blog description

Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Grandparents used to look like this:

Does this make you think of Turner Classic Movies? Look at this substantial couple dressed in equally substantial woolen coats and hats, perhaps on their way to Sunday service. Hats are a fashion statement that is mostly the province of rock singers these days, but back in the mid-forties, when this picture was taken, hats were something no respectable person went out in public without.

Here's the generation before theirs. This picture was also taken in the 1940's, in a summery backyard. The subjects are still looking hale and hearty, despite being in their late eighties. Do you detect a slightly different air here, a difference in style? I think so.

As in period movies, the woman's hair style, in this case all those sculptured curls carefully contained in a net, tell us something about the days of her youth. In this case, it harks back to the 'twenties. Again, admire their clothes, especially the gentleman's three-piece suit and watch fob and the lady's lovely bouquet and necklace! I believe that the couple pictured here lived into their late nineties, something which was far less common than it is today.

BTW, the subjects here are all New Englanders, but all four of them know how to smile. They appear to be studying the picture taker with genuine fondness. Many years of life experience shines from their eyes.

We're far less formal today, and take pictures constantly, so we don't tend to dress up for them. These grandparents are with their "baby" boy at his workplace. They too are smiling at the person taking the picture, who, I happen to know, is their granddaughter. Frankly, I don't see a lot of difference in bodies or faces or hair color here. We're just grandparents--and not the celebrity kind. We're wearing a lot of bulky clothes on this occasion because it's darn cold. We live farther apart and must conduct our family visits mostly via the internet and cell phone. Otherwise, the bodies are old and the faces are old and the hair is either or white or non-existent. Nothing much has changed.

~~Juliet Waldron
All my novels at


  1. A lovely three-generational blog post! I love these pictures reflecting the changes in our families. And while our grandparents did indeed dress up for their pictures, I can't help but feel our more casual lifestyle makes us current grandparents look younger than those before us. (Remember when our grandmothers wore those tight-fitting black shoes?)