Home Ick

I was ironing from my stash of vintage linens recently and came across an apron that set off a wave of memories for me.

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The fabric is vintage 1960s, sort of cool and retro. The sewing is novice—the waist band is applied awkwardly, so the uneven stitching creates puckers and wrinkles. The colors—the turquoise ties that match nothing in the main fabric—would appeal to a young girl.

I’d bet a lot of simolians that the apron was a project from a long ago Home Ec class.  

I was a young girl, a novice at sewing in the 1960s, too . . . I took classes in this thing Americans called Home Economics. 

It must’ve been the late 1960s and I was probably in 7th or 8th grade. The boys took “Shop” and used woodworking tools and learned about car engines, while the girls took Home Ec and learned about cooking and sewing. 

For a person who now loves sewing and even quite likes baking, I hated Home Ec. Even then, as a 12- or 13-year-old, I thought of it as Home Ick.

I have these clear memories of the teacher showing us how to butter bread. She stressed that we needed to spread the butter or mayonnaise or peanut butter right up to the edges of the bread, very carefully right up to the edges, so that the bread would stay moist . . . for our husbands and children.

She told us to take two slices of bread out of the package and open the slices like pages of a book so, when we put them back together, with filling, they would fit and match perfectly . . . for our husbands and children.

She taught us that it was of utmost importance, when measuring liquids, to squat down and look at liquid in the measuring cup at eye level, so we would get the precise amount and our cookies would turn out perfect . . . for our husbands and children.

Ai yi yi.

The sewing lessons were just as lame, to my 12-year-old sensibilities. We sewed one seam up a length of cloth to make a tube, stuffed it full of batting, and tied the two ends closed with cord and called it a bolster pillow. Really?

We also did class presentations on makeup and I remember a classmate intoning that we shouldn’t use eyeliner because it was passé. I was impressed that she could the word “passé” in a sentence but that whole thing about eyeliner . . . ?

I like to think I was ahead of my time, a mini-feminist in the making. Maybe the attitudes of the late 1960s and 1970s were influencing me, even in the backwoods of upstate New York, but taking an actual class in how to make a sandwich struck me as ridiculous. 

Maybe it was because my mother and father both worked and I had long made my own sandwiches . . . but taking an actual class in how to make a sandwich struck me as really, really ridiculous.

Maybe it was because what we were being taught was SO basic, not to mention sexist, and I knew the boys were learning skills of value—changing the oil on a car, making book ends with power tools—and no one was ever suggesting that they do it just so, for their wives and children.

Home Ec died a few years later at my school. I believe it has since been reincarnated, in different forms, in some schools. Boys can learn to cook and girls can take Shop, or not, as electives. Maybe they’re also teaching budgeting and organizational skills, and useful life skills, beyond how to butter bread and disdain eyeliner.

Thinking about my own Home Ec experience has me wondering—was it just that my experience was a lame one? Did other teachers, in other schools, provide a better, fuller range of skills? The person who stitched the vintage apron certainly learned to sew more than a bolster pillow! 

Was Home Ec just a thing in the United States? Did/do schools in other countries use valuable school hours teaching such things?

Do tell—what experience did you have with Home Ick?

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89 thoughts on “Home Ick

  1. I went to Catholic School, and the nuns certainly didn’t teach home economics or shop. They were worried about our souls, and that was it. 🙂 The most awkward class was Health. When they put the tape on about anything personal, the girls or the boys would leave the room for study hall, and the nuns would stand in the hall. Those of us left in the room were so hysterically laughing, we didn’t learn a thing. Crazy times in comparison to today. 🙂 I was thinking about you this week when I went to a tea, and we were surrounded by vintage linens. 🙂

  2. I really enjoyed my Home Ec classes and wish that I had realised then that it might be possible to have a career in something creative. I don’t think it even occurred to me to consider teaching. I’m not complaining – my life has turned out just fine. But it’s definitely ‘I wonder what would have happened if…’ territory.

    • Upon reading all these great comments, I think people’s experiences with Home Ec definitely depended on the teacher! I think mine was very old-fashioned for the era she was teaching in. You’d have been a better teacher to have!

  3. My schools never offered Home Ec, but I know I would have chafed against it, just as you did. (We are about the same age.) The way you described it, the class was a relic from another age that we hope has passed. If schools are going to offer such classes, along with shop, then let them be available to both girls and boys. I think that is exactly what is happening in most places. Progress?

