The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

A New Suit for High School Graduation

By Boyd S. Ray © 1996

Issue: Spring, 1996

There wasn't any money to buy presents when I graduated from high school in 1935. I don't remember getting any presents. But my Daddy did manage to give me a twenty dollar bill about two weeks before the big day. He told me to go buy myself some clothes to wear when I graduated. Boy Oh Boy! But was I happy.

You didn't find a suit for a young man in any of the stores in Mountain City, Tennessee at that time. It was necessary to go to one of the larger towns nearby for most clothes. So the next Saturday I got my friend, Dean Walsh, who was also graduating, to go with me to Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee.

We hitch-hiked starting early in the morning. It was no problem to get rides back then, people would pick you up just to be accommodating. Times were hard all over and most people were more than glad to give you a ride. Also, the crime rate for hitch-hiking was not bad then and people were not scared.

We arrived in Bristol by late morning and started shopping immediately up and down State street to get the prices before buying anywhere. I remember the suit and what it cost. Also, I remember the other items and believe the breakdown of prices went something like this:

1 Suit of clothes $12.50
1 hat 1.99
1 shirt .75
1 pair shoes 2.59
1 necktie .25
1 belt .35
1 pair socks .20
2 hamburgers .30
2 bottles beer .30
1 pack cigarettes .15
Total: $19.38


Late that afternoon we hitch-hiked home loaded with packages and sixty-two cents leftover out of that twenty dollar bill.

The suit was a medium brown color with a herringbone weave made mostly of wool with some cotton in the cloth. The hat and shoes were a matching brown. I sure was proud of those clothes come graduation day.