This time of the year I am in the final rush for Christmas presents. I have in the past stressed out about not getting my gift knitting done by December 25th. This year I said, no to that headache and scaled back my expectations on handmade gift giving. However, with the weather getting colder and the holiday season upon us I have found myself thinking about knitted items from my own childhood.
Like most kids I preferred toys to clothes, but occasionally something special would slip through. When I was 5 or 6 my grandma gave me a stocking cap and scarf set that I loved and wore every winter with pride. That does sound charming, but I am sad to say there is a smudge on this memory. Though this is not a good excuse, the time was the early 70s and one of my favorite restaurants then was Sambo's. Sambo's was the Denny's of my youth. I loved their hot cocoa and hash browns. My grandma knew my feelings about Sambo's and bought me a neon orange and black hat and scarf set emblazoned with the restaurant's logo. I am not going to lie to you the hat even sported a black pompom on the top. I LOVED them both and wore them all winter long.
After a couple of years the set was looking more than a little shabby. The hat was especially sad with a spout of black yarn in tribute to the now missing pompom. I didn't care I just loved the bright color offset with the intense black logo and scarf even had stripes. I felt like a tigress once I had the scarf wrapped around my neck.
My mom kept a laundry basket at the bottom of the coat closet to catch all the miscellaneous winter accessories. When I wasn't wearing my Sambo's hat and scarf they hung out in the basket. One day they weren't there. I checked the bottom of the basket, I pulled the basket out of the closet and checked the floor. I stomped around in a snit because I how could something that bright hide from me? My mom gave me a different hat and scarf, but the colors weren't as bright and I didn't feel like a tiger anymore.
The missing accessories left me with questions. Where did they go? And Why did the stripes on the scarf have a wonky jog to it as it went around to the other side? And how come there were no more Sambo's? As an adult I can answers all of those questions. Sambo's aside from being poorly name made some bad marketing choices. I think, rightfully, people were offended by the lack of sensitivity of the company to use pejorative racial images in the restaurant. Sambo's removed the offending images, but the damage was done. I do think there still one Sambo's left in California. As to my accessories, my mom had let me wear the set because I loved it so much, but over time she knew the garments would have to go. One night after I had went to bed she dug them out, optimistically hoping I wouldn't notice the theft. Finally, now that I knit, I know the answer to why the stripes looked weird on the side. Trust me there is a good answer, but it might bore a non-knitter. Mysteries solved all, but one. What the hell the was I thinking loving that neon orange so much?