Friday, June 29, 2012
When the Adults Dressed Up
My father was a member of a civic organization. Their annual Installation of Officers was held every June. I think I looked forward to it just as much as my mother because I got to watch her get ready. During the day she'd put Dippity Do in her hair and then wrap it up tightly in small curls held in place by bobby pins. She'd be sure to feed us earlier than usual because most every year my parents would host a small pre-Installation of Officers gathering of friends in our backyard before they went to wherever the event was being held. Usually that was at the local country club-a rambling building with a big stone fireplace and lots of room to dance.
More times than not my mother made her dress. She was an expert seamstress. For awhile she owned a fabric shop and carried the finest in silk organza and taffetas so her dress always stood out. I remember her going through the pattern books sitting in her shop. Her choice usually came down to Butterick or Vogue. Vogue was usually the winner. She also carried hat-making supplies which included feathers and pins and shiny jewels. Most of the women wore hats and nylons with seams up the back of their legs and their fingernails were polished. My mother was meticulous about her nails. She'd do them faithfully. Her small jars of Revlon nail polish along with her cuticle remover and nail file were kept on top of the sidetable by the couch in the living room. She'd pick one evening a week to do her nails.
When the kitchen was back in order, my mother began getting ready for the big event. After her bath, she'd put her slip saved for good on-and then her marvelous dress. While she was doing all of this I would sit on her bed and go through her blue-velvet lined jewelry box. I loved doing that. There were so many pretty things-from cameo earrings with matching necklace to brass bracelets to pearls and pendants. Whatever she chose she looked beautiful. Once she took the bobby pins out and brushed her hair and put her red lipstick and heels on she had only one more thing to add-a splash of T'oujours Moi-her favorite perfume. My parents were a stunning couple. My father most always wore a white shirt, his good suit and a striped tie. His hair sort of cuved up into what we called his "time tunnel." Thinking back I bet women would have payed a pretty penny for that hair of his. He never had to use Dippity Do.
While the adults had their small get-together out back I'd try not to watch but I couldn't help it. I liked seeing my parents dressed up. And when it was time for them to leave, my mother would put her over-the-elbow white gloves on along with her feathered or jeweled hat and off they would go-and off I'd go back to her blue-velvet lined jewelry box and pretend I was Princess for a night-like my mother.