Dear Auntie Helga,
It was three months after I had played the part of the Daughter of Rosie O'Grady and school was out for the summer. I was packed off on the train to my grandmother's in Canandaigua, New York. I loved riding the train and looking at the scenery. It was much safer for a young boy of 8 to ride as I was watched by the conductors and met by my grandmother at the train station. I was anxious to get to her house and go out to play in the yard and the fields near her house. It was wonderful for a boy to get out of the hot city and be able to enjoy all that the country had to offer. I had completely forgotten the request I had made for my grandmother to bring my dress from the play so that I could wear it. It was the furthest thing from my mind.
I got up that first morning and after quickly eating my breakfast, I was out the door. Grandma warned me to make sure I was home for dinner or I might go to bed without supper. I got caught up in playing with some boys I met in the street and we were climbing trees and playing in the fields. I don't know where the time went but when I got home, I was a half hour late and grandma was not happy. I told her that I forgot the time and proceeded to tell her all of my adventures of the afternoon. She listened attentively as I ate the supper that I was not going to get. When I was finished, grandma forgave me and sent me off to wash up before going to bed. She told me that even though I was late, she still had a nice surprise for me. Once I was out of the tub and dried off I went into the bedroom and there on the bed was a pretty yellow nightgown. I was somewhat shocked and said, "Grandma, am I going to wear that nightie to bed?" "Yes dear," she said, "don't you remember asking grandma to bring your dress from the school play home with her so that you could wear it?" I said, "Oh, I guess that I forgot." Well, grandma didn't. She said, "Over the past few months I've had plenty of time to go shopping for some nice things for you to wear while your with grandma. I got you some pretty nighties, skirts, blouses and a few more pretty dresses for you to wear. I even got you a special Sunday dress for going to Church with Grandma." I didn't want to hurt her feelings but I had kind of changed my mind about wearing the dress but I couldn't tell her. I just thanked her and gave her a hug. She helped me into the nightgown and I went to bed. I had to admit to myself that I really liked the way the nightgown felt on my skin but didn't say anything.
When I arose the next morning, grandma had a matching yellow robe and a pair of fuzzy slippers for me to wear when I went downstairs for breakfast. Grandma was now referring to me as her granddaughter and asked me what name I would like. I stammered and told her to call me whatever name she felt was best. She decided on Patricia because that was Rosie O'Grady's daughter's name. After I had breakfast, Grandma took me upstairs and said, "Okay Patricia, it's time to get you all dressed for the day." She had me remove my robe and gave me a pair of the panties that I had worn in the play. Then we removed my nightgown and she put a slip on over my head, then a ruffled petticoat. She had me put on a cute pair of anklets with pink bows and a pair of black maryjanes. Finally, she went into her closet and was going through the dresses. She said, "Well, Patricia, since you have pink bows on your anklets, I think I'll let you wear this pretty pink satin dress that I got for you just last week." She put it on over my head and then buttoned it up the back. I had to admit to myself that it did look really pretty on me. Finally, after curling my hair to make it more feminine, she tied a pretty pink bow in my hair.
Once I was all dressed grandma was all smiles and told me that I looked really pretty. I asked her what we were going to do for the day. I knew I wasn't going to be climbing any trees in this outfit. She said, "We're going to visit a few lady friends of grandma's so that I can show off my pretty little granddaughter dear." I was nervous but not frightened. I remembered my mother taking me around to the neighbors before I was in the play and they all remarked what a pretty little girl I was. It was the same thing only none of these ladies knew me. We must have visited six women and all of them made compliments to both my grandmother and me. They remarked at what a pretty girl I was and what wonderful taste my grandmother had in dresses. Grandmother said, "Patricia has about ten more pretty dresses at home and she'll be able to wear them all this summer. I also got her some pretty skirts and blouses for casual wear."
The summer went really well and I knew that when my parents came near the end of August, Patricia would be back in the closet with all her pretty dresses. It really was wonderful. Grandma's friends came to visit and I was taken shopping, to lunch and to Church. I began to feel that I was really a girl and I absolutely loved it.
When my parents arrived, my mother took me aside and asked if I had a good time. I told her that it was the best summer ever. Then she said, "So, were you a good girl for grandma?" Then I knew that mother knew everything so I didn't know just what to expect when I got home. I knew that my father knew nothing about what went on but I felt that my mother was going to indulge me when we got home.
A great deal went on in the coming years and I will relate that to you in another letter.
Thank you for your letter Kathleen. What a wonderful time you spent with your grandmother, too bad more little boys don't have such an opportunity. I'm sure our readers are looking forward to the next installment of your story.