By MARJORY DIEHL
Special to the OBSERVER
This is the story of the smoking jacket.
Actually, there were two. My father got one and my Uncle George got the other and they were just alike. I guess it was hard for Mother and Aunt Bess to find a really, really spectacular Father's Day present for their husbands. They were young and foolish.
The year was 1924 and Rudolph Valentino was making every woman's heart beat a little faster. Mother and Aunt Bess decided to find a spectacular gift for this special day.
I was 4, my cousin Janice was 6, and we all went shopping. I don't know which men's store got the business. All I do know is that such a nice man with hair under his nose thought it was a wonderful idea. He talked them into getting the whole outfit! The jackets were so pretty! Janice and I touched the soft silk and almost died with the luxury of it.
And there was a hat! Shaped like a tin can, covered in the soft material and decorated with a bunch of string. The man said it was a fez with a tassel.
Mother bought a water pipe the man with hair on his face said my daddy would want and Aunt Bess got the same thing for Uncle George, except bigger, since she had more money.
We could hardly wait for Father's Day to come and I promised not to tell, but it was the hardest thing I ever did. I knew where Mother hid the big package and I checked several times a day to see if it was still there. When my father came home in the evening he would find me sitting on the floor in front of my closet door, hugging my Raggedy Ann and humming "Jesus Loves Me," which I'm sure he did.
If I could have counted to more than four, I would have. Mother was nice but she put her finger across her lips and shook her head, and finally Father's Day arrived. We had a beautiful, warm Sunday and that made it even nicer. I woke up really early on the wonderful day. No one else was up and the house was very quiet, and I knew better than to get out of bed all by myself, so I waited and waited and waited.
Finally I heard Mother go to the kitchen to heat the waffle iron. We had to have breakfast and get dressed and comb our hair and brush our teeth, and finally Mother took the packages out. There were three of them, the smoking jacket, the water pipe and the hat from me. I even put my name on the box and I was very proud.
My father opened the box with my name on it first and he looked at the hat and he held it for a minute and turned it around and he touched the thing made of string that hanged off the side and he looked at Mother. She nodded and he said, "Thank you very much, Marjory." When he put it on his head, he was very beautiful and my face almost cracked with smiling. I was so proud!
Then he opened the pipe thing and he didn't know what to do with it. Mother laughed and when he opened the big box, he laughed, too, and he put it on and gave my mother and me great big hugs. He was so pretty and I was proud, almost to bursting.
Later the whole family got together. My grandmother cooked our special dinner and my daddy and Uncle George put on their new outfits and put water and tobacco in the pipes and everybody had schnapps. Daddy kissed me on the nose. After dinner, my cousin and I got under the dining table to play with our paper dolls and I said, "My daddy is the prettiest daddy in the world!" And Janice pulled my hair and hit me in the eye and said he was not! Her daddy was prettier! I cried and Mother came and got me and we went home so I could have a nap and I knew my Daddy was really the prettiest, because my mother told me so.
Marjory Diehl is a Brocton resident. Send comments on this column to firstname.lastname@example.org