Monday, September 18, 2017

Those Were the Days



On a lovely September day of 1963 at 12 noon, I turn off my IBM Selectric typewriter, put away the papers I've typed that morning for the latest questionnaire that will go to the printing department, take my purse out of the lower drawer of my desk and stand up to leave for my lunch hour.

I stop by the ladies room first and tell the other girls that I'm skipping lunch in the cafeteria to shop at Cain-Sloan for stockings as I'm wearing my last pair with no runs. I borrow some Aqua Net and then brush off the shoulders of the black sheath my mother made for me out of polished black cotton.




It is warm enough outside for a sleeveless dress but against the rules for me to wear one at the religious publishing house where I work. Needless to say, pants are not allowed either. 

I go to the elevator and leave the Research and Statistics Department and soon am out on the sidewalk hurrying along. Five or six blocks later I am at Cain-Sloan and hurry inside to the stocking counter as I plan to go downstairs for a tuna fish stuffed tomato before returning to work.

There is one saleslady available and I tell her my size and she pulls out four thin boxes, opens the lids and spreads apart crisp tissue paper. I point to the tan, darker than what I wear, and she carefully slides her hand inside a sheer pair.

I envy her manicure, shake my head and say I'll have three pairs of the nude, knowing tan is too dark for my pale legs. I present my charge card and we conclude our transaction, smiling at each other, one lady dressed in black to another.



I wish I have time for lunch in the Iris Room--and my mother there to pay for it--but instead hurry to the basement lunch counter. As I walk back to work on this September day, a hint of fall in the air, I know I look slim in my black sheath dress, my Maidenform panty girdle not really needed except that it is proper and expected, and its fasteners hold my stockings in place better than the garter belt I wore in high school days. 

I fairly fly along Church Street in my black leather high heels. And my feet don't hurt even the least bit when I push open the doors to go inside, five minutes early.

Think of that!


You might ask why I didn't wear pantyhose instead of stockings?

It took me years to switch to pantyhose. Why?

Picture this day:

I am excited to be wearing pantyhose for the first time. I swing up out of my new red MG Midget after parking on the roof at work, feeling very sophisticated and free of a hot panty girdle. 

I hurry along to the roof elevator when the dreaded thing happens. My hose begin to creep down. By the time I enter the elevator they are around my thighs. Off the elevator I take mincing steps, pressing my legs together. 

I pass the cafeteria and realize I am not going to make it much further without them puddling around my ankles. I go into the nurse's office and tell her my predicament. She solves the problem and for the rest of the day I carefully maneuver around the office with four safety pins holding my new pantyhose to my slip.



And so I threw the pantyhose out and returned to my panty girdle and stockings until pantyhose was much improved, probably about the time they came in white plastic eggs and were sold in grocery stores.

But what I wouldn't give for just one more day of shopping in Cain-Sloan in downtown Nashville at 5th and Church, my mother along to whip out her charge card and my father there to take me and my little sisters into the record department where we would pick out new records and go into a booth to listen to them.

Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end......



49 comments:

  1. Oh, I can almost identify with that feeling of your pantyhose slipping down, as it reminds me of the time I was walking down W. 43rd St. in NYC, and my slip shimmied its way down my hips and almost onto the sidewalk before I caught it. Darn -I knew the elastic in the waist was shot! I love the imagery of you in your sheath dress and heels. That little MG is awesome! Great post, Dewena - Hope you are doing well.

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    1. I loved my MG, Amy! It was the only stick shift car that never scared me to drive, didn't roll back when stopped at a traffic light. My first choice was a navy split window Corvette Stingray but it was $4,200. The MG was $1,900. Just imagine--that Stingray would be worth $100,00 now!

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    2. RH reminded me of those details!

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  2. Oh, this was lovely, Dewena. How chic you must have looked in your black dress. I wore stockings and a garter belt for just a few years in my early teens and transitioned to pantyhose as soon as I could - even before my mother did!
    How things have changed - dress is so very casual now.

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    1. Thank you, Lorrie! You know, I felt chic then! And I never even minded the dress code at work. It just seemed reasonable then that people wore some things for work or school, some things for sports or outdoor activities, some things for church, and some things for home. Men and women too.

