My Mother’s Velvet Pants


My mother was a wonderful person. She was a very talented artist and cut from a different mold, as all artists are. She was also a beauty contest winner and had won the title of Miss Brooklyn even though I never knew what year (She won a trophy and had the year removed so no one would know).

She had her nutty ways, some of which I inherited. She once went into a Brooklyn deli asking for kosher ham and realized the enormity of her error only after Mr. Flanagan from behind the deli counter advised her that there was no such thing. She also once changed her girdle in the middle of a tour of the Roman coliseum, but that is not only another story, it also doesn’t compare to her encounter with an innocent pair of black velvet pants.

She had bought the pants at Loehmann’s, her favorite store, and they were incredibly beautiful crushed black velvet. My mother had a great figure and they looked good on her, but the elastic around the waist was not as tight as it should have been.

We took the train from Brooklyn to Manhattan to go shopping for the holidays. It was a cold December day and we were headed to Bloomingdale’s drawn by special advertised sales. After about an hour of joyous holiday bustle bustle, we decided we had enough and that it was time to return home with the spoils. We were crossing the street; I believe it was Lexington Avenue, when everything happened.

At first, we didn’t notice anything, even as a bus driver was desperately honking his horn. We didn’t know the honking was directed at us until I turned to my mother and noticed that her garter belt and stockings were visible through her jacket and her velvet pants were at first nowhere to be seen. They were in the wrong place, namely; at her knees and moving quickly southward. The pants, they were a-sliding and soon hit the pavement before we could even blink an eye.

We waddled to the curb where my mother who was not only freezing but her face was a bright beet red as she desperately pulled up her pants and held them with her gloved hands, after placing her two shopping bags on the sidewalk.

The bus driver passed us and we didn’t know whether to nod thank you or put on masks. We were both so embarrassed. I searched my bag for a safety pin which, believe it or not, I somehow found. I helped her pin the pants back up about her waist at least enough so they wouldn’t fall down, but she hung on to them on the train the whole ride home.

It was years before we could laugh about this, and she gave away the pants to the neighborhood thrift store with a sign attached to them with that same safety pin that read: “Wear at your own risk.”

They say memories are the sifted joys and pains of our past. While some may be good and others bad, most of mine are  filled with all my mother’s zany escapades, which to this day make me smile. They made me what I am today; a very odd soul with a sense of humor that has sustained my life’s experiences.

(photo courtesy of Menz11stock/

Smiles For All