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The Softer Side

Nancy Willett [ August 2005 ]

Having a strong sense of history, every time I start this column, I try to think of something that will be of interest and informational to all. Yes, including the male gender!

How can clothing tell about history? It simply tells of the everyday lives of those early years and how people dressed to accommodate all of their actions during the day and evening. Those early years, depict to me a time of gentleness, grandness, of softer times with lots of fun thrown in. Maybe itís just an illusion that presents itself to me from time to time, but it sure is fun playing dress-up.

Because of my age, I find it easier to write about the 40ís, 50ís, and 60ís. Itís not hard to write about the 70ís and 80ís, but in my mind I see those first years as relating to my growing up. Maybe thatís why all of you gentlemen, relate to your cars the way you do. We are trying to find that tangible connection to our past and besides, having the cars is fun and a great hobby.

As far as I am concerned, the two fashion shows that we put on each year, are a little like the frosting on the cake, and rounds out the story of our cars, and having fun being with other folks that like to have fun also. Your really missing the finishing touch to your story if you donít participate in one of the shows or attend. We are only as good as you, and we need lots of participation, both in playing dress-up and watching the rest of us play dress-up.
The folks with the older cars have to search long and hard to find outfits that go with the era of their vehicles and should be commended for their efforts. When you see someone in an outfit of the Model T and before era, it is hard to imagine how people managed to stay looking clean and elegant by the time they got to their destination. The open cars were a challenge just to get from one place to another in one piece. No wonder they all wore long dusters and netting over their hats, as drivers and passengers were exposed to all kinds of weather. Iíve had the opportunity to ride in Rod Riceís Model T, and found it to be a hoot, and if Rod is out there with his ď T Ē, ask him for a ride. Itís a great experience, and youíll begin to understand what that fashionable gear is all about!

The ladies that drove must have found it to be more challenging than the men, with those long skirts. It had to be hard to keep skirts up out of the way of the three pedals that control the ďTĒ. Goggles were a must even with the windshield; no paved roads in those days. Just think about the yards of netting to keep that big floppy hat on top of the head, and I bet they didnít wear white gloves to drive! I somehow think it was easier to sit stiffly in the passenger side all bundled up than to try and drive the big high autos.

A woman driver was a rare sight, and even today there arenít many women who venture to drive the older cars. It takes lots of ďarm-strong steeringĒ and good long legs to reach the brakes that may or may not stop on a dime. Yes, ladies, itís a lot more fun, to be the passenger, and arrive looking exactly like you just left your home, but only after you remove your duster and veiling.

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