Roses are Red…

The olde nursery rhyme, Roses are red, etc. is probably one of the first rhymes that American children memorize. It’s a charmer for a young child, easy to recite, and to manipulate the last two lines for their own needs be that loving or cutting.
rosese nasty

I remember loving Valentine’s Day from the early days of elementary school. Each teacher I had would lavishly decorate a box that would hold all the valentines our classmates brought to school for their friends. They would be distributed at one time on V Day. All the kids waited anxiously,( the less popular ones probably more anxious than the self assured), hoping to have a substantial accumulation of envelopes piled on their desks to confirm he/she was not an outcast. Unfortunately, these were the yoyo(you’re on your own!) days. There were no mandates that a student should bring or make a card for each classmate.  The distribution of cards was inevitably unequal, and actually an unnamed popularity contest.  I remember the distribution being occasionally excruciating as I waited for a card that failed to materialize. Oh, the heartbreak!

THE powerful and mysterious VALENTINE BOX would appear several days before V Day. They were mostly crepe paper works of art that any young  child would think is gorgeous. I remember studying their construction each time I walked past the teacher’s desk, hoping hoping hoping that my name would be on a reasonable number of envelopes.

caany hearts

Some cards from friends included some small candies which would be an added bonus. Let’s face it, the chalky pastel heart sayings never tasted good, but they were fun to look at and I managed to eat them even if they didn’t taste very good.

I think by the time we got to middle school the Valentine Distribution was over. At least I have no memories of such events. Just as well, because I know it would have been painful for me. Those years were awful as far as I was concerned. I didn’t know who my friends were from day to day.
valentine

I used to enjoy going antiquing in New England with my Mom. I quickly began to collect vintage Victorian Valentines. I think they’re beautiful to this day.
victoriaan valentine

The truth is I like to decorate things. Vday makes it easy. When one of my granddaughters passed through her first VDay I saw it as a perfect opportunity to dress her up. See digital card below.
nat valentines day

Vinegar Valentines could be found in the Victorian era if needed.
vinegar-valentines-lemon_valentine

Fast Forward to having my own family. I tried to do it up for my kids when they were young. My mother would always send large boxes of candy for each child, along with other Valentine -themed miscellany. My Dad had a grocery store, so I imagined that she had fun with a grocery cart at the candy counter piling up the junk. My kids were invariably thrilled. I kept the Valentine tradition going, probably longer than I needed to!

My parents gave me Valentine cards as long as they lived. My father often bought me a heart shaped box of Whitmans’s candy. That was a Big Deal, because he hated to shop, even though I knew he’d probably gone next door to the drugstore to buy the heart!   I’d kept those boxes as treasures and the chocolate scented paper cups and liners that contained the candy too. The lavish heart boxes resembled coffins as far as I was concerned, but they somehow managed to still look glamorous.

I continued the tradition of giving each of daughter a card each year, long after they were grown.

One year, after experiencing a drought of cards from my children, I let it be known that my feelings were hurt. The daughter I shared my sadness with, looked at me with alarm and curiosity. “Why should I give you a card?”she wanted to know. “After all, I am not your boyfriend.”

Now I still will get a card for my younger grandkids, but the older ones? They’re on their own! (TOTO)They never inquired why I stopped sending them cards.  Sadly, I don’t seem to be on their lists either, assuming they have one! But it’s understood we love each other, I hope!

A Contemporary Valentine:

Dear Donald Trump,
Roses are red,
Like, so red.
So red, you won’t even believe that they’re real roses.
Trust me, I know roses.
And these roses are red.

Remembering Bess

undergarments 1950's
My Mom center, L daughter Lara  and R daughter Brett .

We’d always celebrated my Mother’s birthday on January 3, until she informed us one day that she learned upon  getting a copy of her birth certificate, that her birthday was really January 2!  We all shook our heads in disbelief, but there it was in black and white, Jan 2.  These days, since she is no longer living, I tend to think of either or both days as her birthday.  This time of year triggers memories of Bess.

I easily remember her coming into my bedroom before she went to sleep , to kiss me goodnight. I always pretended to be sleeping, but waited patiently most nights for her sweet kiss.  What a nice game. I never did ask her if she realized, I’d been awake, all those times.