    • The class did feel out of steps with the times. I think, if anything similar is offered now, it must be as an elective and open to boys and girls but I really don’t know. I’m not sure who would teach that kind of course either. Colleges used to offer teaching degrees specifically in Home Ec but I don’t think that happens now.

  4. I never took Home Economics because I had 4-H. I did one year of Foods, and it was fine, but I really loved sewing. The best part when compared with my friends who took Home Ec was that in 4-H we learned the basics and then were free to experiment. I remember even in foods, that we made entire meals as a group, and being amazed by the recipe for thousand island dressing, because it had ketchup in it! I still use my old 4-H recipes for some things; we did not learn how to butter bread or make sandwiches, but we did make some different things like egg salad in a tomato and jambalaya, which were pretty out there for a Colorado farm girl. I guess exposure was the word for it! Your post brought back some good memories, Karry! Had I been in your Home Ec class, I think I would have run as fast as I could from all of it!

    • I’m not sure why I was never in 4-H. As a dairy farmer’s daughter, it would’ve made a lot of sense and I think it would’ve been a better experience than the one I got in school. I never had jambalaya until I was in my 30s! Ha.

      • I remember thinking,”What is this?” It was so foreign! 😆 it was the 2nd year 4-H foods manual, and we made stuff that crossed every region of the US I think. I still have a copy somewhere.

  5. We did home economics, but everyone did everything, sewing, woodwork, metal work, cooking. I remember doing a course on car maintenance when I was about 16, hoping to learn something practical like how to change a wheel, after six weeks we still couldn’t do that but I could take a motorbike engine apart and put it back together again!!

    • That’s a useful skill, if you have a motorbike! I wish I could’ve learned what the boys learned and maybe they wished they could learn to cook. Your school must’ve been more progressive than mine!

  6. I’ll 2nd your Home Ick – home economics was a required class for girls and shop for the boys. (1967- 1971 NY ) We made a A-line skirts and even a dress. I had no interest in the class…I was more interested in tuning in and turning on and N.O.W. was in full swing – I was burning my bra not sewing one 🙂

  7. I went to an all girls grammar school in London. – it was quite academically focused but we still did a form of home economics although perhaps one lesson a week for the first year only. Half of the class did sewing and made an apron, which had a bib and everything and was probably quite a nice one, in preparation for the next term when we would wear it for cookery class. Our cookery teacher was a Chinese lady but we didn’t cook anything exciting like chow mein just things like Upside Down Cake and endless trays of shortbread. My abiding memory of it was she had a constantly runny nose and wiped it with the back of her hand so nobody ever wanted to taste anything she’d cooked 🤧. The needlework teacher was a real piece of work. She said I held the scissors in weird way and that I was gormless which, as I’ve said on my blog before, I had to look up in the dictionary. I think I was more surprised than even she would have been that I came to love sewing – or maybe it happened just to spite her.

    • A cooking teacher with a runny nose and a sewing teacher who insults students! That’s quite a pair! Thinking back on teachers I had, I do wonder why they ever chose that profession, since many of them were so ill-suited to it! You are getting revenge on your sewing teacher in a big way!

  8. Kerry your post brought back memories for me too. I was in your camp and hated Home Ick. I have no idea what class the boys were required to take. I think I was to busy dreading home ec. It really was ridiculous. When I was cleaning out my parent’s house I found a picture of me wearing this hideous dress I made for home ec. We had a fashion show and had to parade around in our home made garments. That was the only time I wore that dress, it was bad. I do remember the really old (like turn of the century) black singer sewing machines in class. I think we had to learn to cook something, just not sure what it was. I clearly “wrote over” those memories. Things quickly changed, in high school I had the option to attend a trade school for part of the day. I took a class on graphic design and printing. The trade school was available to all schools in the Los Angeles area. It was great, very diverse group of kids from all backgrounds and cultures. I learned a lot which help inform my career and make life-long friendships.

    • The only thing worse than having to make an ugly dress is having to wear it in front of others! It’s funny–my mom was an expert seamstress and I wore her clothing with pride but what they made us do, in Home Ec, bore NO resemblance. The trade school option sounds wonderful! That’s the benefit of growing up near a big city, instead of farm country, like I did . . .

