This is my mother’s story, which took place in Philadelphia, the city of my birth, in the mid-fifties.

She was shopping with a friend in the busy downtown area, wearing a dress, as did all women of that era.

She was simply walking and chatting when the elastic waistband of her underwear broke and the panties fell down around her ankles.  Without hesitation, Mother stepped out of those tidy whities, took her friend by the arm, and quickly walked in the door of the closest store.

I don’t know how she communicated what happened to her friend….Oh, my God, I dropped my drawers!…or…Would you look at that?…but they laughed so hard they were practically in hysterics.  (Imagine a very confused shopkeeper.)  When they finally composed themselves, the two women left the store.

When she related the story, I assumed Mother would say she picked up the panties and slipped them into her purse.  After all, having lived during the Great Depression, she always took meticulous care of her belongings, mending and repairing as needed.

But I assumed wrong.

Mother didn’t give the unfortunate undergarment a second glance as she and her friend continued down the street.

Which taught me that I didn’t really know my mother at all.

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