I loved to watch her get dressed to go out with my Dad.  Her bedroom, next to the bathroom, a little misty from the shower she’d just taken.  The door to her closet which held the only full length mirror in the house, would be ajar as she checked her progress.  Those were the years when a woman’s undergarments set the foundation for a well dressed woman. For a young girl watching the armor  applied to tame the mature feminine body, it was nothing less than fascinating.undergarments 1950's

 

My mother never ever got dressed without pulling on her girdle first.  When I questioned her about the procedure, she told me in no uncertain terms that she felt undressed with out it. I took her word for it and stopped inquiring.

Following her lead, when I became an adolescent, I decided I needed a girdle as well before going out on a date.  As a dancer, at this time of my life, I was very slender.  My Mom tried to tell me I didn’t need it, but I would have none of her reassurances.  The purchase of a girdle was a right of passage and I was hell bent on wearing one.

I got a stomachache midway through the date evening, excused myself, went to the bathroom and quickly pulled off the now loathsome girdle placing it in the trashcan, before returning to my date. Liberated!

Mom’s summer cologne in those years was usually Mary Chess, white lilac.  My love of the scent of lilacs equaled or surpassed hers and I too wore Mary Chess until it stopped being produced in the early ’60’s.

The choice of shoes completed her outfit and preparation.  She had about a dozen options, neatly displayed on her closet floor.  Years later, her oldest toddling granddaughter was attracted to that closet as if by a magnet.  She’d chose her (Mom’s)shoes to wear by some mysterious process and proceed to wear them around the second floor of my Mom’s house for several hours.  Mom never objected.

Today, I wonder how my Mom’s life might have been different if she’d been born a decade or two later.  She was one of the few working women I knew.  All of my friend’s moms were stay at home.

Mom put a lot of energy into making her home attractive and vibrant.  She boldly painted her kitchen ceiling red. She did not hesitate to go all white in her living room, reupholstering and recarpeting as needed.  The only caveat was it was not a room for children, only for company.  If kids tried to skirt the rule she’d quickly ask them to leave.  She cleverly converted New England antiques into working partners in achieving the look she sought.

She always needed and wanted a broader life, but my Dad insisted that if she was to work, it could only be for him, as a cashier in his grocery store.  I know she had bigger dreams, but never went after them.  She adored my father and stayed by his side, seldom complaining except when he spent most of Sunday golfing.  All through my childhood, she repeated to me, “Get out of Holyoke!”

I got the message along with the Mary Chess.

 

Things My Mother Told Me

It’s just as easy to do something right the first time. (Not true.  The trick is to try again.)

It’s just as easy to marry a rich man as a poor man.  (no comment.)

Let that be a lesson for you.  (It usually was)

Don’t come crying to me when…( I rarely did, as I remember.)

‘All right, but don’t come crying to me when you fall down.’

If you can’t say something nice about anyone, don’t say anything.(Still think of his one.)

You’re so selfish. (OUch!  hey I was a teen ager!  but, Essentially correct.)

You’re capable of being right on top. A straight A student if you really tried. (I didn’t really care, nor did I really try.)

I bend over backwards for you and all I get is a kick in the pants. (I think she must have meant forward.)

Don’t wear dirty sneakers.  ( I just ignored this mandate.)  Along with, “Go upstairs and change your shoes!)

Mothers have eyes in the backs of their head. (I believed it!) (Still do.)

I put you on a pedestal and you knock yourself off.  (so true, I didn’t like being on a damn pedestal.)

Waitressing:  It’s not a job for a nice Jewish girl. (The answer I’d get when I asked to go to the Cape to waitress for the summer with a non-Jewish friend.)

OK, what are YOURS?

The T Club Flashback

Flashback!  The year, 1960.or ’61.  The sound, jazz. The feel, beatnik wanna be.  The setting, a dingy nightclub under railroad tracks in run down industrial city.

It was the T Club.  I had one or two friends who I could easily convince to come along with me.  In order to get there, I had to get my Mother’s car.  That required some white lies, which I could easily justify to myself.   If I had told Mom the truth, she’d never would say yes. She probably would think I’d lost my mind.

It was a summer thing.  About once a week.  Head up a very long and dark flight of stairs to the closed-door at the top of the stairs.  Enter the dark and smoky T Club.  Take a seat at a small table near the stage.  Order cocktail(s). No id’s required. Smoke ciggies. Feel very devil-may-care.  Look around to see if my current crush might be there.  Rarely, but one could hope.  Zone out to the sound of jazz.  Look cool.  Feel cool. We didn’t call ourselves beatniks, but we were under the influence for sure. Continue reading “The T Club Flashback”