  9. Where do I start? First of all I think all of us could learn something about the skills needed around the house. I also think, this being my own opinion that even the skill needed to apply make up could be offered. I well remember taking shop (I hated it) and the fact it took me 20 weeks to make one desk top letter holder. However it did last years. I recall that in about 11 grade a few of us boys wanted to take a home economics course that was centered on baking. We signed up for the course only to be told later that it would not be fair to the girls who’s spots in the class we would be taking. My wife recalls taking a sewing class and says that it is a wonder she sews today it was so bad. But to be fair she was very advanced in that skill in high school and the class was for beginners. I think that home economics is a course of study much needed today and should be started in grade school. By the way I have to ask did you go to school where the Eagle flies in colors of gray and burgandy?

    • I think the schools must feel a little overwhelmed, with all the things that they *could* be teaching students–do you focus on things like math, science, and reading/writing or do you teach manners, budget balancing, computer skills, etc. The school day is only so long . . .

      And, yes, that’s the school! My mother taught there and my father was a bus driver and business manager–it was like being under 24-hour surveillance. You didn’t go there, did you? But Sandy might have?

      • I went to PHS, but Sandy did go there and her father was on the school board. As far as what should be taught in school I know things change but certain things should still be taught. But the one thing I am sure of is that I do not have all the answers.

  10. Home Ick was named Domestic Science for me. It was an all-girls school so “Shop” wasn’t even thought about. I didn’t enjoy cookery or needlework at school but thankfully, we were never entreated to do anything for our husbands and children. (This was a grammer school – everyone was expected to go on to university; marriage was never mentioned.) Looking back I realise that I did learn some useful skills. I’m still pretty good at making pastry – even if I almost never make it! I may be out of date now, but I think these days our children take Food Tech(nology). Boys and girls. And alongside learning how to make pizza they learn how to design the pizza box…

    • Ha! Sandra, at a school in out town (not my daughter’s thankfully) they made pizzas alright – on a shop-bought pizza base…. but in both that school and my daughter’s, it was the pizza box design that was the most important.*sigh*

    • We didn’t have any distinctions of grammar school vs. something else here–small, rural farming community where it was unusual for students to think about college. I think it’s great that students are learning about food and the packaging/marketing of food–anything to make them more astute consumers!

  11. I had both sewing and cookery classes, and for a miracle, I still love both activities, but no thanks to the classes, I must say. I’m pretty much self-taught, except for watching my mother. I didn’t regard them as demeaning activities; my mother told me that making something out of nothing very much was an important skill, whether it was at the stove or at the sewing machine. It’s a skill I still practice today, and one I wouldn’t pass up.

    • The sewing and handwork I do came later in my development and not from school or mother. My mother was a *really* good seamstress and we wore almost exclusively clothes she made. Maybe her skill was intimidating to me or maybe I just never felt the need to learn to sew, since she had that covered. And I agree with your mom–making something out of nothing is magic!

  12. Well, at my very first Domestic Science lesson at Grammar School in 1958 (I’m way too old to have called it Home Economics) we learnt how to scrub a deal table. Not a skill I have ever used since that day. Our own kitchen table was very state-of-the-art. Formica. Remember that? As to Needlework. My teacher thought I was a left-hander gamely trying to sew with my right. I wasn’t.

  13. Home Ick indeed. Here in my day we also had these segregated classes. Aged about 11 we were marched off in two groups for the 20 minute walk to the off-site Domestic Science and Woodworking sections – a couple of old prefabs in a field on a farm across the railway line….. I remember my first sight of old fashioned rambling roses with giant thorns that bedecked the wire fences. The scent was amazing! I remember less about the actual lessons. While the boys yelled and laughed and sawed and hammered and made chunky wooden creations we girls were regimented into pairs with aprons on and I think I mostly watched while my keen partner did all the work. I do know that later, when there was a husband to cook for, I didn’t know how to boil an egg so I didn’t take anything away from that two year period. There was also sewing lessons run by an elderly seamstress who I guess was not a trained teacher. She ignored me and spent all her time with the girls who knew how to make the infernal machines work. Nothing rubbed off on me for later on when I did want to learn to cook and sew and handcraft I taught myself from books. Years later as a teacher myself in Steiner schools I watched delightedly as all my students entered their twice weekly handwork classes, followed a bit later by woodwork classes and later still the real McCoy cooking classes where they learned to prepare and present the vegetables they had grown in their gardening classes. Now that was preparation for life!

