Mom Wore Pretty Dresses To Do Housework!
The clothes we wore in Eastern
Canada were heavily influenced by the extremities of weather. The look was more Unisex in the winter, due to the bitter
winds and heavy snows that fell upon Montreal for long winter months.
As soon as spring came, we couldn't wait to
break out of our scarves, mittens, nylon tights worn under stretch ski pants, and the whole body smothering layers of protective
Mom favoured dresses with tight bodices, and full skirts, which were called sun dresses, as they sometimes came with
short sleeved matching jackets, to protect against the tropical heat of summer time.
One of her favourites was pink
and mauve with overlapping geometric circles, which I stared at many times, this was a light cotton dress, of a more commonplace
fabric than she usually bought.
"You were like a little doll," my mom said to me once, when I was a wilder young woman, prone to anger
at such non-feminist comments. However I read her true intentions, as a compliment. She meant I was a placid and easy going
child, who caused little trouble to the adult world of parents and teachers.
Unlike my younger brother, who began his relationship
with me, by hurling his glass bottles of milk outside of his crib, straight at the head of my own bed, in our shared bedroom
at 91 Rue LaPalme, St. Laurent, Montreal.
Apart from this pink dress of faded cotton, faded from endless washing with Tide Laundry Soap, the
classic soap that came in the beloved red and orange box now celebrated by many visual artists, including myself - Mom had
a huge wardrobe of outfits, as an expert home seamstress.
Her taste influenced me greatly, though I never realized this untile recently. She never wore business
look clothes, nor blatantly sexy clothes. It was pretty dresses in the summer, and slacks in the winter. She also
liked pedal pushers, and sometimes shorts. Her terrible condition of varicose veins, ugly in such a young and beautiful
woman, made her avoid shorts, unless she was doing gardening work.
Of course, I thought my mother was very beautiful,
and as a stay at home mother, with a husband who flew about Canada on Air Canada business, she was the person I most saw for
the first five years of my life.
Apart from the dresses, some items of clothing worn then were rather hideous. I did not care
for much fur though later I would buy second hand raccoon and black beaver fur coats, as I truly needed the warmth that only
fur or down coats supplied.
Fox stoles were ugly, and though Mom did not have one, she did have a mink stole - these useless decorative
coats were worn by many Montreal mothers and wives. The winter boots of strechy rubber had high heels and fur trims,
and during our Christmas parties these strange items littered our hallways in Montreal. Some one invented them to pull
over the high heeled shoes worn then.