and paintings. Another favorite thing to do was to sneak into her room, find the notebook and carefully look at her drawings. The cover of the notebook she kept them in had an image of Dick Clark with the logo, “American Bandstand” along the front. She loved drawing people and animals. My favorite was a drawing of Lassie’s face. She, like our mother, loved music and could sing and dance and it was so much fun watching as she pranced around the house to a new song on the record player.
Looking back now, I am sure I was a big annoyance to her, but she took it all in stride and after a little while, she even bought me my very own makeup and my first set of water colors to paint with. Well, today, I’m no artist,can’t draw a straight line, but thanks to her, I can draw on a mean eyeliner and do wonders with shadow.
Thank you Frances! I love you!