By Judy Reiss
I know that I told you before that I lived with my father’s mother, my grandmother for a number of years when I was young. And I loved almost every minute of it. And because I was the only girl in the immediate family, my grandmother and I were very close. But what I found interesting then and still do, was that I never saw my grandmother when she wasn’t almost completely dressed! In her house in Cranford, New Jersey it was very easy for her because I had a little room that was just off her bedroom, so for her to dress and undress alone was very easy. However, at the Cape, where we spent summers, it wasn’t easy and I would have thought that it was impossible. She and I shared a very little bedroom and slept in what looked like a double bed but wasn’t. It was actually two tiny cot beds pushed together. And I have vivid memories of lying in my side of the bed and peeping out from under the covers to see if I could see her undress or even dress. But to no avail! What she did was put her nightgown over her head and let it fall to the floor and then she would remove all her under garments until she was ready for bed. And when she got dressed in the morning, she did the same thing in reverse.
Let me explain why I am sharing this very personal experience with you. My wonderful grandmother was born right after the Civil War in about 1870 and she wasn’t married until 1904. I believe she and her two sisters all were taught to dress and undress with modesty and alone! And it was a habit she never broke. She also shared with me many stories about her growing up experiences, which included wearing long, to the floor dresses. And I don’t believe she ever owned or wore a pair of pants! I have pictures of her wedding dress and one with both of her sisters and her mother too, which is amazing. It is a very formal portrait and all the women had their hair “up” and wore long, very ornate dresses. I remember very distinctly her telling me how the girls had to begin wearing long skirts when they were about 12 years old and how you never, ever let an ankle show!
Now, I thought about my grandmother and her wonderful and talented sisters this morning. As I was getting dressed I turned on the TV in my room and had the TODAY show on and even I was shocked! And I can’t even imagine what my grandmother would have thought. And I didn’t like the music the group of 4 girls were performing, but that didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was the outfits the young women were wearing. Or not wearing would probably be a better description! They had on so little that not much was left to the imagination. And all I could think of was how my poor grandmother and her sisters couldn’t even show an ankle!
I guess I am just getting old because I find that not only don’t I want to see all your body parts, naked and in person, I really don’t want to see all the performers as they strut their stuff and let all their stuff hang out! And although you never hear it, don’t you think that when the celebrities and performers all display themselves up close and personal, that the children and teenagers of today think it is all appropriate to wear the same non-clothing too? And I know that I am old but I still think it is shocking that the morals (or non morals) of today are made worse by TV and movies that show you not only what is what but how to do whatever you want to do, regardless of the consequences. And the consequences seem to be a whole population of unwed mothers and no fathers on the horizon. Whose fault is this? I don’t really think it is the children who have just veered off the straight and narrow path. No, I think it is the adults who refuse to take charge of their own children and those who not only allow this type of “entertainment” but produce it and make obscene amounts of money from them.
I don’t think I ever want to see the world going back to long skirts and never being able to show an ankle but I also know that the middle ground isn’t such a bad thing! I know that I probably sound like an old fart, but that is because I am! I would also like to mention that I grew up in the 40s, 50s, and 60s and all of us old farts had quite a good growing up experience! And the music was great too and of course, you could sing right along with just about everything!