This is the view from my room in the Holiday Inn Express. It is the only redeeming quality of my stay here. I was looking at this upon my return late this afternoon from Brooks Brothers , as I watched the herons lope by and the cord grass wave in the breeze my mind wandered into the den of my Grandmother’s house in Atlanta. “Mama”, as we called her, had a rather large provincial style urn that rested on the hearth of the fireplace and in it she had arranged a mass of sea oats. She was always chic. Everything she touched with her immaculately manicured hands spotted with age and silky smooth with a delicate scent of lotion,always looked effortless yet perfect in their arrangements. Mama always had a quiet way of accomplishing her tasks whether they be artistic or of the mundane variety. She never made a big deal out of anything she did. She did these things, I suppose ,to please herself and in so doing pleased us as well.
When my Sister Michele was sixteen years old she took a cruise with a lot of our classmates from school. I didn’t want to go but Michele has that get up and go gene that seems to pass among the women in our family. My Grandmother and Mother decided that she must have a different outfit to wear every evening of the cruise. Of course this is the way people used to dress for dinner in my Mother’s younger lifetime and in Mama’s lifetime. My Grandparents traveled a few times rather extensively in Europe on their honeymoon spending almost a week in Mussolini’s Italy. While there they took a gorgeous panoramic shot of the coliseum which I have today. My sisters have the clanky charmed studded bracelets Mama brought back and at time wore in profusion on her wrists. Twenty years later on their anniversary my Grandparents returned to the places visited on the first journey. When they arrived for a three nights stay in Rome my Grandmother said all the charm was missing. There was so much electricity in the air before with Mussolini that years later on their second visit she found it poor and dirty. Luckily for me, Papa took another photo of the coliseum and I have that one too. On their honeymoon Mama always wore Evening in Paris. She said she thought it was the best smelling perfume she had known up to that time,later she decided it was Shalimar with White Shoulders running a close second.So when Michele decided to go on her first cruise Mama, in a nostalgic mood and Mother got busy planning her evening attire.
She would have five nights at sea lazily sailing on the Caribbean with one night at the Captain’s table. My Grandfather, Papa, was calling in a favor for that invitation. I don’t remember all the out fits but two come to mind. One was a red and black taffeta plaid number with lug o’ mutton sleeves and a cocktail length skirt . The other ensemble consisted of a long full pink taffeta skirt with attached cumberbund and a pink pastel printed chiffon blouse that buttoned to the neck . One demure and one a bit more sexy. All the women in my Mother’s family could sew and they decided to make these dresses.
They worked for many evenings and hours. They fitted a sometime petulant sister and pulled open seams and adjusted and even took apart an old pearl choker of my great grandmother’s for buttons on the chiffon blouse. She was ready for than a Carnival Cruise line. Actually looking back on it she was more properly attired for the QE2.
Michele loved her time on the ship. She took many photos. After they were developed Mother was looking at them and became alarmed. I knew what she was angry about as I had already seen them. The night Michele and her friends dined with the captain she wasn’t wearing her demure pink chiffon and taffeta. No, she was in a tight white micro mini jean skirt with red satin camisole and matching white denim bolero jacket! Michele told me that she wore some of the dresses but that she received so many looks from the other passengers and crew members that she ditched them after the second night and went shopping in the duty-free shop.