Cumberland Times-News

Maude McDaniel - Living

July 2, 2011

The old times always come back except when you want them to

Something they never tell you about growing old is that, assuming you stick around long enough, you get to go through fashion trends all over again again that you thought you had outlived — thank goodness — 50 years ago.

Like hats. They are not just for the British royals any more.

One of the best days of my life was the day, sometime early in the 60s, I think, (one of the few good things that can be said for that decade) when I gave up on hats. It wasn’t for lack of them, either. As I’ve mentioned before, I had hats for every occasion, mostly church, where you would never be caught dead without one. (Though there’s probably no better place to be caught dead in.)

Those modern movies that dress their ’40s and ’50s women up in hats to go for walks or to go shopping are pushing it a little — I never wore a hat to the store in my whole life. They were mostly for church and, over the age of 14, you wouldn’t appear there without one! Or a reasonable facsimile.

And some of them were lovely. I adored my white straw half-cloche, with yellow flowers on it, that I wore for my going away outfit. (Nowadays, they don’t have going away outfits for after weddings, because brides and grooms don’t go away anymore — they’re either already there, as at destination weddings, or not planning to leave the reception any time soon, so they can get their money’s worth.)

But we left about 6 p.m. after the reception on our way to Canada, and I wore a beautiful grey suit with a yellow-and-grey stole and that hat — which I still have somewhere. There were other hats I loved, too — the dark blue straw picture hat, and the green felt pillbox (shades of Jackie Kennedy). Anyway, my point is that hats can be absolutely delightful to wear, or a pain in the neck, as they gradually got to be, especially when hairstyles began to trend very, very full, sometimes known as bouffant. Either you had to perch your hat on top of a huge head of hair, looking like an inverted cup and saucer, or else you went without a hat entirely — and that is what we all ended up doing, even to church. A few fashion plates who didn’t want to get rid of any of their complete outfits hung on a while, but most of us saw immediately the advantages of going hatless, and, believe me, I have never looked back.

Now, hats appear to be making a comeback, with all the bother and hair muss that come along with them. Luckily these things take time. I can only hope I will be gone before it becomes a moral law to wear hats again.

And here’s another possible horror story. Girdles and corsets seem very slowly and secretly, to be on their way back as well. In these days of female equality (more or less), it’s hard to imagine that anyone, male or female, would ever voluntarily adopt anything as constricting and uncomfortable as these, which are now being called, oh so innocently, shapers and skimmers. I beg you, both my dear readers, male and female alike, to resist the siren call of these evil inventions. I speak as one who wore one for some 30 years (not the same one) and, take my word for it, the slight improvement they make in some parts of your anatomy, is more than made up for by the corresponding bulges and increments in adjoning areas of your anatomy — and it ain’t a pretty picture.

Beyond that is the biscuit-dough effect. A dear relative of mine was unfortunate enough to live smack dab in the middle of an unbroken hundred-year range of corset-wearing history. She wore one all her life, except, I hope, for the first 10 years or so. When she took it off, the flesh underneath was like one of those modern mattresses where the imprint of your hand stays on forever — yep, just like biscuit-dough. Unbaked.

But I digress, as I so often do. What I meant to get at here was this: Where are the comebacks that we really need? What we need most nowadays is not a new era of hats, nor, heaven help us, corsets. If old styles must come back again, is it too much to ask that modesty, intelligence, and good clean humor also repeat themselves? I see advertisements for new fall TV shows (“Whitney,” “Playboy Club,” etc) and the clips leave no doubt but that they are more of the same our young people have been watching for the last few years — raunchy, violent and profane. (Whatever happened to the children’s hours on TV?) Between TV and video games (now protected by the Supreme Court), our kids have no choice but to become raunchy, violent and profane themselves, and totally uninnocent from kindergarten on.

Laugh if you want to, but the country was better off in the days of the “Lucy Show,” “the Dick Van Dyke Show,” and, yes, even “Father Knows Best,” where cursing, smut and uncommitted sex were unheard of, and the fun was rooted in normal human and family situations, instead of trumped-up trash.

I don’t ask for typewriters back again, or old-fashioned paper maps, or the geometrical print dresses the old women wore in the 1950s. (But those are back anyway! In strapless, thigh-high, neckline-down-to-here teen dresses.) I just want the spirit of the old days back, when kids didn’t have to grow up at the age of six.


(I just got back from grocery-shopping. How about bringing back the old prices, while we’re at it!)

Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears on alternate Sundays in the Times-News.

Text Only
Maude McDaniel - Living
  • Trivial questions you don’t have to answer

    Every so often in this life, my mind, all on its own, generates questions that have no real answers. So I have decided to pass them on to you. I’m tired of them. If you come up with any answers, let me know. Remember when TV jealously guarded the time zone before 9 p.m. for wholesome shows that children could watch. My gosh, how many years ago was that? It seems like another world nowadays, when you can see murders, torture and rape, or those implied, every hour on the hour, somewhere on your public screen. It might be comforting then, to remember that most children nowadays are glued to their little machines with whole different worlds on them, that they can access all day long. Except that in these different worlds they also can view murders, torture and rape on demand.

    April 20, 2014

  • Rusty writes about the nature of doghood

    I am a dog.
    Therefore I bark.
    I don’t understand why it is so hard for humans to understand this.
    I mean, there are certain things that come with the territory, right?

    April 5, 2014

  • Free-range reminiscing and occasional nostalgia

    When I was in grade school, (many more years ago than when either of you were in grade school) my daily winter (fall, spring) routine included walking to school across a railroad track.

    March 22, 2014

  • Beatles return us to what might have been

    Here’s a a free gift from Goldy (to your left), and it should get us going with a good laugh, that both my readers will approve of. Then, after that (fair warning) I am going to turn a little sour.

    March 8, 2014

  • What’s missing in TV cooking shows? Lots

    As if badmouthing cupcakes isn’t bad enough — I have to go on and say this: I think the plates of food that are winning so many of the prizes on the Food Channel are well — boring.

    February 22, 2014

  • Only one person doesn’t like cupcakes

    Cupcake-wise, the last four or five years have ballooned into a huge plus for almost any bakery that attempts them. (Not to mention the ballooning of many of the individuals involved.) You could call cupcakes the up-cakes of our time. Well, you could, but I guess only I would, and even then only in a column on a very good day, when everything else was go!

    February 8, 2014

  • Some of us are ‘privy’ to certain information

    Outhouses used to be an object of fascination for me. (and in fact I wrote a column about them in 2007. Since we have all forgotten that, I decided to write another one this week.

    January 25, 2014

  • Just the right thing for very cold weather

    Beginning the new year with a tasty recipe always seemed like a good idea to me. Unfortunately, in this day and age, it should be a healthy recipe, and I’m a little short of those. It turns out that the period I learned to cook in (the 40s and 50s) was not noted for its general nutritional values. Although, of course, we thought we were pretty much on course there. Later, the next generation informed us that we were way off track and what did we mean by raising them in such unwholesome habits. (Foodwise, I mean. They arrived at certain other unwholesome habits on their own.)

    January 12, 2014

  • Who thinks these things up, anyway?

    Here are some of the best jokes (of the email world) in 2013. Have a Happy New Year, as I plan to!

    December 28, 2013

  • How do we compare with rest of the U.S.?

    I recently purchased “The World Almanac 2014,” reviewing events of this year, energy, government, science and technology, past and present celebrities, U.S. and world history, nations of the world and sports.

    December 14, 2013

Latest news
Must Read
House Ads