But I preferred to buy hankies for my mother rather than give her the clumsy ones I made. The five-and-dime store had such pretty ones, and they were only 19 cents. Printed with wildly colorful bouquets of flowers, they held me mesmerized just looking at them. Then there were the gorgeous flocked floral ones made of see-through nylon that were totally useless but so very elegant. Those were 39 and 49 cents. And the top of the line, the boxes sets of four, folded into fans inside of gold gilt boxes, some with embroidered flowers, others with monograms. Elegance times three, and only $1.19. But for a child of the 50's, that much money in our possession was as rare as having ice cream in winter.
Remembering Mom's hankies in her handbag got me to thinking about how different her purse was from mine. I wrote the other day about the odd collection of things in my handbag when I cleaned it out--everything from a pocketknife to pegboard hooks. Mom's was nothing like mine.
Peeking inside her purse was one of my childhood guilty pleasures. It seemed so grown-up and ladylike, two things I surely was not. Besides a pretty floral (and scented) hankie, there would be a round gold compact with a mirror inside, and a puff for applying the powder. The compact had a lacy etched design and closed with a most satisfying snap. In the same compartment of Mom's purse would be her lipstick, bright red hidden inside a smooth gold tube. So sensual!
Her glasses, a lady Buxton leather wallet (I never dared to touch that), a little vial of some Avon fragrance, tissues, a pen, and a comb inside a little case of its own, and that was it. None of the mishmash of screws, pencils, markers, measuring tape and other junk that occupy my bag. Even the purse itself looked lady-like, a good leather exterior with a gold clasp, and a handle that was NOT a shoulder strap. This bag closed with a lovely, solid snap.
|Mom and me, 1988. She was so thrilled with the way I looked that day of my son's wedding.|
But today she would have been proud of me, as I carefully starched and ironed the handkerchiefs, aprons and other linens for my booths. She would have liked how neatly I folded them and hung them on a little rack for display. She would even have liked a lot of those hankies. As I grow older, I find myself surprised by the ways in which I am like her--my love of flowers and tea and of lace and soft pretty things, my pleasure in babies and china tea cups. So maybe the wild girl grew up to be more like the lady m mother so wanted me to be. I wish she was here to enjoy it; I am sure she would have heaved a sigh of relief that all her teaching was not in vain.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.