I was very pregnant with my first child when the High Holy Days were approaching. Rosh Hashanah began at sundown on September 22nd, and Yom Kippur began eight days later on the 30th ending on October 1st. Needless to say, I was very excited, eager, and yes, a bit scared. We were living in Jacksonville, North Carolina, home of Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base where my then husband was stationed. It was the scary time of the Viet Nam war.
The first problem was, what will I wear? Yes, I had lots of maternity clothes, but it was very hot in Jacksonville that year, and all my clothes were shorts and tank tops, certainly nothing appropriate for shul.
Though Jacksonville is a small town, there were quite a few Jewish families, most from northern states such as New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, etc. Still, there was just one shul and one rabbi who traveled between four towns, so he was at a different shul each week of the month. It just so happened, that year he was at our town for the holidays. This meant there would be a big crowd because many Jewish families traveled to wherever he was each Saturday. For the High Holy Days, everyone would come. I needed a dress. And not just a shift but something nice. Plus, I needed two dresses, one for each holiday.
I decided to go the My Own Shop, one of the few decent lady’s shops in town. I loved their radio commercials. The owner of the shop did the talking. It sounded something like this:
“I wahnt y’all ta come ahn dahwn tuh tha Ma Ooown Shop and an’ see all the fahn dresses an’ such to choose from!” It was a riot!
However, we were in the military and, trust me, the salary was pathetic. I made most of my clothes and did all my other shopping at the PX on base for military families. If I needed other things, I would buy them when we came home to Baltimore for visits. However, my due date was in ten days, and we weren’t driving eight hours (this is before I-95 was open in the south) at that point in my pregnancy.
There were no maternity shops in our town which is why I went to the My Own Shop. When I got to the store, there weren’t many maternity clothes. However, they did have a few decent dresses, and I chose two. It didn’t break the bank, and I made the rationale I would have other children and be able to wear them later. (And that’s exactly what happened.)
When we got to shul, I was like a celebrity. There were very few Jewish families in the military. In addition, most of the Jewish families who lived in town were older, their children having grown and moved north. For that reason, it was like we were every family’s young relatives. The women who were from other small towns who came to Jacksonville that year, had not seen me for awhile and were overjoyed that I was pregnant.
As always, it was a wonderful service with our traveling Rabbi in our temple. Geoffrey was born a week after Yom Kippur. My parents came a few days later. With the help of one of my older friends, my mom arranged for the bris.
Here’s a fun fact: When I went to the hospital in the middle of the night, it was so hot, I wore Bermuda shorts and a sleeveless blouse. That year, it was the hottest summer ever in Jacksonville. I bet it’s not anymore!
Here’s another fun fact: Every couple of years, Geoffrey’s birthday is on Yom Kippur. Oh the complaints about not eating! I think he’s over that now.
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