Tuesday, June 14, 2011


The fifties woman

I had a great mother.  Everyone should have a great mother, but not everyone does unfortunately.  My mother was very different than most of my friends' mothers, very un-Donna Reed.  She wasn't into personal vanity, or clothes or shiny things (we had no money for it anyway)  My mother was a crazy little Sicilian lady who was years ahead of the movement for Women's Liberation, although she would have conked me on the head if I had told her she was a women's libber. 

However...she did tell me the following: I didn't need a man to have worth as a woman and she told me that anything a man could do, I could do.  She said any woman was as good as any man.  Not radical thought at the present but in the fifties and early sixties she was a raving revolutionary.  Of course, this was the same woman who told my brother Napoleon survived the Russian winter by living inside of a dead horse.  He announced that in class and was nearly beaten to death by an exasperated nun.

Momma also used to forbid me to go to mass if I put up a fuss.  She would say, "Don't you dare walk into that church with that attitude, sister.  Why it would be an insult to God, you sitting there sulking and bored. I don't want you within ten feet of that church!  Don't you dare!"  Just for that I went to church every week - I showed her.

I was thinking of her just now and how my brother and I would tease her so badly sometimes. Especially this one time.  She had a big old fur coat.  It was probably a wonderful coat - in the twenties.  In the sixties it was nothing more than a humiliation waiting to happen to her children.  We called it her gorilla coat and we would whine and wail if she tried to wear it.  My mother had a solution that only she could have thought up.

She took the coat into the dining room and worked and worked, then came out and stood before us.  "What do you think?" she asked.  We were flabbergasted.  She had taken scissors and cut the coat off at the hip line.  There was no hemming involved.  Just a clean chop straight across.  My brother summed it up best.  "Now its the monkey coat."  He and I laughed until our sides ached.

She disappeared once again with the coat.  We could hear her swearing and cutting and swearing and cutting.  She came out and stood before us again.  "Well?"  She had cut the sleeves off midway.  It was my turn.  "Looks like a monkey t-shirt."  Boy was she mad at us. 

She disappeared again and I could hear more snips and curses.  I peaked in and saw the pile of dead pelts and she slipped on the last vestiges of the garment.  Her eyebrows went up hopefully.

"Monkey hat." 

She chased me for a good half hour after that.

Please choose your favorite wet man - only from these three - or any other you like.  A trip for sixteen Tampa if you choose the right one.  (guess which one is mine)


Kathy SF said...

Is there really any other choice? *biased of course*

LucyParker said...

"I Remember Mama" always comes to mind when people talk about their old-world parents. My parents were other-worldly, which isn't the same as your God-fearing, common sense, frugal mother who lived her life with dignity and humor. Your mama lived by the rules in spite of having been given two circus hellions as children. I hope she's in a special place in heaven with her stylish fur coat.

What movie is the white fur coat picture from? I can't place it.

Wet men! I have to pick one? Surely the answer is all three. Tampa here I come.

Karen Wasylowski said...

My parents were actually the Coneheads from France. The people playing my parents were made from marzipan.

Libby said...

I like your mom. Every kid needs encouragement and rules. :)

Karen Wasylowski said...

Thanks Libby. I liked her too. So many times I thought of myself as the stuffy older person and she was the kid. She was a lot of fun.

Elizabeth said...

Neat blog.....NEW FOLLOWER.

Just stopping by to say hello and to take a look around.

I am having a Father's Day giveaway on my blog if you would like to stop by.


Hope you can visit.