Monday, February 18, 2008

Changing Styles

Every morning in the 1930s, my mother put on her stockings as she got out of bed, securing them with roll garters. Next came her leather shoes with Cuban heels and string ties. And so she was shod till bedtime. Mother was, like most ladies at the time, a stay-at-home mom. She wore calf-length dresses with a collar and long or elbow-length sleeves, and when she got to the kitchen to fix breakfast, she put on a full length apron, which also became part of her daytime ensemble. She had long hair, knotted at the back of the neck until I was about five years old when she defied my father and had it cut very daringly in a short straight style--longer on the sides than in the back--very much like young women wear today. I sometimes think of her discomfort when I slip into my slides (sans stockings), pull on a pair of shorts or Capri pants and a sleeveless top and begin my day. Forget the apron; I don't even own one.
Yet everything old is new again. Capri pants have come and gone in style at least twice in my lifetime. Short, straight hairdoes were popular in the 1920s, again in the 1950s, and today, as they say, anything goes. Ladies would not have thought of wearing long pants for daytime casual garb in the 1930s unless they were Jean Harlow or Kathryn Hepburn. But at least they were out of stays by then, and their feet didn't hurt at night. And if they were warm with no AC or window fans, they sat on the porch with a big palmetto fan and passed the time of day with neighbors.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Reading Old Favorites

Hi, Friends and Readers,
Do you ever go back and re-read novels that were your favorites years ago. I do. There is a reason why those plots are so treasured in your memory, and it is amazing how many details you have forgotten in those stories. Not the main story line, of course, but the ambience of the period, the dialogue that reflected the protagonist's character, and the minor characters that added so much to the mix. Before the hurricane, I had dozens of hard cover books by my favorite authors --John Grisham, Rosamunde Pilcher, and Richard Paul Evans, who wrote stories that touched your heart. I lost the books that were downstairs in my townhouse in the flood, and I had to give away--it breaks my heart to say it--many books I had no room for in the tiny apartment we rented in Kenner for a year after Katrina. Later, I bought many of those old books at Paperback Palace in Kenner and read them again, because I can no more go without good reading than I can go without food and water. If you have some golden oldies like this, go back and read them again. Give yourself a treat. I'm presently re-reading King's Row, one of my all-time favorite stories. Good luck and good reading!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Nostalgia Series

Hi, Friends and Readers,
Let me tell you how the notalgia series (New Orleans in the 20s, 30s, 40s etc.) got started. I never intended it to be a series at all. Like most writers, I wanted to record the memories of my childhood. I wanted to share recollections of the City Park swimming pool, which seemed so gigantic to me as a child; of the concert stage where dancing schools performed in glittered costumes and Ruby Keeler tap shoes on Sunday nights; and of roller skating in the Peristyle. I wanted to tell those too young to remember how shopping downtown was a dress-up affair, and how the now cold, forbidding hotel exteriors that stand shoulder to shouder on Canal Street were then beehives of activity, with stores like Maison Blanche and D.H. Holmes offering everything from ladies wear to sewing notions to haircuts, Heavenly Hash, toys, and books. "Dime stores" like Kress and McCrory's sold ladies' underwear, cosmetics, and instant photos, four for a quarter. The "Thirties"book was a hit and I was asked to do "The Forties" and so the series was born. Today, there are six in the series: New Orleans 1900-1920, N.O. in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. They are available at retail stores,, and through me at $24 + postage. All liberally illustrated. Email me. I'd love to hear your memories.