    • Education has come a long way in our lifetimes! I do envy the kinds of classes students can take now. But we rose above our educations, I guess, and learned to love our forms of expression in spite of those school experiences. My art classes also left quite a lot to be desired . . .

      • I took art in College and was placed in front of an easel with a white piece of paper, given a brush and told to paint a forest fire. That was the extent of the teacher’s interest and help. I stared at the white paper for three quarters of an hour, left the room and gave up any thoughts of learning how to paint for the next 20 years. However, when it came time to teach painting to my students I was very aware how not to do it and we went on to create some fun and colourful pieces together.

  14. Home Ec memories that still stick with me, for better or worse:

    -proper order for washing up: glassware, silverware, china, kitchen cutlery, pots and pans
    -always boil your kitchen linens after you’re done and hang them up to dry
    -the proper contents for a baby’s layette (we had to make books that showed all the items)
    -how to sew a french seam (we used it to sew our tote bags together. The bags contained the bib aprons and caps we made to wear in class. We embroidered our names on the caps.)

    Only the last has lasted with me.

  15. No home economics for me, which from all the descriptions, was a blessing! My school, a private girls’ school, built a science wing first and the home ec area later, after I left. It has only just struck me that this was quite progressive. We did have Craft classes, which I really enjoyed, and continued with them. I remember we learnt basket weaving, as well as smocking and blackwork embroidery.
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    • Do you know, I never took science after 8th grade Earth Science? It was assumed, I guess, that as a girl who liked art, I would never go to college and didn’t need Biology or Chemistry! It was an issue when I did apply to colleges . . . I took art classes in school but we did mostly drawing and painting. I didn’t take a crafts class until college and LOVED it! Backstrap weaving, rug hooking, batik dyeing . . . yummy

  16. My mother was an accomplished seamstress, so I had no need to learn to sew until I took Home Ec in High School. I decided to make a circle skirt – just cut a circle out of fabric, sew on a waistband, what could be easier? I picked a nice quilted fabric, but to save $$ I cut only the front in one piece, and pieced together the back out of two quarters. When I sewed it together all looked fine, but no one told me about pre-washing. When I washed the skirt for the first time, it shrank in different directions!. When I put it on again, one side was three inches shorter than the other – into the waste barrel it went!
    Now I pre-wash all my quilt fabric, and love that I mostly only have to sew straight lines!

    • That’s a great story! Ha. My mom was an excellent seamstress, too, so I saw no real need to learn to make clothing. To this day, the sewing for quilting is as far as I need to go and, as you say, I stick to straightforward patterns with straight lines!

  17. I was able to avoid Home Ick. It seemed pretty awful, though they did tell you about budgets and checkbooks. In 4-H I learned to sew and did a skirt and scarf and later sewed other things. Am thinking of buying a sewing machine to use again! So it’s not exactly full circle, maybe a different circle…

    • We didn’t learn about budgets or checkbooks–the assumption may have been that we would have men to do that for us . . . (insert eye roll emoji here). I’m not sure why i was never in 4-H. It was a big deal here and I would’ve liked it, I think. Be careful about buying a sewing machine–I got seduced, several years ago, into buying a very expensive, bells and whistles Bernina–and I HATED it. Way too much machine for my simple needs. Talk to friends and figure out what you’ll actually use a machine for before you buy . . .

  18. I had home ec in middle school also, in southern Connecticut, probably in the early 70’s. My experience was much the same… I remember very dry scones… being told to use coupons when shopping… a bib apron I made the night before it was due… talk anout french seams but no demo on how to do it. Being told to make the bed every morning, but not immediately after getting up, let it air out… and dry the sink when you are done with the dishes, using the dishtowel, to prevent bacteria.

    This last struck me as so odd that I asked my aunt the RN about it. She said that in theory, a dry sink will have less bacteria, but that’s assuming the towel had no germs to start with. I haven’t dried a sink or made scones since that class. I have done french seams, used coupons and made the bed.

    But on the whole, I am glad it is coming back as a class. It amazes me what young people don’t know these days.

