The 40s (Part II)

1940s womans suitAmerican designers came to the forefront in the fashion world with the closing of the Parisian fashion houses, boosting such designers as Clare Potter, Claire McCardell and Carolyn Schnurer in sportswear.

Lilli Ann suits were made in San Francisco and Hattie Carnegie designed fine dresses in New York City.

Very fashionable dresses were designed with sweetheart necklines, side zippers and drapery that flowed from side to side. Casual wear consisted of pleated pants, print cotton dresses in patriotic motifs, polka dots, checks and abstract designs in bold colors.

Suits and dresses were worn with platform-soled shoes. Cork wedge was used in place of leather and steel during the war. Suede and fabric platform sandals and mules were fashionable and in Italy, bakelite was used for soles and heels.

The outrageous hats of the previous decade were replaced with turbans, crowned hats, hand knitted caps, and calots worn at the back of the head. Kerchiefs and veils tied under the chin were a chic trend, with hats becoming frivolous again after the war with veiled turbans adorned with fruits and flowers. Hairstyles were rolled or pageboys.

In 1947 Christian Dior’s “New Look” was a totally different design with unpadded soft round shoulders, padded hips and full skirts with pleating at the waist, calf-length skirts with crinolines in rich feminine fabrics. Hats were very small and designed to coordinate with specific dresses.

Men’s clothing also had fabric and design restrictions. No cuffs, pleats or overlapping waistbands. Vests were limited, and the two-piece suit replaced the traditional 3 pieces. Backless vests were used for eveningwear, with narrower trousers and shorter jackets made with rayon, rayon blends and flannel. Battle jackets were popular casual wear.

The “Zoot” suit made a brief appearance, but was considered a waste of too much fabric. It was styled with oversized coats, big shoulders, slash pockets, full knees, cuffs, trousers hiked up with suspenders and oversized bow ties. Does this look similar to what the boys are wearing today?

The Hawaiian shirts picked up by servicemen as souvenirs became casual wear in the late forties. (Original shirts are very expensive and highly collectable today.) The bold post war look contrasted with the somberness of the war years with broad shoulders, wide lapels, wide spread collars, large cufflinks, plaid socks, and colorful ties.

Ties were the mainstay of the forties with patriotic colors during the war. Hand painted designs and photo ties in vivid colors inspired by art deco. After the war luxurious silk ties were manufactured once again.

(Missed Part I? Read it here…)

The 40s (Part I)

Wartime saw many restrictions in fashions and clothing in general. The United States stipulated the amount and types of fabric that also affected European nations. With nylon, wool, and silk in short supply, women were forced to turn to fabrics such as rayon crepe, black faille and velvet chiffon for evening clothes. Rayon gabardine was the replacement for wool.

As a direct result of wartime restrictions standardized button and pocket limitations were introduced. Women’s clothing became much more masculine as boxy suit jackets with large shoulder pads, fitted waists, and dresses sported a peplum with narrow skirts. Later on the A line skirt was shown with suits.

Hollywood still greatly influenced the American fashion world and the forty films were filled with the fashions of the time; Suites, sweaters, skirts, pants, bathing suits, shoulder pads and sweater sets were made famous by Rita Hayworth and Lana Turner.

In the evening beaded sweaters and jackets were the choice as sequins were un-rationed and were widely used along with rhinestone buttons. Costume jewelry was large, consisting mostly of pins and brooches made in sterling silver.

Expensive gloves were replaced with knitted or crocheted ones. Stockings were thick rayon. Pocket books were tremendous in size, elongated, and with the metal shortage, made with wood or plastic closures.

Broadcloth or calfskins were used with many women crocheting their own with gimp or cording. Crocheted bags were manufactured in great numbers along with envelope bags, panier handle bags, pearlized plastic bags and hatbox bags, all designs of the forties.

(Read more in Part II…)

Could this be a dream?

I want to tell you about the perfect car tour I was on recently. We stayed in a hotel that had once been a single family “summer home”. The living areas were plush and cozy. My room was quite spacious and the height of comfort with a lounging area and the most remarkable bathroom, equipped with all the “necessaries” and a large soaking tub with the most fabulous shower you have ever seen! I could go on and on about the accommodations but we are on a car tour aren’t we?

