Museum of Ancient Times

Jim and I were recently invited to attend the wedding of my niece, Anne. It may seem ludicrous, but the first question that popped into my mind was, “Should I wear pantyhose?” Way back when, every woman wore pantyhose with her dress or skirt, or she was not dressed. (Click here for four reasons to wear pantyhose.) I hated to feel like an old lady, but habit won out. I dug around into the very bottom of the top drawer of my dresser, and found a pair, unworn for at least ten years. It felt like an archeological dig. And there were no runs in them, which was a miracle!

It made me think about other items and habits that used to be common and which have receded into the past. For instance, hankies. As a kid, I always had a balled up handkerchief in my pocket, and it was every bit as unsanitary as you can imagine. I still have a little pile of hankies in the top drawer of my dresser, and can’t bring myself to throw them away. There even used to be satin-lined trays for storing hankies.

Also, people used to write letters to one another. Here is a nice letter my sister Janet’s mother-in-law sent me along with some cookie recipes I had asked her for. Very few people nowadays take the time to do this.

This brings us to beautiful handwriting, something that has really fallen by the wayside. I think it matters how something is expressed. (Please see “A Story About the Little Word ‘And'” for more on this.)

Speaking of recipes, many women collected recipes from friends and relatives, and kept them in a little recipe box. This belonged to my mother-in-law, Nancy. Each card was a memento from the past.

No one seems to mail postcards anymore, but it used to be that if you were on a vacation, you conscientiously mailed postcards to all near and dear. Here is a postcard I sent to my sister Janet, from Stonehenge, circa 1974.


Here is an ancient telephone, from sometime in the 1970s, covered with dust and cat hair. We use it as an upstairs phone, and it’s fine.

Sometimes as I look at photos on someone’s smart phone, whizzing past hundreds of images, I can’t help but wonder if old style photos weren’t better. There were fewer of them, and are precious. Below, two photos of my dad, and me with my grandmother.

Hula hoops. All I can say is that in 1959, hula hoops were big. I was so excited.

Somewhere in the 1960s, a hairstyle called a “flip,” was big. You had to wear rollers, and I can remember sleeping on the rollers, to get the flip. I can also remember using empty orange juice concentrate cans as rollers. It seemed like such a good idea. Also, as straighter hair came in, I remember laying my head on on ironing board (object also eligible for Museum of Ancient Times, come to think of it) and ironing my hair. I was careful to use the “low” setting.

And from the cookbook, “McCall’s No Time to Cook: Meals in Minutes,” comes a recipe for a pineapple cheese ball that is a testimony to the times. Sociologists may disagree, but this particular recipe may have been responsible for the women’s movement. Women all over American, as they measured the bottom circumference of the cheese ball (it had to be 15-1/2 inches), threw down their sliced olives, and went marching.

Somewhere in 1962, I got a letter from my cousin Elizabeth, who lives in Grangemouth Scotland, mentioning a fab group called the Beatles, and it seems like, with the strum of a guitar, everything changed, and with Kennedy’s assassination in 1963,  brought us to the world we live in now. Below, a song that reminds me of the old days. Peace to you. Fran

10 thoughts on “Museum of Ancient Times

  1. Whoa — that party pineapple is something else. Thank you, Fran, for this wonderful trip into the past. When I was in high school, we were braiding our hair into dozens of tiny braids in order to get a wild & woolly look when they were undone. I got my mother to braid my hair. The result wasn’t as nice as your flip.
    It was awful, in fact.

  2. I think the last time I wore panty hose was…. nope. Can’t even remember. I do have a few pair in reserve for funerals and weddings, and nice to know they’re optional now! Thank you for the fashion tip and the memories – I’m 66 and you must be right around that age as everything registered strongly with me. Enjoy your summer!

  3. Fabulous blog today; we must be within a couple years of the same age. That could have been me with the Hula hoop. Those darn things broke so easily. Thanks for the blog!

  4. Loved this post! There is something about holding an old photograph and feeling the memories wash over you that is just priceless, a feeling like no other. It seems sad that todays’ generation will not get to experience that.

  5. You are in good company… mother used that exact same metal container to hold her recipes! And, it made the move with me to the apartment, so now I use it for my recipes (theroetically, since I don’t cook much). – Dawn

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