A new suit of clothes was quite an event and as our family was quite large was a rare occurrence, as usually when one grew out of them they were handed down to the next in line and very much the worse for wear. Suits of course were for Sabbath wear only, the rest of the week they were carefully folded and stowed away, and while new and presentable, it meant we had to attend Sunday school. There were so many restrictions and obligations, that we would have forgone the pleasure of the new togs.
In the first place they were like our shoes, a size to big, this was to take care of expansion as we were advised we would grow into them so that when the suits were new they never fitted and by the time we had grown into them, to see a large chunk of shirt tail sticking out of the ass end was not an uncommon sight, which kept one busy at times fingering it back into the hole.
Our new suits arrived on Saturday, two of them, my older brother Hugh and myself being at this particular time in more need than the others, were the recipients.
The pants were like plus fours or knickers as we call them, and had an elastic band at the bottom which fitted just below the knee and were hellish contraptions. If the elastic broke or stretched it would let the pan leg drop over the boot top or they would gradually work down over the calf of the leg, first one, then the other, giving a grotesque appearance to the wearer, not to mention a feeling of nakedness.
Saturday night we were given a grooming and a scrubbing which we loudly protested. We didn't need and had our hair cut by Mother, Father usually being off on a fishing expedition. The hair cut was performed with the household scissors and was far from professional, and having washed the dirt from our scalps the shear marks on our head stood out like the stripes on a Zebra, which forced us to keep our bonnets on as much as possible for a couple of weeks or so, until the new growth hid the scars.
Sunday, with due caution about our behavior and to be careful of our clothes, we were given our halfpenny for the collection plate and ushered on our way to Sunday school and although we tried our best to act nonchalantly as though new suits were not an uncommon occurrence in our family, we had that rotten feeling as we ran the gauntlet that the whispered query was being bounced around: "Where was the fire sale?".
Once out of sight of the house our thoughts turned to the coppers in our pockets which would go to the little boys and girls in the far off mission fields, that is, provided we dropped them in the plate at Sunday school. Our reason was primitive, we felt that charity begins at home so after swearing each other to secrecy, we invested our contributions in candies. Come time to take up the collection and the plate was ushered into the pew, when it reached us we skidded it along so fast that the double blank was scarcely noticeable, with the exception of the old gendarme who was waiting at the other end to receive it, and who gave us a look as much as to say; "Sooner or later boys, Hell will be your portion".
It was eventually over and it was a great sense of relief to get outside again, but we still had to be careful to repress our good feelings as such things as whistling or being overly exuberant was frowned upon on the Sabbath.
We cast around looking for our playmates but they were not in the neighborhood , we of course knew then that they would be found at the seashore which was a matter of two or three miles from town and which on account of being dressed up in our new suits was number one Taboo. We had visions of the other boys having a gutfull of whelks which they had gathered and boiled in an old can over a driftwood fire or of spearing flounders with their leisters, this was too much, so we started, rather aimlessly at first, heading in the general direction of the seaside and once out of town and our purpose clear and thinking of the good time we might be missing, from an aimless walk, our progress became a dogtrot, bursting into a canter at times until our wind played out. We finally arrived at a point where the road turned off at a right angle or detour;
to go straight ahead saved considerable time and distance but this was through a private estate which was constantly patrolled by husky and very efficient game keepers. These gents were usually accompanied by a brace of black dogs of the retriever type and if caught trespassing, one had the choice off standing and taking the consequences of the keepers stick or be coursed like a hare with a couple of hounds snapping at ones coat tails. Hugh of course was all for the short cut and had already climbed up on the wooden gate and was sitting on the top bar. Having visions of the keepers and the dogs I refused to go and anyhow I wanted to pass the lucky tree which was a little further along the highway.
This lucky tree was a rotten old stump which due to phosphorous content was supposed to give a luminous glow at night and to have a little piece of the pulpy wood in ones pocket would bring good luck. Hugh of course said "To hell with the Lucky Tree, That is all Bullshit" but I was determined not to take the shortcut and without further argument started to move off. Seeing that I was not to be persuaded he reluctantly slithered down off the gate. One thing he did not notice was the big rusty spike that had been driven through and bent upward, and as he slid down the spike entered the seat of his pants and held him suspended like a trophy on the wall. He hung there in a jack knife position shouting and cursing for me to unhook him, but there was nothing I could do about it. So after thrashing and kicking for a few moments the whole ass of his pants gave way and he fell on his face on the ground.
In those days, in our family at least, it was just the grown ups that were favoured with underwear and in his descent apart from tearing his seat out of his pants the nail had gouged a goodly furrow in his rear end. Getting a quick squint of the havoc as he struggled to his feet I was stunned for a moment, but quickly alerted myself having a pretty good idea of what would happen to me once he discovered the extent of the damage. Like a dog chasing its tail he cocked his head over his shoulder and made a few quick revolutions, first one way, then the other, finding that he could not make an appraisal in this manner he stopped and cautiously sent an exploring hand behind his back hoping to get some idea of the size of the rip. Feeling nothing but bare ass and a cold breeze the extent of the tragedy suddenly dawned on him, by this time I was well out of reach.
Grabbing a stone from the road he shouted "God Damm You and Your Lucky Tree" and let fly with the rock which I just barely ducked in time, otherwise it would have taken my head off. From there on it was a running skirmish pausing only to grab up more stones to heave at each other, in this manner we soon arrived at the shore.
The boys were there as anticipated and we soon joined them in their activities, the accident to the pants and the fact that we had on new suits was for the time being forgotten.
Came time to leave for home Hugh's pants again were the main concern, this problem was solved by pulling the remnants together and pinning them in place with hawthorn spikes. It was a crude repair but at least it covered his nakedness. Arriving home he made me take the lead going into the house hoping that he could evade detection and postpone the evil moment.
Now during the revels on the beach my suit had also taken quite a bit of abuse, having gotten wet to the midsection while wading among the slippery rocks, the elastic in the legs had stretched and the pants hung loose and sodden over my boot tops.
No questions were asked, the Old Lady grabbed me and proceeded as she said, to bust every bone in my body. Hugh in he meantime was discreetly keeping his rear end out of sight, so much so that it aroused her suspicion, so tossing me aside for the moment she grabbed and gave him a spin around to have a rear end inspection, but he completed the revolution and was facing her. This happened two or three times and then very slowly she turned him around, then with a cry to her Maker to witness the destruction to the Ass of the pants she waded in using his head the way a boxer would use a punching bag. She just kept it bouncing between both palms and as he dropped to the floor howling, he was pointing an accusing finger at me and burbling something about a Lucky Tree. That was when I made my exit.
That happened some fifty long years ago but to this day still fresh in our minds. The reason for this being, that my mother was bigger and stronger than the average man and when one got a massaging from her it was something to remember.