In the morning, we would gather for breakfast and listen to the tour guide tell the days agenda. I must tell you the breakfast was just fabulous, a large assortment of muffins, scones, pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, maple granola and coffee, tea and juice of your choice. The day’s tour was a short ride to the resort’s spa where you could have a pampered day filled with massages, manicures, pedicures and of course, lunch. There is a place provided for anyone (probably the men) to park their cars and walk around them and talk and talk and take a few pictures and I guess I did say talk didn’t I? Then the short ride back for “happy hour” and get in a little more talk before dinner. Dinner and then back to our luxurious rooms for a little TV and a good night’s sleep preparing for day 2.

Day 2 – We gather for the same wonderful breakfast and briefing for the day. Today we take a short drive to the local flea market known for its’ many artists, crafters, and a wonderful food market where we will have lunch. Of course, there is a place to park the cars and let (probably) the men, walk around and talk and meet more men and talk, take a few more pictures and talk a bit more before heading back to our wonderful accommodations and have dinner. A little after dinner talk and by now there are some repairs or tweaks to be made to the cars and some discussion on how to make them. Another day gone and a good night’s sleep needed. We leave everyone today. The goodbyes take time and the next tour is discussed and we say goodbye until next time. You would think this is the “dream” car tour and you would be right! It was just a dream. So boring!!

Are You Mannerly?

I do a lot of shopping at a small village store known for their meat and deli department. For some reason I have an aversion to buying such at the big grocery stores. Why is this? I guess it’s that I trust the village store to sell me quality and for the 27 years of shopping there they have never had a “recall”. This store also served as employment for our 2 sons when they were in high school and still hire a very young staff. Excuse me, but I could, if not careful, get off the reason for this writing. I want to talk about manners or lack of.

The subject is brought to my attention nearly every time I step out my door. I want to tell you that I don’t go with that thought on my mind or “looking for trouble” but there it is!

On a recent trip to the Derby Store, I parked, got out and almost immediately started gathering stray carts. I can’t tell you why but I feel a need to move them from the random areas they have been left. I guess some of the reason is the parking lot is small and it is hard to park with carts taking up space and I have to admit it annoys me that people won’t take an extra minute to put their carts out of the way of others. On this day, I got to the doors with all the stray carts. I need to tell you that the doors are not automatic open. Well, I was having a bit of trouble pushing the carts through the door, when I noticed two young people behind me. Get the picture – 2 people about 20-25 years old, looking very physically fit waiting for an “older woman” to push carts through the door. Now, “the rest of the story”. They saw the situation and (quick thinkers that they proved to be) went in the exit door which gained them a quick entrance and avoided having to wait or help me! Oh, I’m sure their elderly, sick mother was waiting in the car (with no heat) for them to pick up some chicken soup and get her home to bed! Maybe they weren’t raised by a mother but by wolves. Isn’t there a story about that very thing? By the way, I watched them and they were getting a deli sandwich. Well, that explains their behavior. They were hungry. All is forgiven!!

At first I thought that the lack of manners was only in some young people but sadly it seems to cover all the age groups. All this said there are some very mannerly people out there and if you are one, I personally thank you and ask that you pass it on to your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, friends, neighbors, and car enthusiasts. We can win this. For me, I’ve got carts to gather and maybe I’ll review my copy of Emily Post.

Before I sign off, thank you Gary for printing this, thank you members for reading it and a big Thank You VAE members for pushing in your chairs, picking up your empty cups and plates and finding the recycling bin!

How to Keep Your Mate Interested! (in old cars of course!!!)

The following will be some do’s and don’ts regarding, what for many a woman, is the 5th season of the year the dreaded “car show” season. If you are just starting out and introducing her to the car show, this will prove to be the easiest time to cultivate a love or at least a liking for such things (if done right!) If you are a veteran of such, it will be harder but certainly with the right attitude, can be achieved. I will start with the don’ts:

  1. DON’T spring it on her the morning of the show! ASK her about the date at least 2 weeks before.
  2. DON’T expect her to pack the lunch, get the cooler ready, pack all the things needed for children (if there are any) and then wash the car!
  3. DON’T arrive at the show and disappear after shouting over your shoulder, “ Get me a hot dog (light on the mustard) and 2 drinks at 12:30.”
  4. DON’T offer to walk around with her and then pause at each car, for no less than a hour, and talk to the owner (which when done- it brings at least 3-6 other men who want to talk and so you end up seeing about 8 cars in the 12 hours you are there!)
  5. DON’T forget that while most “car guys” don’t need food, drink or a restroom, the rest of us do!!
  6. DON’T think that you get any trophy for being the last one to leave the show!
  7. DON’T forget that if children are involved, everything is much harder!
  8. DON’T give her a crash course in what the car is and has (unless she asks you to!) I have found that most “car guys” will believe anything you tell them!

