Friday, November 13, 2009

A Crinoline Lady

Recently I was telling Kate about the Collyer brothers and how their fatal passion for hoarding gave their name to fire department codes indicating a house packed to the gills with potentially flammable materials. As is so often the case, within a few days there was an article in the Wall Street Journal describing other tragedies caused by this addiction to collecting excess possessions.

I’m not guilty of this kind of behavior, although I will admit that as I was putting stuff back into the dining room and re-arranging the drawers in a couple of chests, I lovingly ran my hands over a few things which I have been hanging on to for over forty years.

My mother’s mother lived
about a mile away and every week day afternoon (except Monday: that was washday) my mother walked to my grandmother’s, where they sat and drank tea and knitted until Mrs Dale’s Diary was over and it was time to go and get our tea. Sometimes, instead of knitting, my mother would do what she called “her embroidery.” She would embroider pillow slips or tray cloths or little doilies. Some of these are now in my possession—rarely if ever used. I wash them once in a while, starch them, iron them and put them back in the drawer. I can’t bear to throw them away. I am not sure if they are all my mother’s work. Some of the white on white and cut work items are exquisite and I think they may have been done by my Auntie Doris. What I remember my mother doing were variations of a design known as “A Crinoline Lady” or sometimes “An Old Fashioned Lady”. It always involved a large crinoline skirt and a parasol and there were usually flowers or butterflies in the background. The Crinoline lady in the photograph on the left was on a pillow slip, finished with crochet work.

I’m not even sure if my mother used them. I treasure them, and hope that my similarity to Langley Collyer ends there.

1 comment:

Maggie May said...

Crinoline ladies and Mrs Dale's Diary. Now you have brought back distant memories!An age where there was more time!

Thank you for your lovely comments over at mine. It was good to hear from you again and I trust that you are feeling better as I believe you took a long absence due to illness, didn't you?

Nuts in May