Monday, December 11, 2006

MY ARGYLE SOCKS CAPER, 1951


I graduated from High School in 1950 and was more than ready to head off to college in the Fall. I had received a four year scholarship from the local Women’s Club and this enabled me to choose a school outside of my immediate area of Wellesley, Mass.

I decided to go to Upsala College in East Orange, N.J. and the scholarship paid for tuition, books and board. I appreciated this immensely but I still needed money for clothes, trips and all the extra curricular things that college entails.

I secured a part-time waitress job in the local “greasy spoon”. It was mainly frequented by students so you can imagine how sparse the tips were...but, I loved the ambience. It was a great place to meet the athletes and the upper-class guys and the music played non-stop from the Juke Box. I admit it, I was a Freshman with stars in her eyes. I could care less that I only made minimum wage...this was college and I was in the big time finally.

I was pretty frugal and I did save what little money I earned, but it was becoming apparent that I’d need another job if I ever wanted to get ahead. It was at this point that I met a wonderful “older” student who was in college with the aid of the GI Bill. He ate most of his meals where I worked and we became friends.

Larry was a fairly sloppy dresser, as most of the returning GI’s were, but he took great pride in his colorful Argyle socks. We used to kid him about them, especially when he told us that they were hand-made by his mother. But, he didn’t care. He loved them and showed them off whenever he had the chance.

Now, Larry was very popular and I noticed that a bunch of the guys were eyeing those socks and one even had the nerve to ask him if his mother would knit a pair for him. Suddenly a light bulb went off in my head. I could knit those socks ! I had done a lot of knitting in High School and all I needed was the wool and the needles.

I talked it over with Larry and he was happy to be my agent. We decided on a price (which I think was $6 a pair) and before I knew it I had orders for over 10 pairs of socks. I used my meager savings to buy the materials and I was off and running.

Of course I had to keep up my studies or I would lose the scholarship so I devised a plan that worked real well. I had two classes a day that did not entail taking notes. I made sure that I chose a seat near the rear of the class and, after propping a big book up in front of me, I would knit away to my heart’s content.
Before I knew it I had the 10 pair finished and was ready to start on a new batch.

This really turned into a very lucrative little business for me and I had Larry to thank for that. We never actually dated but he did tell his mother about me and when she came to visit we all went out for dinner. She wanted to meet and exchange patterns with the girl of the “Argyle Socks Caper”, as her son had so aptly named it.

11 Comments:

Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Two classes sans notes? How weird, but it worked out well for you. You really knew how to sock it to 'em.

10:52 PM  
Anonymous Alan G said...

Great story Ginnie....

The entrepreneur spirit rises to the top again to conquer the moment. I wonder, by the way, if it is time for those lovely socks to make a long-awaited comeback?

4:27 AM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Another great story, Ginnie! And what an enterprising young woman you were! Love those socks and they sure were popular back then. I remember my mom knitting them. I agree with Alan...I think they need a come-back. So get those needles clicking, Ginni.

5:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog brought back the memory of a gal I knew in college who was always knitting argyle socks. I Don't remember if she sold them. Great idea.

I lived in East Orange for a short time when I was young and went to college in Newton, MA.

6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL! Awesome! What a good idea!

It is hard to imagine those "noteless" classes though! Yikes!


Peace,

~Chani

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ginnie,

This story speaks of another time. People of your generation really were willing to work. My mom, dad, aunts and uncles all have stories like that.

Sweeping generalization: Much to my dismay, the kids in my life lack the determination or the need that drives really big projects like that. They are willing to work, but only for short periods. They want to be given the money.

Maybe the instant gratification of credit cards and the internet make it less palatable?

11:36 AM  
Anonymous colleen said...

I love this story. You were very resourceful! I sold jewelery once in a similiar way.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Maya's Granny said...

Great story. I also waited tables while in college, and made ear rings for extra money.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

Thanks everyone for the comments. As I recall the two classes where I didn't have to take notes were taught by the same Professor who loved to hear himself talk...one was a poetry course (and he read to us endlessly) and the other was a drama class...we did our memorizing out of class and then he would have us "perform"
...mostly I watched the others.

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I adore this post, and your blog! JM

8:23 AM  
Blogger tournesol said...

I love this story too. I agree with "potato print" about most kids today. Everything is too easy, instant. If it takes any time, they aren't usually interested. I see it with my own kids too often.

8:07 PM  

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