Annie came over, like she often does, she untied her scarf and sat down at the kitchen table. She asked me, "What's new?" I love that whenever I see her, even if it is twice in the same day, she asks, "What's new?"
I don't know how we got on the subject, but that is often the case when talking with a close friend. One thing leads to another, sentences are finished by the other, and in mid stream one can sum up the conversation with a nod of the head, a chuckle, and sometimes a tear. Anyway Annie was telling me about her mother preparing her older sister's Trousseau.
"Besides doing everything from scratch, she found time to tend the garden, took care of her seven children, and made our clothes. When each of my three sisters and I turned fourteen she would prepare our trousseaux. She made each of us twelve culottes (bloomers) and twelve chemises in white calico, on the edge of each garment she crocheted lace, and added a monogram. Some had ribbons and others had mother of pearl buttons at the bodice."
"My mother put the beautiful, sweet, though practical garments in the dresser. Each of us had our drawer of things: Culottes, chemises, scarves, tableclothes, towels....
When my older sister married my mother wrapped her trousseau in white tissue placing some fresh lavender in between the folds. My sisters and I admire the detailed beauty of her handiwork. We oohed and awed, giggled and traced our fingers around the edges of the culottes. My sister blushed, then said,
"Mother, I cannot wear these culottes, my husband will laugh at me. Nowadays, brides do not wear these type of culottes, nor are they made out of calico, nor are they so large. He will think I am an old fashion woman." Annie sat up in her chair and grabbed my knee. "My sister was bold, she was very smart too. My mother respected her because she had learned to speak French when we first moved to France from Greece, and helped my mother and father a great deal in the beginning."
"My sister was adamant," she said, "that though the culottes were pretty, she could not wear them." My mother said, "She didn't know that the style had changed and that she didn't want my sister's appearance to embarrass her or her husband."
"They went to the store and bought some pastel rayon/jersey to make panties for my sister's trousseau."
"After my sister's wedding, my mother transfomed the calico culottes into pillow shams! She was very clever my mother. Can you image how big those culottes were if she could transform them into pillow shams?!" Annie put her hand to her mouth and laughed, "Needless to say we had pillow shams for a life time."
"Annie, can you imagine how easy your mother would have had it if she made strings (thongs) for you back then?" I teased.
"Strings! Oh God, my mother would have been shocked! In her day the oversized rayon panty was a leap of sexual modernity."
I showed Annie Magnolia Pearl's website. She looked up from the screen and declared, "Now that is creative! My mother would have loved to have her for a daughter."