Now some do’s:

  1. DO introduce “car shows” in small doses. Be sensitive to how much fun everyone is having.
  2. DO offer to take the children while she strolls through the flea market.
  3. DO make sure she has a chair, food, drink and a good book, if she is to be left alone at the car. (and only if she wants to be left alone at the car- I have found that is MUCH preferable!)
  4. DO try and introduce your mate and curtail almost all lengthy conversations and do your best to “move along”!
  5. DO take pictures but don’t feel you have to wait for every spectator to leave the field, besides, I’ll bet you already have a picture of the car back home, somewhere!
  6. DO return to the car from time to time so you can ask if she needs anything and she can be sure that it wasn’t you being taken away in the ambulance that left the field earlier!

Now, go and have a good time but remember in almost all cases, everything is easier to do at HOME!!

Another Chapter

Cars are bedded down for the winter, holidays are over, there are still remnants of cookies and fudge and decorations, so now you would think that we could all settle in for the cold and snowy days ahead. Maybe catch up some of the reading you have wanted to do or some “winter” project that you want to get done. If you are like us, these “projects” have been begging to be done for several winters. But, this is the year to get it done. Sounds good, doesn’t it? As usual, something seems to get in the way of all our good intentions. Let me tell you about ours.

About March of 2012, a skinny, scraggly, dirty cat showed up at our door. He was very skittish and extremely hungry. So we started to feed him and he came every morning about 6 AM and scratched at the door and waited for us to give him his breakfast. This was repeated again about 6 PM and we soon learned his schedule and tried to comply, even asking a neighbor to bring his meals when we had to be gone. We named him Willys (Willy) and tried to get friendly with him but making friends was on us, he continued to accept and maybe I should say, demand, service but didn’t seem to get any “closer”. At one point he bit Gary, bad enough to draw blood. While not exactly the behavior we had wanted from him, it would have been ok if there hadn’t been a rabies scare in the area. From the look of Willy, with his crooked tail and a piece torn out of his ear, with no shots, Gary could be at risk. He contacted someone involved in catching stray cats and they set up a “have a heart” trap. If caught, Willy would be taken to a vet, get a checkup, have shots, be neutered and taken to a farm in the area that accepts “refurbished” cats. I don’t know which of those things Willy objected to most (Gary seemed to think he knows) but Willy had other ideas! Half in the trap, it triggered the door, faster than lightening, Willy backed out and was gone! Back to square one and the days before Gary would have to start rabies shots were ticking down. Advice from the vet, and Gary’s doctor: watch the cat (if he returned) and see if he displayed any strange behavior. To make a long story short, Willy returned to eat and eat and eat. No friendlier, no less demanding but thankfully not sick.

Since then, Willy has been spending the cold nights inside, in my chair. You would think we have our teenagers back the way we worry about where he goes for sometimes hours. Willy now likes us to pet him, give him treats and make of him. He checked out our grandchildren at Christmas and decided to make a fast exit until they left. We check the door when he is out and about, making sure he isn’t waiting on the doorstep to come in. Willy went out New Year’s Eve and was still out when we went to bed about 12:30 AM. At 2:45, he was at the door and I was there to welcome him home. Now, we could sleep! We can’t believe his attitude: he ignores us, and he doesn’t seem to be concerned with how we fuss over him and will just walk away or turn his back. All the teenage years come rushing back. Just thankful he doesn’t drive. Have to cut this short, Willy’s supper time.

