It is as though I have received a new toy and I am about 8 years old again. All I want to do is play with it!
So the title of this entry is for all of you who may be reading this – in your HOARDS- and perhaps were not as fortunate (blessed in the Catholic vernacular) as I was to be born into a rabidly Catholic family in 1951! I will attempt in less than 500 words to enlighten you about some of the seemingly inexplicable things about being Catholic and this old!
Actually, I think my age and gender are really significant in terms of my understanding of my upbringing – how’s THAT for a “parenthood” statement! I remember the 60’s which of course means I didn’t do drugs. I remember the growth of the women’s liberation movement – so well embraced by the clergy then and still – NOT! ( brief aside…cynicism is a demon with which I wrestle and sometimes I let it win!) I remember the publishing of the Female ……person without genitals, the word for which I cannot spell , and how I needed to look it up in the dictionary to find out what it meant! I didn’t burn my bra for fear of knocking myself out and in spite of at that the age of 65 when I remove my bra my breasts nearly cover my navel….GET TO THE POINT LOUISE! It was those years 1951 – 1960 (inclusive) that gave our generation of tykes – especially women – a unique set of experiences that are totally beyond the understanding of our children and theirs. So my next few posts will be an attempt to context some pretty odd practices from our past!
THE COVERING AND UNCOVERING OF HEADS. In our current climate of fear of difference and radicalisation of youth, much has been said about the covering and uncovering of heads. When I was a child, most men wore hats. Not beanies, not baseball caps but proper business stetsons. My Dad who was a journalist never left home without his hat and he had several of them. He travelled to work by bus and sometimes when I was in high school, we would catch the same bus together. Every time we passed a CATHOLIC Church, Dad, who always sat near the window would discretely make the sign of the cross with his thumb over his heart and then doff his hat out of respect,as did every other catholic man wearing a hat on the bus! They would wear their hats to Mass on Sunday and take them off before entering the church. Different set of rules for women and girls of course. A woman couldn’t enter the church without covering her head. This was great for the millinery industry of course! Hats for all females from bonnets, to little girl hats, to masterpieces of fashion design to scarves and berets and the most exotic of all Mantillas!
I remember when the film Cleopatra came out, the Womens’ Weekly did a segment on how to wear a scarf in the style of Cleopatra’s head dress! It was brilliant! Directions followed properly resulted in a fashion statement to die for. Slightly off the mark? Fashion Tragic!
The doors of the churches were open from dawn to dusk and we were expected to “make a visit”
“Every time I pass a Church, I always make a visit. So when I’m dead and carried in, Our Lord won’t say ‘who is it?’” How’s that for a happy little ditty in the year 2 classroom! Of course, should you be female and passing a church sans chapeau a handkerchief would suffice. This was why every good little girl carried two hankies – one, usually plain cotton perhaps a floral print, the other often linen with crocheted edging going far beyond chain stitch and treble, pressed to within an inch of its life with razor like fold marks. The first was for sneezes and the second for head covering in case a church should pop up on your journey! But sense of responsibility to make the visit outweighed even a hankieless state! Caught without one, you could whack your right hand into the holy water font, bless yourself and plop you left hand over your head which allowed you to enter the church. Visits were always brief of course!
Stay tuned for “Spiritual Bouquets……aspirations and ejaculations”