Fashion spotlight lands on faded denim

“When Huck Finn put on his patched, faded blue denim overalls to go catfishing, he never dreamed he was anticipating a fashion trend for 1953.

“Denim’s revolution is a product of the two-day weekend, the trek to the suburbs, and the increasing informality and casualness of U.S. living. Schoolboys started it, in the 1930s, with a penchant for ‘levis’ [from] Levi Strauss.  Spare-time yachtsmen found that salt water gave the deep blue levis a faded look, which became so fashionable that youngsters dumped bleach into the family wash to fade their own…. U. S. makers decided that if people preferred light blue denim, they had better start making it….

“The denim revolution was helped along by Mary Shannon, fashion stylist for Cone Mills. The company brought out more than 50 new kinds — stripes, plaids, multicolored combinations. At the 1949 showing, Mrs. Shannon herself appeared in a denim dress of her own design, set off delighted murmurs in the trade.

“One high-fashion stylist even produced a limited collection of mink-trimmed denim suits — for California, obviously. [And] men’s oxford grey denim suits have created a stir….

“For the ailing U.S. cotton industry, long ago threatened by synthetics, the coronation of Cinderella denim proved that where there is a way to make homely cottons attractive there is a will to buy.”

— From Time magazine, June 29, 1953

A little something extra in their pay envelope

“The first state to offer birth control services through its public health program was North Carolina in 1937….

“The demographic characteristics of Southern blacks — high birth rates that were not lowered by increasing economic pressure — also described poor Southern whites, though to a slightly lesser degree, and state programs tried to bring birth control to them as well. North Carolina… persuaded several large textile mills, which employed mostly whites, to distribute slips in payroll envelopes telling workers that company nurses would provide contraception information.”

— From “The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America” by Linda Gordon (2002)

Holiday link dump: Anarchists to preservationists

— The Asheville Citizen-Times offers a nicely done page of local historical photos. A 1943 shot raises the question: Might there also have been a Colored Transportation Co., or was that purpose adequately served by the back of the White Transportation bus?

— Also in the Citizen-Times: lots and lots of coverage of May Day vandalism. And here an anarchist calls for “Solidarity with the accused!”

— Preservationists set their sights on Edenton’s grand but neglected Pembroke Hall, circa 1850.

— Lincoln County Historical Association impatiently  bypasses state historical marker process to honor former Air Force chief of staff.

— Does Penderlea, the Pender County farm community created under the New Deal,  belong on the National Register of Historic Places?

— Archives and History publishes 25th anniversary update of  “Native Carolinians: The Indians of North Carolina.”

— High school teacher researches  “a non-fiction memoir of the 33 mills that were once in Richmond County and the people they affected.”

— The Woolworth’s lunch counter at the National Museum of American History is the setting for a half-hour play, in which an activist of the time briefs potential recruits in nonviolent resistance. (Scroll down.)