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  3. This is my favorite post of yours EVER!! Love it. I certainly do remember panty girdles, and Maidenform bras, and "stockings" that needed garters. Garters were needed to hold up our stockings....not something "sexy" to wear on your honeymoon, LOLLOL And I remember SLIPS! These young girls of today truly NEED TO BUY SLIPs in my opinion, I'm so tired of seeing straight through their wispy cotton skirts and sheer dresses right straight through to their underwear/panties/drawers/ unmentionables--whatever you want to call them..LOL ha ha WHY did everyone stop wearing slips!!?? I wear slips! They are very thin, dont' seem to make me that much hotter in the summer, and they do a job. They are not nearly as hot and uncomfortable as the girdles were, ha ha LOL Personally I think women's legs looked so much nicer with hose on and these days women don't even bother to put on hose to wear to weddings or church or any formal occasion, or even to business meetings. To me it's like they forgot half their outfit....but then again, I am "old fashioned" I guess. Hose can be hot and uncomfortable in the hot summers, that much is true. I just think good "foundation garmets" as we called them, really help the whole outfit look much better and pulled together. I loved this post and all about the attire as well as the department store, the lunch counter, and the rules of the dress code where you worked.

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    1. I'm so glad you liked it, Debbi! The department stores in downtown Nashville were so nice back in the 50s and 60s that it was an event to go to them, and sales people were plentiful. It seems like you can hardly find one to wait on me now when I go. One salesperson seems to cover a whole department.

      And the dress code at work was not much different from any big company in Nashville that other friends worked at.

      Your comment on what we see on the streets today reminded me of a Facebook post I saw yesterday. But instead of a man with his pants belted under his underwear, it was a woman--and her underwear was a thong! My cousin who posted it said: "I just have no words."

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    1. I do too, Brenda, and appreciate having a place to share them!

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  5. This post did indeed move me. I have some recollection of those days, although I am somewhat younger. I miss many things from those times, but not girdles, white gloves, hats or high heels. By the way, I also collect vintage ladies' magazines (I have hundreds) and love some of the novels of the era. 'The Egg and I' and 'The bad Seed' come to mind. I especially miss Norah Lofts, Taylor Caldwell and John D. Macdonald. But every time period has its pleasures and joys, and I feel blessed to be alive and well on such a sunny day. Thank you for your posts. I wish we were neighbors.

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    1. Hello Alexandra, I wish we were neighbors too! We could compare our magazine collection. I was fortunate enough to have another fellow blogger, Peg, gift me with a stack of 1920s Modern Priscilla magazines recently. Even my husband loves looking at the old ones.

      And I collect Taylor Caldwell books too!

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    2. OOOOHHHHH!!!!!!! I covet those Modern Priscillas. Time for you to have a cup of tea in a china cup and saucer and enjoy them. I'll be right over. (I have to buy a plane ticket first.)

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  6. Such a great memory and wonderful share today Dewena. I remember when LLegs panty hose came out in the little white eggs. Such great memories.
    Have a great new week.
    xoxo
    Kris

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    1. Thank you, Kris! And I know you are having a wonderful time moving into your new home. And welcoming sweet basset hound Peggy Sue into your home!

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  7. your writing here is like reading a novel!
    I kept expecting for it to move into the plot of the story!
    love the red mg! that is the TRUE Dewena!!! the wind in her hair and freedom! from girdles and panty hose and sleeves in sheaths!
    you can describe a department store that I immediately want to go visit! from the hosiery dept right down to the lunch counter! I can HEAR it. and smell it. they DID have a very special smell didn't they! you have made it all come back with this post. I was only a few years behind you in the grown ups world but I remember every single thing you describe here. and I laughed at your mincing steps to hold up your sliding panty hose!!!
    sorry! LOLOL!

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    1. Thank you so much, Tam! Or as I call you, my Editor! (She proof reads my books, folks, and finds so many typos!) I'm glad you think that MG is the real Dewena because I sure feel more like my red Honda Pilot now!

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  8. Thank you for sharing your memories and photos.
    xx oo
    Carla

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  9. Oh how I love this story! I guess I never thought about the evolution of hose/garters/undies! How fun that you are able to capture every detail. And no sleeveless tops! What a change from now! And now, I'm craving a tuna stuffed tomato!

