A Gift Of Love
One cold Saturday morning in the winter of 1939, while we were living on 11th Street in Philadelphia, my father asked if I’d like to go somewhere with him.
“Where?” I asked, “How far is it?”
He laughed. “You ask too many questions,” he said, “We are going where we can get some clothing.”
“What kind of place,” I asked, “A store?”
“No, it’s a church and you don’t have to pay for things there. They’re free.”
“What are we going to get?” I asked excitedly, “Will I be getting something?”
“No,” my mother said, “Your father will be looking for a heavy winter coat for himself.”
Even though I was only six, I knew that it was hard for my father to get work in those days of the Great Depression and he had to walk outside a lot while he was looking for a job. So I said, “No matter what the weather is like, you need a coat Daddy, let’s go!”
We walked down the street and Daddy held my hand as I skipped along beside him. Soon we came to the church where there was a long line of people waiting to get in. The line went down some stairs and through a doorway where there was a lady handing out tickets. Everyone got one ticket that was good for one piece of clothing. She gave Daddy one ticket and I hoped Daddy would be able to find a good coat for himself.
It was a very big room, or so it seemed to a little girl, filled with tables piled high with clothes. As we walked around the room I saw a hat that I thought was just the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It was a knit hat with flaps that tied under your chin and covered your ears, but the best part was the two yellow wool pigtails that were attached to the back.
I picked it up and carried it around with me. My Daddy looked down at me holding the hat in my two small hands, clutching it to my chest, and he smiled at me. I’m not sure if he couldn’t find a coat for himself or not but he got the hat for me with our one ticket. Before we left he put the hat on my head and tied it under my chin. As we walked down the street on our way home I would shake my head so the yellow pigtails would bounce around. I was so proud.
Daddy looked down at me and said, “You look so beautiful Dorothy Lee, in your new hat.”
When we got home my mother was displeased and angry with my father. She was the practical one. She said, “You should have gotten a coat for yourself instead of that silly hat for her!”
It was a gift of love from a father who couldn’t give much to his little daughter in those hard times. He gave up a winter coat for himself to get a silly little hat for his little girl.
I loved that hat as I did my Daddy.