    • I’m ambivalent about whether that kind of class should be taught now. The skills are definitely ones that most young people lack but they also need serious work on the basics, like math and science, and how to write coherently. And critical thinking skills so they can sort through all the things politicians and advertisers throw at them . . . And the school day is only so long . . .

  19. I went to an all girls grammar school and like other commenters before me, we were supposed to go to university and not bother with marriage. I think we were supposed to get someone else to do our housework. They did provide us with half a year of Domestic Science when I was about 14. I think we had a few theory lessons on cooking and keeping the kitchen clean and tidy and then we had some practical cooking lessons. I failed miserably and was continually being shouted at and being given detention where I had to clean the oven and write a hundred lines. No practical sewing for us, just ‘creative embroidery’!

    • I’m fascinated by a world where girls were assumed to be going to college and not bothering with marriage–very alien to the way I was brought up (although I ended up going to college for a zillion years and not bothering with marriage until I was in my mid-30s! I guess I showed them!) Funny how we all had to sort of survive school . . .

      • I was not brought up to have a career and not marry either but I managed to pass an exam when I was 11 which enabled me to go to a high school or a grammar school. It was a very old-fashioned school when I started there but had a very good reputation. A year after my Domestic Science experience the school became a Comprehensive school accepting (still just girls) pupils of all standards not just those who had passed an exam to get in. The change was forced on the school because it was within the London Borough of Bromley and London had decided to get rid of all grammar and high schools. The headmistress left and so did many of the older spinster staff and were replaced by younger more modern-thinking teachers. I didn’t enjoy school as much from then on; there had been something really special about the place and that had been lost for ever.

  20. I’m with you on the Home Ick. I hated it. My mother was a master seamstress that hid her machine from us so we wouldn’t touch it much less learn how to do anything. I was living with grandparents the year I had this class and no one cared if or how I learned to sew. I already knew how to cook and clean for many years. The shirt I made in class was as big as I told my teacher it would be so I gave it to my grandmother to wear. It fit her. I taught myself much like Pauline. Open a book and work through until I know how to get what I need done. Wish I could have taken shop though. So much more fun. 🙂

    • My mom’s sewing machine was off limits to us kids, too–she was serious about her sewing! And I am like you and Pauline–learned what I wanted to know from books and from making mistakes until I got it right . . .

  21. No makeup lessons, but the girls took sewing and cooking and the boys took shop (metalwork & carpentry mostly). I think my class might have been one of the last classes to be scheduled like that, because the feminist moms went to the principal and complained! But I enjoyed Home Ec. The same teacher taught both sewing and cooking, and she was very good at both. I still use techniques she taught us. And yes, we did make aprons like the ones in your pictures – but since we did the sewing classes first, we were able to use the aprons to protect our clothes from our messy attempts at cooking.

  22. I never took home economics. I went to a Catholic high school and I was in the college prep curriculum…no home ec offered. But I can still make a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

  23. I know they offered Home Ec in my middle school. In the high school where I currently teach, they have food and consumer sciences, but it’s a far cry from the simple tasks required in the middle school class. I walked in one day to ask the teacher something, and the kids were in the middle of a debate about breastfeeding. Another time a student brought us a Boston butt as part of our “feast” in the Anglo-Saxon unit. He’d made it in culinary class. It tasted fantastic!

  24. As a late 60’s-early 70’s teen, my parents decided that I needed a Catholic education. No Home Ec – – but I do remember one hilarious day of learning how “nice girls applied makeup” from the nuns. 😀 😀 😀

  25. Way back when I was in school, German schools differed vastly in what kind of extra classes they offered. I know friends who had mandatory cooking classes (boys and girls), but our class was split – for the first 6 months one half (boys and girls) were taking Shop classes and the other half was Needlework. I remember, though, that there wasn’t a single boy in Needlework, so now I’m wondering how they got around that… Even though today I love cooking, I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen back then, so I wish we’d been offered cooking classes instead of Needlework.

    • I wonder how school systems decided how to approach this? It seems so random–maybe these days they give students more choice in the matter–one can hope!

  26. No home ick here😂went to private school. I’m sure I would have hated it though when it came to sewing as I didn’t enjoy sewing until I discovered quilting. I was an outside girl ,who learned from dad how to care for you car .. how to change a flat ..and so on.. when it came to cooking .. I was cooking full meals for the family by twelve. Mom know how to get a hyperactive child busy!😄

    • There are *so* many skills humans need to get by–it’s a good thing we had parents who taught some of that to us and then the schools could focus on other stuff. I felt (and still feel) the same way about sewing–only quilting really appeals.

