The Five Dresses
Stella mail-ordered all of the materials to keep the children properly dressed and the house decorated with cheerful curtains and slip covers. She used mainly the "Dupuis" and Eaton catalogues. The arrival of each new edition was a welcome event. She used a treadle sewing machine, and she kept it pretty busy.
The time arrived for all five of the girls to go to the mainland to make their "First Communion". Stella spent many long hours making five identical snow white dresses for their big day. They were little fantasies of frills and lace. It was a very proud day for George and Stella when the girls crossed over to the mainland to have Father Delagarde give them their First Holy Communion with the other children. Stella felt that the many hours she had spent making those dresses was well worth it. That day was so happy for Stella, that she would remember it as a proud day all her life. On her last Mother's Day, six daughters and her granddaughter and constant companion, Cathy, had spent the day with her, eating and reminiscing. As Beatrice, Louise, Lydia, Terry and Pauline were leaving her home, she turned to me and said "Look at them. They look as nice as they did the day they made their First Communion". She was eighty- nine years old, and she still remembered that day as a special one in her family's life.
Terry, being the youngest of the five, would inherit all of the white First Communion dresses. Naturally, they were not going to be packed away in a trunk, and never again be worn. They were perfectly good to wear, and besides, they were so pretty. Terry, though, was not too thrilled that she must grow through five dresses that were identical, no matter how pretty they were. Once, when Stella was at a neighbour's house, Terry was playing with George's ink and pen. She accidently spilled the bottle of ink all over the front of her white dress. She very calmly cleaned up the mess on the table and floor. As for the dress, she removed it, put on another, identical one, and buried the soiled one in the garden. Stella never knew the difference.
George began smoking when he was eight years old. He would see the grownups around him smoke, and wanted to be just like them, so he took up the habit. Having inherited some of his genes, the children naturally wanted to imitate their father, but George and Stella were not as obliging as the grownups that George encountered in his youth. They soon learned that smoking was taboo for them. So, they improvised. They would confiscate brown wrapping paper from the kitchen and they would sneak off into the woods with it. There they would take dried leaves from trees of any kind, crush it and roll it into the paper. Then, with matches that they also sneaked out from the kitchen, they would light up and smoke. Terry once decided to try smoking in the house when Stella was only a few feet away, out in the yard hanging out the wash to dry on the clothesline. Of course, with the amount of wash that Stella had, this could take some time. Terry managed to get everything she needed to roll a smoke together, but she somehow managed to set the kitchen curtains on fire. This time she thought she was really going to get it. Stella had made all the curtains with material that she ordered from Dupuis. She usually ordered her fabric by the bolt. Sure enough, there was lots of the material left. Terry, at the age of about 8, made new curtains for the kitchen window, and had them hanging there when Stella returned. They were very well made, in fact, they were identical to the ones that Stella had made. Stella never suspected a thing.
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