Clothes Make the Kid

     WHAT is so cute as a small child dressing up in grown-up clothes?  Once cameras were accessible to the everyday consumer, few collections of family pictures did not include at least one photo of Boopsy putting on Dad’s hat or Mom’s shoes.  Swiping one’s parents attire was a great way to play grown-up, or, if the child was of a more prosaic disposition, just getting an immediate laugh from the big people in the house.  It was sometimes good training for one’s teen years, if your parents were your size and wore something cool enough to borrow on a night out.

     Postcard cartoonists were certainly aware that cute was a constant seller, hence all the puppies and kitties we have discussed hereintofore.  So I thought I would show off a few postcards dealing with young people dressed in attire obviously designed for older wearers.

     First, however, I need to set up a few rules.  There is an endless array of postcards like the one at the top of the column.  We have discussed before how our ancestors regarded nudity as thoroughly cute, at least in small children.  So adding a few adult accessories made it all that much cuter.  So I wasn’t going to cover THAT entire genre.

     Overalls were considered a farmer’s workday clothes throughout much of the land, so kids in overalls turn up frequently, as they pretend to be grownups

     The problem with this is that overalls being such a functional garment, lots of children wear those anyhow.  The gag here is not so much what they’re wearing as what they’re doing.

     So children in overalls don’t really count toward this topic.

     Even though this rules out a long and heartwarming series of postcards about Little Breeches, who appears in overalls in postcards showing what he would like to be when he grows up.  The puppy and hat and overalls stay pretty much the same, whether he is imagining being a circus performer, a fireman, or what have you.  It all ends with a postcard of him in his jammies, kneeling at his bedside, praying to be a good man when he grows up.  We will not discuss him (and the poem that inspired them, possibly THE most famous poem ever written by a U.S. Secretary of State) in this column.

     The same thing goes for all the postcards which show small boys dressed as cowboys.  The cowboy was a hero of popular culture before the postcard was even invented, so naturally, kids were dressing up as cowboys long ago.  Once again, as with the overalls, the clothes just set the scene.

     Children in cowboy hats were not, by that fact alone, supposed to be awfully cute or funny.  Sometimes, as here, the attention to detail made things more chortleworthy, but, again, we’re not affected by the thought “Hey, this kid’s way younger than his clothes!’

     Now, having covered that, we can go on to…oh.  Out of room for today.  Well, maybe next week.

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