My first musing was looking at the tiny woman who bore eight children. Of the entire herd of children, not one of them is petite. Yet here is this little woman who maintained that shapely figure throughout her child bearing years. Even though she died when I was too young to realize how tiny she was, I know she hadn't changed much because one of the comments I heard. Some relatives were removing her clothes for my dad, and one aunt mentioned that she had the same clothes from the time the two of them married, seventeen years before. Of course, with that many children, who needed clothes regularly, there wasn't much to spare for a new outfit very often.
As an adult, I know it is not odd to have clothing last for a long time. If we grow out of them, it is normally due to an expanding waist, and we rarely wear clothes out. However, back when this picture was taken, it was a time when people knew what they purchased had to last. Clothing, like so many other items, was actually made to last. It was well sewn out of sturdy material so that a person could expect years of wear from it. My dad wore the same suit to his wedding as he wore for his wife's funeral, it was the only one he had until he remarried three years later. It didn't go out of style, fall apart, nor did he tire of it and just dispose of it. It was timeless and good quality and that was what mattered.
I still recall, as a small fry, being taught to darn socks. Really, think about that, if you ask most people under sixty what it means to darn a sock, they would look at you as if you'd lost your mind. Darning socks??? They may complain about the darned socks, and they may damn the holes in the socks, but darning them? Yep, it happened.
So as I admired the old picture of my mother, I marveled at the consistency of life at the same time. Today we seem to watch as our weight fluctuates up and down the scale, requiring more than one size of clothing. And styles come and go at a moment's notice. The dresses are short, then the hems lengthened, and go up, the skirts might be form fitting one moment and flowing the next. So it takes regular purchases if one chooses to be stylish. No more keeping hold of the timeless, classic style and dressing it up with the broach, the scarf, perhaps a shawl or sweater to set it off, and let's not forget the hats or other hair trimmings.
Yet from my vantage point today, those women, all three of them are gorgeous; they are classy and beautiful. Looking at them, it is tempting to believe they are socialites out for an evening on the town, rather than a gathering of girls for no particular reason other than enjoying a casual meal and a little girl talk. They seem too elegant for it to be such a common outing. And I also know that most probably, those outfits would be taken home, and carefully hung up and brushed out, checked for any staining or damage, and instantly attended to if any fault were found. They had to, they valued what they had because they realized replacing it would require saving and careful consideration among other necessities.
We don't often even consider what we wear today. Many things are bought for a single use, never intending to wear them again. If they are damaged, we certainly don't consider what it will take to repair them, we don't have the time or the inclination to deal with it. And if a person were to try to locate a tailor or seamstress for the needed repair, they'd have to look long and hard to locate them.
I'm not sure if that's good or bad. The only thing I am fairly certain of, is that we rarely will ever look as elegant as those ladies out for their weekly dinner, even on those very special occasions like anniversary. That is a loss, because we could use a little more class to admire these days.