McCanless column: Do you remember when
Got an e mail the other day that was a montage of photos from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. What a hoot it was to see all the old memorabilia, the huge “portable” radios, the giant TV consoles with the itty bitty screens, and, of course, the cars.
Speaking of cars, the other day I saw an aqua and white hard top ’57 Chevy tooling down the road. All the other cars around it were driving slowly just so the drivers could rubberneck and look at it. Boy, do I remember that car. My Aunt Florence and Uncle Steve had one, and that thing drove like it was floating over the road. Try as hard as I could to stay awake, every time I got in it I would fall asleep. My aunt and uncle would pick me up and the three of us would drive up to the lake and their summer home in that glorious car. I can also recall how much room the back seat had, and lucky me, I had it all to myself!
The old timey pictures of the 50s moms doing their housework in high heels always tickle me. I knew a lot of moms back then, but I never saw one cleaning the refrigerator in pearls and high heels!
Of course, Beaver’s mom on “Leave it to Beaver” did, but she doesn’t count! My own mother would put on an old housedress, an apron, and possibly a bandana around her head, and she’d take care of the vacuuming and things in that, but pearls and high heels, no.
Which brings me to the housedress. Maybe you are old enough to remember the cotton, usually flowered, so-called housedresses the women wore back in the ’50s. They were called housedresses because they were usually easy-to-put-on, button-down-the-front sort of thing, easily laundered and ironed (oh yes, we ironed everything back then), and women wore them specifically to putter around home. When it was time to go to town or the market, my mom and her friends always put on the nicer stuff and hung the housedress back up on a peg on the bathroom door, or back in the closet or it got pitched into the laundry hamper.
Remember the hats? Women, and men too, wore hats everywhere. There were daytime hats, evening hats and the special ones you only wore to church on Sunday! Women and little girls even wore them to PTA meetings, the doctor’s office or just to run errands. After all, a lady wouldn’t go anywhere without her hat and sometimes she wore matching shoes and gloves. I can fondly recall, as a teenager, having a certain shelf in my closet for the co-ordinated hats, shoes and handbags. I kept my gloves in a soft, fabric dresser in my closet. One thing my mama taught me was to never go to town without being properly attired with my hat and gloves on. If she thought I wasn’t dressed the way I was supposed to be, she’d call me back, and tell me to go finish dressing, and do it right this time!
Slacks and shorts were strictly resort wear, but, we kids could get away with wearing them in the summer time. I look at my old school pictures from elementary school, and I see all of us little girls lined up in our frilly dresses and Mary Janes, and, I have to marvel at how times have changed. Now the kids and teachers too, all wear blue jeans!
I really love to reminisce over these old photographs, whether via the e-mail or in the old albums. Seems almost like today, nobody wants to recall or revere the past; they just want to forge ahead with new technology and new cars. Guess that’s why I love my PT Cruiser so much: it takes me back the good old days, when cars looked like cars and were comfortable.
I can’t help it, I pass another Cruiser, and I wave to them. It’s like we are in our own select nostalgia club.
Don’t guess it would hurt either if we all slowed down a bit, and, enjoyed the passing parade, before it too, becomes a part of our past!
Janet McCanless is a freelance writer.