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    1. Thank you, Leslie Anne! My husband and I both have been craving a tuna stuffed tomato now, too!

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  10. I was right with you dewena, from buying the stockings to shimmying down the street mortified at the thought of them ending up by your ankles. I never wore stockings (unless I was in a show) and detested pantyhose to no end, but I adored your imagery today, especially that MG. Truly one of the coolest fun cars EVER!

    xxx

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    1. Unless you were in a show? Doreen, have you been holding out on me or has my senior memory been acting up again? I'm going to be after you for THAT story!

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  11. I love your story!! I grew up a little behind you, and never had any city or career life, so I have only vicarious enjoyment of the classy clothes and lingerie that you describe. Your experience, and watching my grandmother get dressed... Thank you!

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    1. Thank you so much, Gretchen! I'm so glad you liked this post!

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  12. I was entranced reading this, Dewena. My late mother always said I was born in the wrong era. It's sad to remember that women had so many rules to adhere to, including our attire, but it was attractive, wasn't it? Nowadays, women don't wear pantyhose to work or with dresses at all. Bare legs. And they have to be perfect, of course. Who has that other than a twenty year old?

    I just love this post-you are an incredible writer and story teller!

    Jane

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    1. Jane, I'm thrilled you liked this and I know I was born in a special time, growing up in the 50s. I do like to revisit those days. I appreciate my dear readers being so nice to come along with me.

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  13. I remember visiting those department stores that were so glamorous with all the different departments in our nearest BIG city, Quincy, Ill. And tuna salad at the lunch counter is such a typical lunch from back then. Thanks for taking me back and letting me see you in your sophisticated glory. That car!!!! Great post.

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    1. That's so nice of you, Brenda! I am so grateful that you have listened to my stories for a long time now, I believe we connected when I first began to blog on my other blog because I was reading some old ones the other day and saw your comments way back then. That means a lot to me!

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  14. You are a born storyteller, Dewena. I followed along, sad when your tale came to an end. More please...and yes, I remember the pantyhose in eggs! And I can picture your outfit, my mom had many of those same items in her closet. Sometimes, I think I was born in the wrong time ~ if only for the clothes!

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    1. Kim, my friend, I would love to think that your beautiful and elegant mother and I had some similar clothes from those days!

      Thanks to the video I saw of you, I can definitely picture you in some of the feminine styles of the 50s and 60s!

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  15. I absolutely love this little peek into your past, Dewena! You are a wonderful writer, my friend!

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    1. Thank you so much, Debbie! I appreciate your kind words!

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  16. I enjoyed this stroll with you down memory lane Dewena! I never enjoyed pantyhose, but I suppose, I would have preferred stockings over pantyhose after hearing of that terrible experience, lol! Glad they did manage to improve them! Your storytelling is superb, you drew me right into your story, I felt as if I was stepping out with you to get those stockings. Hugs :)

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post, Marilyn! You have no idea how encouraging all the wonderful comments have been.

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  17. I loved this post, Dewena! Your writing is so descriptive...I could envision it all. I grew up wearing pantyhose and I always loathed them. How I remember as a teenager, getting ready for church and me and/or my sister realizing we didn't have any hose without runs. My father would make an "emergency" stop at 7-11 and we'd run in and buy a pair of L'Eggs pantyhose and put them on in the car, lol. I worked at Marshall Field's department store and we had to wear dresses (sleeveless not allowed) or skirts. If we wanted to wear pants, it had to be a pants suit. Thanks for the look down memory lane!

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    1. Thank you, dear friend! And I didn't know you worked at Marshall Field's...what is that wonderful candy a friend of mine used to order each year from them? I've never been to Chicago but it's a favorite of my daughter and I used to get Christmas gifts from her trips there.

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  18. Oh my, I LOVED this post. You wrote it so well, Dewena. Sigh . . . wouldn't I love to go back to those days of dressing up. I was just thinking about how many pretty dresses I have and no occasion to wear them. I buy them because they're so pretty. Maybe I should just wear them anyway!
    Oh, I know things weren't perfect by any means back then, but your words just bring back a time of ladylike-ness and femininity. And oh . . . your car!! How much fun. I can see you driving with the top down and the scarf flowing out behind you! xo Deborah

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    1. Deborah, I think you should wear those dresses! Our 5-year old granddaughter wears dresses almost exclusively, the fancier the better. And she already has her own distinctive sense of style, which she got from her mother's unerring style.

