Today I wanted to go back to Dark Corner for a story about bonnets and barefeet. Oh yes, bonnets. So if you thought that bonnets were reserved for little girls in the “Little House on the Prairie” days then obviously you never met my Grandma Lillie! She was a woman ahead of her time as Grandma Lillie believed that girls and women should not expose their skin to the sun too long. Today we know that overexposure is harmful to our skin and could lead to sun cancer. Maybe Grandma Lillie did not know the medical reasons but she told us a suntan made you look like a farmhand and wrinkled your skin like a prune! Protection from the sun is where the bonnets came in. Each year Grandma Lillie sat down at her old Singer pedal sewing machine and crafted bonnets for herself and her three granddaughters.
We had to wear the bonnets when we went outside in the sun. Well, we were supposed to anyway. Thankfully, we did not have to wear shoes and by the end of the summer our feet were tough as nails. It was hard to put shoes on every day to go to school after a barefoot summer. As to the bonnet mandate I think my cousins followed instructions much better than I did because as soon as I was out of Grandma Lillie’s line of sight the bonnet came off! Oh how I detested wearing that hot bonnet on my head. It was itchy and the long sides made you feel like you had blinders on. A bonnet also made catching grasshoppers or minnows difficult.
However, I always had a plan and when I removed the bonnet I tied it up in a tree so I could retrieve it on my way back to the house. I will admit over the years a few of those bonnets stayed tied in the trees. Improvising with bonnets made good pirate or Indian flags during mock skirmishes with my brothers and cousins. Today I wish I had kept at least one of the bonnets that Grandma Lillie made for me. They say hindsight is 20/20! She put a lot of effort into those bonnets because she loved us. Thankfully, my cousin did keep one of her bonnets. The photo above is one of Grandma Lillie’s homemade bonnets and when my cousin showed it to me a couple of months ago it brought back a lot of memories. Lovely memories of a simple and carefree childhood. Life was and is good!