I grew up in the age when the old was fast giving away to the new, and nothing has slowed down yet.
But my grandmother came from the club-woman set of the 20's and 30's, and certain proprieties had to be observed. She would take my sister and I on a day-long trip for Easter shoes every year.
We used to go all over town, looking for the Right Shoes. Invariably I would look at five different stores and like the ones in the first store best. My grandmother was the perfect person to pull that stunt on, actually, because she Loved shopping. She knew what it meant to want a perfect outfit. We would go to Sanger-Harris, other places I forget.
We used to go to Kinney's shoes in the days that they X-rayed your feet for a perfect fit. That gimmick back-fired on them when people started talking about cancer risk. So far, my foot looks like a foot. I think the damned thing was broken all the time, anyway.
The place I remember best was Red Goose shoes. They had a metal Red Goose on the counter. And it did lay golden eggs--thick plastic ones with candy inside if you pulled its neck down. Can you doubt either my sister or I found an Easter shoe there every year?
So, white patent leather with little teardrop-shaped holes around the rim of the shoe. Thin white bobby socks underneath. An Easter dress, hand-sewn by Mom, usually. I had a pink straw hat with a curved brim. My sister had a wreath of artificial roses--white, so she could wear a yellow dress or a pink one. Hey, we even had White Gloves and little white patent leather purses. We were like Jackie Kennedy without the pillbox, I guess. Or the hair spray.
This year, I have the same hat for three years running. Pink straw, yeah. Hot Pink, though, not baby pink, with an enormous hot-pink wire ribbon affair on one side. I wear it with the one sun-dress that goes with it. I don't wear gloves, although, I have a pair of gloves from each of my grandmothers saved. My grand-dad's old tuxedo cummerbund and bow tie. I keep them in a Bonanza lunchbox from my grade school days, when I loved horses, in my closet. We liked Little Joe the best (cute, right?) but I secretly thought Hoss would be the nicest to talk to. Or the cook from China, who always seemed so pleased but all alone.
My sister and I were babes. Babes in the wood. Cute little girls in white patent leather shoes, playing like grown-ups with matching hand-bags. Those days of the club-woman are almost done, but nobody knew that then. We were practicing to be grown-ups in a world that changes faster than the seasons, in the years of Vietnam, when it all became clear there was no going back.