Tuesday, May 3, 2011


The downside of landscaping with rock and drought-tolerant plants is weeding. The first year or two didn’t seem so bad, but now it’s quite a chore. Mike finished the first weeding of the spring yesterday morning and then we went to “Bloomers” where we bought ten more drought-tolerant perennials. As soon as we arrived home, we planted them. Purchases included stonecrop ground covers, purple coneflowers, and “hens and chicks.” We could -- and definitely should -- plant more. 

After lunch Mike left for the afternoon and I settled down to some organizational work. “We should go for the walk now,” said Nellie. I tried to put her off, but she continued to insist. I guess her bones were telling her something because a strong wind came up. A small box flew past the window spilling a few weeds on its way to the other side of the yard. A garden kneeling pad was next.

“Goodness! I have to go out there,” I told Nellie. She was ready. She actually prefers to be out in the wind rather than in the house listening to all the thumps, bumps, and crashes. “Just let me pick up these things and then we’ll go for the walk,” I told her.

But what to wear on my head? It really wasn’t cold but I needed protection from the wind. My customary visor would just blow right off. I ended up wearing the red fleece “gnome” cap. “What I need is a scarf!” I thought to myself.

Back in the ‘50s – and I suspect for some decades prior – a scarf was an essential in a woman’s wardrobe. A scarf was a simple square of cloth folded into a triangle and tied under the chin. Though informal, it was useful – totally packable and even acceptable at church if you left your hat at home. It protected one’s hair and ears from wind, rain, or cool weather.  

Scarves could be practical squares of fabric, such as a housewife might wear outdoors, or more exotic and expensive for evening events. A scarf made a useful, affordable gift, much like a man’s tie. I had several scarves. One had nursery rhyme characters on it and a blue border, the other was a lovely square of white cloth, but it’s only through nostalgia that I speak of these fondly. I pretty much didn’t like wearing a scarf. In the first place, I didn’t see other little girls wearing them, but Mother saw the scarf as practical headgear if not a fashion statement. She would tie it good and tight, and though it would stay, I felt somewhat claustrophobic wearing it. To this day I dislike tight headgear (motorcycle helmets).

In the ‘60s, scarves began to disappear, probably because of bouffant hairstyles. (Remember the “flip”?) Scarves morphed into these little triangles with ties, sometimes matching the dress, and they could be tied under the hair in the back rather than under the chin – a “mod” look that somehow didn’t work for me. Then scarves were gone altogether, at least in the sense that every woman should have one.

[I'm sorry the above photo didn't scan clearly. It was taken by a neighbor in May 1955. I don’t really remember those folks, but the house sat on the alley behind the Smolinski’s. Note that I’m wearing a coat. Yes, Idaho could be cold in May. People have forgotten that.]


drMolly, the BeanQueen said...

AHA!!! & now you know someone who wears them all of the time! Yes, I use scarves to keep my head warm almost always instead of a hat. For some reason hats make my head itch and always fall off when I need them to be on my head. Thus I use a scarf, LOL. I guess when the two that I have wear out I shall have to make them myself.

Leah said...

My mother, born in 1920, loved her head scarves. She wore them her entire life, always in winter, until she died in 2007. She had silk ones with beautiful designs and she would point out how lovely they were. As Kathy said, when the fashion for scarves faded, I was glad to see them go. Mother, never liked wearing hats, especially when "required" for certain social events. She felt comfort came before fashion and when it was cold and windy, out came the scarves.

Chris said...

I, too, remember wearing scarves, and I, too, disliked them them. I remember a red wool one, but no matter what they were made of, I felt like I was being choked. I still don't like anything around my neck. If I have to wear a hat (which is almost never) I'll wear a stocking hat. It's left over from my skiing days.

(And I could never make my hair "flip". One side would cooperate, and the other wouldn't.)

Kathy said...

I don't know, Dr. Molly. You can probably find a scarf someplace. But you might enjoy making your own. I don't suppose there's much to cause wear and tear on a scarf, though I see my white one definitely looks used.

Interesting that your mother preferred scarves to hats, Leah.

And speaking of being choked, I remember wearing hats that had elastic attached to pull under the chin. I could hardly abide that but without it, the hat wouldn't stay on.

My hair didn't flip either, unless by accident, and that doesn't count. My hair didn't do anything very fashionable. Mother said it was my fault -- that I never trained my hair to do anything. I beg to differ on that -- politely, of course. Her other daughters had lovely thick hair that worked so well for them.

Leah said...

Actually, my mother only wore scarves to keep her head warm. When a social occasion called for a hat in the 30's, 40's or 50's, she hardly ever wore one. When she moved to Denver in the mid 1950's, she was happy that people in Colorado were more relaxed about fashion. She said she was happy that women didn't wear hats all the time. By this comment, she meant the fashion statements that women made in that era with their hats. In the 1950's, women in the midwest and East coast for that matter, were still wearing fashionable hats.