When Boys Were Supposed to Wear Dresses

Both children are frowning wearing dresses while Hollis clutches a whip

Sammie Sue Rolen on the right and John Hollis Rolen on the left

In the above picture is my maternal grandfather John Hollis Rolen. He always went by Hollis. On the left in the picture is his oldest sister Sammie Sue, she went by Sammie Sue all her life.

This picture has a few stories behind it. First one that comes to mind was when Aaron my son saw it as a little boy. I explained who the people were, that the little boy on the right grew up to be father to his Granny. He looked confused and asked “Didn’t they know he was a boy?” LOL!

The answer is yes they knew he was a boy but little boys wore dresses until about 5 or 6 then they moved to knee britches. Then when they got to be 12 or so they moved up to long trousers. Was the custom then to which my son replied “I’m sure glad they don’t do that now. People would laugh at ME in a dress.”

I remember Papaw, that’s what I called Hollis, telling me about transferring to knee britches. He father was home and they celebrated by going to the barn and putting one of the dresses on a stick and lighting it on fire. The marched about singing while Lavator, Hollis’s father, waved the burning dress. When they got back into the house Ollie Belle, Hollis’s mother, was irate that they burned a perfectly good dress!

Another story Papaw told was he had a pair of yellow knee britches as one of his first pairs. Early on during the privileged time where he had a boy’s haircut and just moved into knee britches he was playing by the mailbox. The mailman came up on horseback and addressed Papaw as “fine sir.” Which Papaw replied, “It’s me Hollis bet ye didn’t recognize me in my little yaller britches.”

So now back to the story that explains the sour faces in the photo. Ollie Belle, Granny Rolen to me and my mom, said she tried to get them both looking their best for the picture. However, Papaw was mad that they wanted to take away his new whip. Sammie Sue was mad at him for ruining her pretty pictures. Best Ollie Belle could do was get a picture of two pouting children dressed in the best clothes. Oh well what’s a mom to do?

I have to say that pouting boy face carried forward in family genes. It looks just like Aaron did at that age when he pouted. Except we didn’t dress him in dresses. Much to his relief and mine, I’d hate to maintain all that finery in hand washing and ironing.

As always I’d love to hear from ya. You can comment here or reach out to me on Flickr, Twitter, or Google+. Email is always welcome send ’em to marylouiseeklund at either yahoo.com or gmail.com.

Until next time keep your skirts down and a tight hold on that whip!

4 thoughts on “When Boys Were Supposed to Wear Dresses

  1. Hello Mary Louise, WELCOME! Thank you for subscribing to follow my blog. I hope you are inspired, encouraged and enjoy the photos I take. I have read a couple of your post and I look forward to sharing and commenting on future posts.


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