  27. What a difference a teacher can make. While some people were squashing canned biscuits, I was learning incredibly valuable, and apparently advanced, skills in food preparation and sewing. I still meet people who can’t make a white sauce or bake a decent muffin. We learned that in the first year in high school. I began a lifetime of enjoyment in design and sewing in eighth grade when I made a box-pleated skirt. The attitude was one of gaining independence. I would have balked at “pleasing husband and children,” too. This was in Arkansas in the 60’s in a small public school.

    • And here I’d’ve thought a small school in Arkansas might have been more conservative in the 1960s–stereotypes are a terrible thing! I think you’re exactly right about the teacher making all the difference in the world. Ours had *very* low expectations . . .

  28. California public school 1972: Mandatory, a rite of passage. I loved the cooking semester: we made biscuits, muffins, coffee cake, and even jelly, and then got to sit down and eat them. Words of wisdom I remember – don’t over mix the muffin batter or the muffins will be tough. I wasn’t good at the sewing part. We all made a drawstring gym bag to take our gym clothes home to be washed every Friday and to bring them back in on Monday that I used throughout junior high. I remember going to pick out the fabric in the sewing section of a store, I think it was Newberry’s – my very first fabric shopping. I still have some sewing notions I use that my mother took me to buy for the class.

  29. We did Home Ec in the 1970s, but it was both boys and girls and really it was mainly cooking – including baking bread and cakes. I do recall that we were taught to iron a shirt, but again it was both boys and girls. I liked craft better (partially what you call shop) – we did metalwork and woodwork and learned to use power tools. I think my school was quite progressive and it would all probably be considered too dangerous these days. We never discussed makeup and we did very little sewing… too busy with the bandsaw and brazier I suspect!

      • I went to a very progressive school. We were the first children who went there and to begin with there were just 40 of us, three teachers (music, English and the head) and a whole brand new building all to ourselves. In the second year we got a science teacher, a French teacher and the art/craft teacher. It was a really inspiring four years of education that I wish all children could experience… I learned maths from my English teacher and he was so creative with his approaches, probably because he wasn’t indoctrinated in terms of how to teach the subject.

  30. I majored in Home Ec in the 60’s in B.C. Canada. Half the year was cooking the other half sewing. I always had good teachers and my grade 12 teacher is the one I remember above every other teacher. We learned good useful sewing and cooking – menu planning, nutrition and budgeting. Shop was not offered to girls at that time but both my sons took shop and now earn a living using some of what they learned.

    • My grandmother got a college degree in Home Ec, in the 1920s! I learned nothing of use in my my classes–yours sound SO much more interesting and useful.

  31. The description of Home Ec in a NY State public school is hilarious. Home Ec was one reason my parents sent me to private school in the city at 14. They had been pretty indignant when I came home asking what shape my face was (to understand the best hairdo for me). I do wish I’d finished the blue skirt, though. I still have the wooden spool.

  32. Funny! I went to private schools and for whatever reason, we did not have those classes. (Shop, in high school, could be taken by either sex, but most of us tgirls ook ceramics or painting anyway.) I would have liked make-up classes as that’s never been my strong suit! ;-D I did not know that was poart of Home EC.
    I do think schools are having classes for kids who are having kids to learn what to do! And I do feel like kids are much less prepared to come up with a nutritious meal or do budgets than in “our” time. As the Chinese say “May you live nteresting times….” and we certainly do!

  33. This post brings back lots of memories. Your home ec class in rural New York sounds almost exactly like my class in rural Pennsylvania – except we learned how to make cinnamon toast instead of how to butter bread. And, we learned how to make a gathered skirt with lots of yardage – when hip hugger mini skirts were in style.

  34. Home Ick! You’re so funny. I actually like home ec, especially the sewing, although it was years before my skills really improved. I took classes in middle school and again in high school. We even learned how to tailor a coat. Thanks for stoking my memories, Kerry. Great post.

    • After reading all the comments on this post, I have come to believe I was cheated, in my Home Ec experience! Your classes sound a lot more useful and rewarding than mine!

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