It’s that time of year when many get gifts for loved ones. In 1947, Gerald R. Ford and Betty Bloomer had been dating just a few months when Christmastime approached. Jerry went to Sun Valley Idaho for three weeks of skiing during the holiday season, and Betty stayed behind in Grand Rapids, with a trip to New York City planned for after the New Year. Knowing they would be spending the holidays apart, Betty had this velvet and corduroy stocking made for him by a Herpolsheimer’s seamstress.
In her memoir, The Times of My Life, Mrs. Ford wrote:
It was very elegant, of red corduroy with a black velvet cuff (…the red has faded to orange), and I filled it with silly presents for Jerry to take with him. He was going to Sun Valley by train, so I put in a little choo-choo, and I got a pair of dark glasses and fastened blinders on them, and I knitted him a pair of Argyle socks – it turned out they were too big, they didn’t fit – and I bought him a very nice pipe lighter. I conferred with a friend about whether I should simply have it monogrammed with his initials or if I dared do something more personal. I’d thought of a line – “To the light of my life” – that I wanted to use, but I was fearful of sticking my neck out. I went ahead and did it anyway, had the words engraved around the bottom of the lighter in letters so small the inscription looked just like a design, and then I put the lighter in the toe of the corduroy stocking.
Clearly both items were cherished reminders of their early days of courtship. The lighter is on display in the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, and bears the worn look of a much-beloved and used gift.
May your holidays be filled with cherished memories for years to come!
Author: Brooke Clement