A Bedtime Story: Where Did Pockets Come From?

I hate it when that happens. Usually it’s a song. It’ll be something you’ll remember from way-back-when that ends up getting stuck between the ears and then spends the rest of the day irritating the surrounding brain cells. Singing Shari Lewis’ “The Song That Doesn’t End” with the kids, during the drive into school in the morning, requires nothing less than a marketing meeting to be rid of. Terrible stuff!

Worse still is some single strange thought like: where did pockets come from? Think about that for a minute. If most of the really good ideas come from nature, and if pockets are a really good idea, then there’s an undiscovered species of dinosaur out there that evolved the Cretaceous equivalent of the fanny pack.

It’s worth mentioning that the two legged kids didn’t curse me with the “pockets” question. No- Boomer did this to me.

For those who are new here, Boomer is my Appaloosa gelding. He’s a gentle soul and a joy to have around. And inquisitive. Everything gets looked at and, if possible, taste tested. It seems to work for him although I think he’d admit that picking the cat up, off the fence, by the tail, was not one of his better ideas. The cat was less than appreciative, gently swinging back and forth, squalling at the top of its lungs. Boomer got to spend the remainder of the day working all the orange hair out of his mouth. Come to think of it, he broke my youngest daughter of using “berry scented” shampoo in about the same way.

Anyway, Boomer loves pockets. There’s something genuinely intriguing to him about a flap of fabric that can magically manufacture everything from box-end wrenches to apple slices. Dad’s pockets tend to create less edible, but thoroughly marvelous, items like three-and-a-half inch coated nails, a foot or so of baling twine, the occasional red shop rag, and the ever fascinating spark plug or two. Mom’s pockets are less imaginative but will almost certainly generate far more palatable objects than spark plugs. I suppose that it’s reasonable to expect Mom pockets to fabricate apple treats and the occasional chunk of warm bread. The only thing to be said about little boy pockets is that whatever is in there had best be gone before the britches hit the washing machine.

Most visitors learn pretty quickly that it’s alright to give Boomer a light rap on the nose when he decides it’s time to take inventory. But some folks, and I don’t think I’ll ever understand this one, seem to find it amusing to have a thousand pound child try to figure out how to work a stick of spearmint gum out of a jacket pocket. I’m not willing to go there myself. Anyone else remember the story about letting the camel’s nose into the tent? There are several places Boomer doesn’t need to be and in my Carhartts, with me, pretty much tops the list.

I did find a BBC article entitled “A Very Brief History of the Pocket” and it suggests that the modern pocket didn’t come into being until the 1700’s. Keep in mind that that BBC is the same BBC that brought us Benny Hill and I think you’ll understand why I would remain a little skeptical.

I’ll have to add “where did pockets come from” to the “List”. The List is the fatherly equivalent of the “Mother’s curse” which is customarily passed from mothers to their daughters in the form of “when you have children, I hope you have a daughter Just Like You”. I’ll have my grandson on my knee and will tell him about when his Dad was young and how I had a horse named Boomer that made me think about “where did pockets come from”. We’ll reflect on that together for awhile and then I’ll suggest that maybe, just maybe, his Dad knows the
answer- and send him on his way to find out.

Who knows- retirement, when I finally get there, might not be so boring after all.

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16 years ago

Pockets were originally a bag-ish type of article that was tied around the waist of any self-respecting woman and was between the skirt and the petticoats. It could be reached by the slit in the skirt near the waist band. This kept (hopefully) any thieves from getting treasures that were carried. That is why Lucy Locket lot her pocket. It came untied!! I don’t know when they started putting them in the clothing but I think it was in the 1800s – when women started putting them on aprons.

Love your horse … sounds like a fun pet!

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