Most little girls seem to have a celebrity they admire and want to imitate. When I was about eight to ten years old, I wanted to be like Natalie Wood. I saw her in Gypsy and West Side Story, and she was my ideal. I suppose because her hair was brown too. I liked to wear almost white, pearly, pale, pink lipstick and nail polish. I didn’t have pierced ears, so I couldn’t get hoop earrings. I tried to do my hair like hers, as well. That was probably as near to her looks as I could get, but it was fun to try.
I have always felt a special connection to Natalie Wood, and it was reinforced in my mind when I found out she had the same birthday as me, July 20th, except, eighteen years apart.
I don’t remember much about my clothes as a kid. I wore what was given to me. I didn’t really care about clothes until I was fourteen and went to the movies to see Woodstock, with my school friend, Carrie. I’d never seen her outside of school, where we had uniforms. I wore a dress, because you are supposed to dress up when you go out. Carrie was cool. She wore hip hugger jeans with a wide leather belt, a tucked in t-shirt and desert boots. She said she was going for the ‘tomboy’ look.
I hadn’t ever picked out clothes before that. We wore uniforms to Catholic school, my only choice was: which socks to wear. My play clothes came from mystery places. I only knew where I got them if I actually opened a gift, for example, and there was a card saying who gave it to me. I believe most of my clothes were from the thrift store or were hand-me-downs.
I babysat for neighbors many times, at fifty cents an hour, and saved up to buy a pair of Levi’s at Shim’s Army Surplus Store. They sold them for $7.12. They also had Levi’s corduroy jeans in pretty colors. They were more expensive, but I managed to save up enough to buy a burgandy pair.
My cousin, Wendy, often shared her babysitting jobs with me. Sometimes we made 75 cents an hour. That seemed like a lot.
The summer before I started going to public school, to be with Wendy, I saved $68.00. Wendy and I walked to Grey Reid’s and Lerner’s on Virginia St. downtown Reno. (The stores are all further out the edges of town now, and Circus Circus is where those shops used to be.) I bought two pairs of shoes and a few other things. That was also the year public schools started allowing girls to wear jeans, and we could wear hot pants. I had a red and blue-trimmed, corduroy pair of hot pants and a blue top and little red shoes.
There was a Dairy Queen across from Grey Reid’s. We went to get lime slushes, our favorite, for the walk home.
Wendy and I watched TV when we babysat. The shows were Laugh-In and Sonny and Cher or That Girl. They were the influence on what I wanted to wear for everyday, but I had fantasies of wearing medieval gowns or even clothes from the westerns we used to watch. I loved magical shows like Bewitched, Nanny and the Professor and The Wonderful World of Disney. I could imagine wearing outfits from those realms.
I don’t know if I ever put together a really cool outfit; although, I know I was pleased from time to time. Maybe I will still look for those hoop earrings.