The Eighty Days of Christmas

If my memory is correct, I believe it used to be the twelve days of Christmas. This year the Christmas “stuff” started to appear in two local stores at the same time the Halloween candy appeared in August. Back “in my day”, the Christmas season started when the Sears Christmas catalog appeared around Thanksgiving. Many an hour was spent pouring over that book, pencil in hand, to mark all the dreams a child could muster. Dream as we did, we also knew, somewhere in the recesses of our mind, that we might get one toy or game or maybe nothing from the catalog at all. Growing up, Christmas gifts were made up, mostly, of what we needed – not wanted. This was the time to get new PJs, socks, warm clothes – things that we had worn out or outgrown. Many gifts were geared toward what the whole family could use – like a toboggan or skis or skates for the oldest and you would get the equipment passed down. I remember opening the “used” with the same enthusiasm as the new. My Mom would always add something to the used to make it seem new, such as, new laces, paint touched up, polished and maybe our name stenciled on the item. Actually, one of the highlights was our stockings from Santa. Many a Christmas Eve, my Mom was woken before dawn, to find four children creeping around in the semi-dark house on a mission to see if Santa had come and gone. Again, the stocking held things like toothpaste, new toothbrush, candy cane, and always a nice orange in the toe! It was a wonderful, magical time that I think has been lost since Christmas starts coming at us in August. Also, who needs anything? I would admit I have quite a few wants but certainly, at this writing, no needs.

By now you can see why I’m writing this. Wouldn’t it be more meaningful and fun to go back to the “twelve days of Christmas”, not eighty? Actually be able to give someone something they need and get something you need. Teach each other that waiting for Christmas to get what may be waiting in your stocking or under the tree isn’t a bad thing but it just makes the anticipation even sweeter. Now, I’m not lobbying for you to not buy new socks or PJs when you need them and if you do, I’m not saying you have to wait for Christmas to get them. All I’m saying is that we all should have a little restraint when it comes to buying. When you can’t think of “anything” to get a person for Christmas – just maybe they already have too much.

I told you that I don’t have any needs. I just remembered I do. I need a haircut – should I wait for Christmas?

When Did I Learn That?

Have you noticed that there are things that you know, that other people don’t seem to? Gary and I have discussed this from time to time. We can’t tell you why or how we know things but seems that we have always known certain things. This was brought to my attention recently, when my left blinker started blinking really fast which is the warning that your directional bulb has blown. Not wanting to take the time to check into it immediately, I decided I could us hand signals for a short while.

WRONG!! Stick your hand out the window to turn left and see what happens! One young lady looked at me like I was crazy and gave me a “look” that said, get off the road Granny! Some blew their horns, saying, use your blinker! I got at least one “wave” back at me! This was something I thought everyone that drives a car knows – hand signals. From this experience, I guess not, but isn’t it still covered on the drivers’ test?? One thing that I hate when driving some of our older cars, you know the ones, the ones without directional’s…. is corners. It is always in my mind, do they know about hand signals?? I can tell you that I decided that a new bulb was in order, sooner than later. Looked in the trunk and then went to the car book of “how to”. I, personally, feel the directions were not easily understood but between Gary and I (and the threat that we might have to ask for help) we got the bulb installed. The book does say that you may have to take the car to the Ford dealer for proper installation. I really don’t think Henry intended that we had to see the dealer to change a light bulb! Changing light bulbs, now that’s something I thought I always knew!

Vacation “highlights”