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  19. Oh, Dewena, I LOVE this post! I remember buying stockings in the department stores, too. I long for the days when dressing was elegant, from your head to your toes and everything underneath;) Your writing is soothing and beautifully descriptive. Thank you for a lovely post.

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  20. Oh, these vintage pictures are so delightful, along with your stories. Yes, I remember the pantyhose, and didn't mind wearing them cause they made it look like your legs were tan and slender, but I got many a run in them and had to keep buying more hehehe. It sounds like you are a classy dresser...love that, and wish I saw it more. : )

    ~Sheri

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  21. Oh my - so many memories! Do you remember the elastic garters ladies wore to roll the stockings down below the knees and hold them there - skirts were long enough to hide them, unless the wind blew! The best part of pantyhose to me were the support kind. For me that was a relief to do away with the pantie girdle and have that backside support along with the stockings! I wonder how much money I spent all told over my working years after my children were all in school. In 1963 my third child was born when I was 23!

    Thank you sweet lady for this trip down memory lane - which is what your whole blog is!

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  22. This post made me smile both at your predicament and at mine which was quite similar. Recently, I saw a photo with Cary Grant wearing his trademark hat and overcoat looking smashing. The other photo showed someone, perhaps famous but not to me, wearing his pants low with drawers and looking like he dressed from the missionary barrel. How times have so totally changed...and not for the better, me thinks.

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  23. My dear Dewena, you CAN have one more day of shopping at Cain-Sloan - you can have as many as you wish, just keep on writing them into your life - and ours! I, for one, want to know what the basement cafeteria was featuring the following day, as I would also love to relive feeling as light as a feather, flying over hard pavement in high heels, free of blisters and bunions and burn!

    As you know, I've been island hopping (in cushioned sandals, fyi!) and as such, have been away from the blogosphere, but what a wonderful surprise to find such an engaging and eloquent story at Dewena's Window upon my return!

    Of all the types of hosiery you mentioned, I remember L'Eggs, although I never purchased the brand, having always worn packaged nylons since I was a teenager, mainly in 'nude' for the same reasons you did!

    Loved this peek into your career girl memories. Meet you at the lunch counter for more!

    Hugs,
    Poppy

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  24. Dewena I just loved this piece of precious history and am now going to share it on FB with my DIL :)

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  25. I can picture all this! It sounds so cool I never had a job,I got married before I finished high school and we had a baby soon after. I never worked outside the home (which was enough), but I remember changing to pantie hose, first in the cardboard package, then the L'Eggs! What a difference.
    I always wanted the Tan--but like you, I had to wear the nude. Remember when we'd still wear them with sandals until someone had the bright idea--we didn't need them, and they looked awful! My sister-in-law insisted wearing them was proper, but I stopped--and finally she looked around all around to see the bare-legged women in sandals! For once she was wrong. Very rare! :) 9 Of course, my mother had been wearing the kind with the line that they must keep straight..and my grandmothers either wore the knitted white or black ones with their long dresses. How hot they must have been! But, i love to see pictures of them--those women I loved so much, wearing the white in the summer and the dark in the winter in their simple dresses. They got in the wood, heated the water from the well, cooked on wood stoves, washed on a board, used lines for hanging. They seemed to be as happy as anyone I knew--and I was happy to be with them. They never shooed me away, although I must have kept them from their work. thank God for Grandmothers. Now I will soon be a great-grandmother!

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  26. I wish they wouldn't have, but I do my best trying to live them ;) I wear a girdle and stockings and I hate pantyhose! LOL

    xo

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RH and I love your comments! They are sent to my email for moderation first but I do hit publish as soon as I read them. A few commenters' comments are not sent to my email for some reason but I try to visit that section on my design page twice a day to see if they're hiding there so I can publish them. I went the first 3 years of blogging not knowing that was there and when I discovered it there were many pages of old comments that never got published. I was so embarrassed and contacted recent ones but hid in shame from those who had given up long ago.

In these busy days I appreciate so much when you take time to comment. Thank you so much!

Dewena