It was 1945, the war was over and new people had bought the Home Port restaurant in Menemsha and planned to reopen it for the coming summer. They were a nice middle aged couple who were new to town. They offered the waitress jobs to the young girls of the Menemsha School. I was 13 and excited to be offered a job. Several days before the opening, my mother and I were invited to the restaurant to discuss details. I was issued a uniform that was a dirndl skirt and what we called a peasant blouse, somewhat sheer and white.

My enthusiasm for the new job waned when I tried on the blouse and discovered that it was quite sheer and my undershirt straps were visible from beneath. I was self conscious because I had not yet begun wearing a bra. Tensions rose. I insisted that I acquire a bra before any more consideration of the job took place. I could not have my schoolmates know that I still wore undershirts. I refused any suggestions my mother offered to remake my undershirts.

As you can imagine, the demands of a 13 year old prevailed. We planned a day before the scheduled opening for a drive in our Model A Ford to the Vineyard Dry Goods store in Vineyard Haven. Dear Ida Levine, owner of the store and dresser to most of the Island in those days, soothed my mothers concerns and reassured me that her choice for me would provide straps that would show through my blouse and not be misinterpreted.

And then it was opening night. Many of the townsfolk turned out for the festive evening. I was happy and proud to be serving them in my handsome peasant blouse with the appropriate straps showing. My first table was a family of 10 who all ordered the turkey dinner. I wrote carefully and placed my order slip in the window to the kitchen. After that I remember little until I saw five turkey dinners come out the window.

I excitedly served my first customers . . . only to learn that those five were for someone else’s table and that set the whole kitchen into a backup.

The co-owner of the restaurant who was the supervisor of the waitresses was undone by opening night jitters and was sitting in the kitchen weeping and reading her prayer book. At the end of the evening, she told me not to come back.

So ended my Home Port career. I soon viewed it as a step up the ladder of life, and two things were for sure: I would never have to be afraid of a sheer blouse again, and I would never take a waitressing job again. And I didn’t. However, I am happy to report that the restaurant was very successful and many happy customers were served by girls in dirndl skirts and sheer blouses.

Jane Slater lives in Chilmark.