U is for Uniform



When I was a kid, I wanted to be a marching girl; not so much for the marching but for the uniform.

One of my friends at school was a marching girl. She would go to practice sessions after school and competitions on the weekend. She was always bringing trophies to show at school.  She got to wear the most wonderful uniform I had ever seen.  There was a little white pleated skirt topped by a scarlet jacket with gold buttons and fringed epaulettes.  Oh, but the hat…the hat was an amazing concoction. It was tall, sparkly red with a navy blue band and brim and it was set off by a white feathery cockade.  Gorgeous!

I so wanted to be a marching girl wearing a uniform like that. 

Mum and Dad did not agree with my suggestion that I should add marching to my list of achievements.  They were of the opinion that I would soon tire of the activity. This was based solely on the fact that I had begged to be a Girl Guide for ages ( my best friend was a Girl Guide), swore that I would dedicate myself to the Girl Guides, promised that I would be a Girl Guide for at least twenty years, and then had only lasted two weeks as a Girl Guide.  Luckily, they had only ordered the uniform for that and had not yet paid for it.

I could not convince them of my deep, heart-felt yearning to be a marching girl. I marched everywhere. I marched up and down the hallway. I marched to the bus stop. I practised sharp turns and salutes when I was clearing the table after dinner…not such a good idea when one has an armful of plates and cutlery.  I even tried playing marching music as part of my piano practice. You would be amazed how different “The Blue Danube” waltz sounds when played to a marching rhythm.

Nothing worked.  I was destined to remain a non-uniformed marcher.  The only uniform I had was my school uniform, a grey tunic worn over  a white blouse and completed by a white panama hat. Boring!  To compensate, I took to wearing a feather in my hatband. My first attempt at style!

As a teacher I continued this tradition/affectation.  The rule for school kids in Queensland is “No hat, no play”.  My yard hat was quite spectacular. It was a straw breton style hat with a green scarf wrapped around as a band.  Into this band I stuck a feather…any feather…whatever I found on the ground.  When that feather became a bit frayed, it would be replaced by another.

Of course,  the children began bringing feathers that they had found to add to my hat.  I was soon wearing a hat that resembled a Native American headdress, so many feathers did it bear.  The crowning glory was a fabulous wedge-tailed eagle feather that a child had found whilst on vacation and brought back to school especially for me.

When, the Harry Potter stories came along and the children noticed the line “all witches wear feathers in their hats”, my reputation for having magical powers was enhanced tenfold.  That hat became an object of wonder.  It was part of my uniform as a teacher; a uniform I was proud to wear.



14 thoughts on “U is for Uniform

    1. It was a thing of beauty, visible from great distance and completely one of a kind. When we created a fundraising calico bag at the school, the children had to draw pictures of the teachers which would decorate the bag. The pictures of me all featured my fantastic hat.

  1. I love both the marching band story and the feathers in the hat. I had a blue jay feather stuck in the hatband of my sunhat for quite a while after I came back from my travels. I must return to keeping a feather in my hat. Somehow it doesnt work with peaked caps, though!
    Blogging from Alpha to Zulu in April

    1. Sadly, not of the hat itself. I may be able to find one of the bags with the drawing on it. Will work on that when I get home. We are on holiday at the moment, in Canberra, Tasmania next week and then heading home. Watch this space!

  2. What a lovely surprise to find this blog post waiting for me this morning. I (Karen Ellis) administrate Marching Girls a closed Facebook Group. I am going to share your post with this group. I have a few marching girls videos on my youtube. This is me in 1970 leading my team who were 1970 Australian champions. I also do a backyard march (for fun) on my blog at http://ruderecord.wordpress.com

  3. I was lucky enough to be a marching girl. Oh how I loved it. I had a hat,
    It was tall, and covered in blue marabou. Your hat sound just a fine.

  4. I am a 65 reborn marching girl! You never get it out of your system. Am putting a masters team together so we can go to the next Australian Masters Games. Would you believe we have some recruits who have never marched before? And I am having great fun designing a uniform…..

  5. G’day Erica,
    I too was lucky enough to be a marching girl in the early 60’s, our uniform was all white with gold trim, the hat being the peaked captain type, but we all loved it and wore it proudly, It was through a story on my own blog about marching that I was told about the closed f/b page, that has in turn led me to your interesting blog, your story about the feathers is wonderful,

    1. My feathered hat was indeed a thing of legend, but it in no way compared with the fab uniforms of the marching girls. You lucky thing to have been in a team. I remember being so envious of the girls at school who did marching. You don’t hear of it much these days. I was delighted, however, to see a group of girls from NZ performing at the Edinburgh Tattoo recently.

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