She cooks. She cleans. She stands by her man. All in her little black dress. Did you ever know a woman more clever than the Army wife? Alice H. Rice’s skit has been performed by military wives for generations. We pay homage with a few black dresses for today. The skit about the changing role of a military spouse was written by Alice H. Rice when she was the wife of a young lieutenant in the 1950s. It’s always choreographed to different music for each era and dress.
Good evening ladies.
Today is the day we are going to present a show edifying .
The girls are just dying to bring you their graphic comment
On the unique society and stylish variety
Of the fashionable service wife.
We invite your attention to affectionate mention
Of moments highlighting her life.
A new world began when she captured her man
And married into the Corps.
When she was a bride she trembled inside
At the glory and glamour before her
In traditional gown of satin white as swan's down
She's fresh as the flowers she carries
With a veil of white lace gives an aura of grace
Oh, lucky's the man that she marries
She dreams of paradise and mansions (with maids)
And worldwide travels she plans
As under crossed sabers (Exit Bride)
She promised her labors to him and the military's demands.
With prospects so pleasant and each wedding present
She arrives at her first duty station where she finds worthy functions
And coffees and luncheons just a-waiting her par-tic-i-pation.
A large wardrobe she lacks, but she quickly unpacks,
Thinking "What is the right thing to dress in?"
A service wife knows that the proper clothes
Help create the proper impression
What might stand the test? Basic . simple and pure
For any occasion. Of any persuasion?
This number would do, she is sure.
Now THIS may I stress is a basic black dress,
Clean-lined, unadorned, sim-plici-ty, either wear it as such
Or add a personal touch (point to bow) for it's famous for its du-plicity.
Well, she learns husband's routine of brassing and booting,
And how to stiff starch those fatigues, she learns how to sew patches
And cook extra batches (Exit Heroine)
Of food for the bachelor leagues
She arises each day
Like a fresh bouquet to cheer him off to "the war"
The day he "takes reveille" you can take it from me .
That's the day . she needs the car!
But even at dawn, she knows what to put on
She may see - you never know whom!
Bright-eyed and astute, she inspires him and all his platoon. (Exit Reveille)
FTX and S-3
TDY and IG soon are a part of her vo-cab-ulary.
She learns to stand at retreat
And how to buy meat at the local commissary.
And here is her Basic Black dress
Sublimating the housecleaning mess
A handkerchief chic, an apron so sleek
Accessorize her with finesse.
The service wife knows how to utilize clothes
So each hour of the day she has style,
Her housecleaning duty will find this beauty
Looking sharp whatever the trial. (Exit Housekeeping)
With engraved calling cards she delivers regards
To the CO staying "inside an hour"
When the call is returned, she is somewhat concerned
For they've caught her taking a shower!
But to this sequel she's more than equal
She appears with her usual tact.
Indeed her solution to untimely ablution
Is to smile and hope they will smile back?
This terry creation will cause a sensation
When teamed with savoir faire
An impression eternal remains with the Colonel
Who's received by this hostess so rare. (Exit Shower)
For well-rounded fun, she'll not be outdone
The service wife's lithe and athletic
She excels in all sports, at bridge table and courts .
In costume co-pa-setic.
She serves looking spiffy prepared in a jiffy
In her flexible favorite-guess!
With shoes that are flat and a jaunty small hat,
And . she's wearing the Basic Black Dress! (Exit Tennis)
Through farewells and greetings
And dozens of meetings, she volunteers without hesitation
Her life's neat and exact 'til she gets in the act
Of producing the next generation.
Yes, there comes a time in every climb
When the Basic Black Dress just won't do it
That's the time when it'll get snug in the middle.
What's the meaning of this? She knew it!
Her husband's agape at her blossoming shape,
But she's still just as pretty and pert,
She runs out and shops for lots of cute tops
And appears in a Basic Black Skirt! (Exit Pregnant)
Then once a month a spouses' club luncheon
Takes place at the local club
Which everyone goes to in frills, gloves and hose too
To show off her fanciest duds.
In chapeau and furs the honors are hers
She achieves a chic undeniable.
Have you recognized it? No, she has disguised it.
And dramatized good, old Reliable.
Now I ask: Did you ever know a woman more clever
Than the service wife I profess?
Completely adaptable, even unflappable,
Both she and her Basic Black Dress.
When her flowers have blooms,
When she's curtained each room
And made home out of government quarters.
And if parsley she plants (Exit Luncheon)
Here's a very good chance,
He'll come home one night with orders!
On civilian sod he goes "abroad"
As the service wife goes "overseas"
She packs, store hold and ship 'til she's ready to flip
But, once off, she travels with ease
In the travelling scrimmage she maintains the image
Of cosmopolitan cool.
Bent to her needs her Basic Black leads
From port call through customs. A Jewel!
With kids, pet and sack and the babe on her back
With baggage and luggage and hope
Smoothest trip of her life, she's a service wife (Exit Moving)
And there's NOTHING with which she can't cope.
Now what one wears to social affairs
Should be clarified by invitation
But ... what is normal if it says, "semi-formal?"
She might find a lamé that always clings so nicely
Or a modest suit is awfully cute
Though not semi-formal precisely
Yes, some do-it-up brown, in a sexy sleek gown;
Some opt for the casual look.
Each is sure she's correct but a glance circumspect
Makes each wonder if she mistook,
But the greatest success is the Basic Black Dress
Not too much, not too little, just right.
She has others smiling, this woman beguiling
She's turned out for a wonderful night
It's reputation-uphold it's unparalleled!
And she hasn't exhausted it yet.
Let me emphasize ladies, the point of the day is (Exit Heroine and Luncheon)
This dress is a venerable pet. (Exit Perfect)
She wore it for years, through laughter and tears
As she sat out the Vietnam War.
She wore it to yell, Honey it's you . in Hon-o-lu-lu
When she met him for R&R
As a waiting wife she suspended her life
'Til he came home again to her arms
As the children grew bigger a slight shift in her figure
Enhanced her maturing charms.
Years fly by . then alas an era has passed.
And the service just isn't the same.
In manner appealing, traditions are falling
And now it's a different game.
Too the milieu of fashion once a feminine passion
And all those old loves, the big hats and white gloves
Have succumbed to more informal clothes.
After years as the best, the Basic Black Dress
Was a dying institution.
It had to be faced, it was being replaced
By a trouser revolution.
At first just acceptable
Then more respectable 'til now they are quite de riguer
A lady in pants today can enhance
A parade, a luncheon, a tour.
Thus our service wife adapting her life
Turns out in her Basic Black Slacks
Nothing can faze her outfit with blazer
Admiring attention attracts. (Exit Pantsuit)
So in this best of careers quickly run out the years.
In this wonderful service environment, and her husband's retired,
And she's just plain tired, and ready for his retirement!
She has traveled and twirled across half-the-world,
Of fashion, an illuminary.
But, what is more, her esprit de corps
Has supported her man military.
But mellowed and sage in her golden age
She reflects on a life of success
And to what is this due. Need I tell you .
It's that one simple Basic Black Dress!
So . she'll go to her rest
PICK UP GRANNY
In her Basic Black Dress,
And the angels will smile and prize it
For with shining wings and a halo that clings
For in her Basic Black Dress she's done things you can't guess
Now in Heaven's domain she'll forever remain
Singing hymns in her Basic Black Dress.