Gary and I just returned from a 6 week vacation. I used the term vacation but perhaps it should be more like an Odyssey. It really wasn’t what I would term a “vacation”. Gary drove (and I rode) over 7,000 miles. That isn’t 7000 miles of new road, it is 7000 miles, some of which is backtracking and going forward, sideways and back again! He likes to tell people that he does all the driving, which sometimes is true but this time it wasn’t. After finding a wonderful collection of old cars, tractors, etc. and parking me in the direct sun, I took matters into my own hands and backed the truck (with camper) into the shade!! Thus breaking his record for doing all the driving! Enough of that subject. My main reason for this article was to let everyone know that all roads lead to cars (in my world anyway) and the cars lead to owners or someone who knows the owners. Everyone we have met has some connection to someone or someplace or something that we do. Sometimes it is almost eerie! We started our trip traveling to Ontario for the 4-cylinder Plymouth tour. That proved to be very enjoyable. We met a few new people and many we already were acquainted with which was good to see them again. We went from there to South Dakota to search out Jim Lay, a “Plymouth” owner who was in the process of restoring his car and had contacted Wendell Noble who had given Gary the information. We arrived at his place without too much trouble, (thankful for cell phones), and found that indeed he was doing a restoration. Of course, you know where that leads so I’ll move on. During their conversation, Jim left to get something in the house. When he returned, he gave Gary a picture of a car on a trailer – Gary looked at it and quickly realized that it was a picture of his 31 Plymouth Convertible Coupe!!! He turned the picture over and stamped on it was; Return to Harry F. Olney, 62 Chester Rd., Springfield, VT. That was Gary’s dad. It seems that Jim’s dad and Gary’s had corresponded about 50 years ago and as you could tell, Jim’s dad never returned the photo!! It is now back in the family’s hands! We were eating with our grandchildren (THEY were the reason for the trip!!) in an A&W in Helena, Montana, when a man drove in (with his grandchildren) and probably wouldn’t have caught our attention but he was driving a ’63 Ford Galaxy Convertible. Waiting for food, Gary went and talked to him and found out he was from Connecticut but had lived in Montana a long time. And of course, found the history of the car! When their food arrived, they left and got into their car. I noticed he had left his wallet and cell on the table. My husband grabbed the items and ran after him and thankfully caught up with him. Needless to say, he was very grateful. The point of this story is that if he hadn’t had that car and Gary hadn’t talked to him, we probably wouldn’t have noticed his left behind items. On our way back to Vermont, after putting on several hundred miles going around the flooding in North Dakota, we were able to link up with Jim Benjaminson. Gary and Wendell wanted to thank him for his 40 years of service as an officer in the Plymouth Club and deliver some of Wendell’s wonderful maple syrup to them. What my husband said would be an hour visit lasted all day! Are you surprised?? But, even I have to admit, it was extremely pleasant. We saw his collection, a museum he is involved with and a nice lunch. I couldn’t ask for more. So on your next vacation, go with the flow but make sure to take along a few books (I read 7), knitting or anything else that helps pass the time when you feel you can’t listen to one more car story.!!!

How Far Is Too Far?

You’ve all seen that sign that says, “Unless you are naked, don’t touch this car!” Years ago, when I first saw it (back in a time when I was trying to impress my soon to be husband), I wondered why anyone would take and put such a sign on their beautiful car. Was it a way to trick people into removing their clothes for the treat of touching their car? I never did see anyone fall for that but I can tell you, I keep my eyes open! What I’m really getting to is the cars that owners guard like Fort Knox. You can spot them at most car shows. They are the ones trailered, and covered. Oh, they tease you a bit by dropping the wheel covers to give you a seductive look at those wide white walls. They keep a duster in hand at all times. Ever vigilant to the speck of dust or the errant finger print as they circle the car, caressing the fenders with their duster. Stopping only long enough to survey the crowd for any hint of someone who might step too close! What I imagine Homeland Security to be like when the President is in town. But, unlike the President, he will take questions- in fact welcomes them. “What about the paint job?” In great detail, he will tell you about the 23 coats of hand rubbed acrylic gloss at the cost of 213 hours and $28,000. And then swing into many other details, all the while scanning the crowd for anyone that might breech the perimeter! Come on, lighten up a little. These cars are supposed to be fun. Fun to me is not taking your car out of hiding once or twice a year and spending your time worrying that something or one might touch it! I REALLY do appreciate all the precious time and money spent but there is a limit! (in my opinion). Most of these cars never saw a paved road and if you could ask Dr Horatio Jackson, some never saw a road at all! I TOTALLY agree they need to be respected and “gently” used. Don’t get me wrong- would I give my 3 year old granddaughter, Addison, a candy apple and say “go play in Grandpa’s car?” Or give Cooper, our 6 year old grandson, a couple of die cast cars and tell him that the fenders of the ’37 make a great car track? Probably not, but on the other hand…………………. Just kidding! I get it! But I have to tell you, there isn’t much better than having your grandchildren come to a car show, “drive your car” and at the end of the day, sitting on the running boards- proclaim, “Grandpa, we LOVE car shows.” So for my cars, lift the hood, open the trunk, lean in to get a good look at the dashboard and don’t forget the odometer! But, PLEASE, keep your clothes on! My grandchildren are at an impressionable age and come to think of it, “so am I!” Yes, after 39 years, I’m still trying to impress him!