I Dare Say – Have a heart (3-19-45)

The Pittsburgh Press (March 19, 1945)


Have a heart

By Florence Fisher Parry

Mother’s Day is already in the air. The merchants are busy with their plans. I should like to put in an early plea that this year Mother will be represented to us as she really is, instead of the Whistler’s Mother type.

Just why the popular American concept of the Mother to whom we do honor on Mother’s Day should be only the Mother silver haired and seventy-ish, owes its origin, no doubt, to the fact that, the world being a young man’s world, most of those engaged in promoting Mother’s Day are young men and women in the various advertising departments and publications where the selection of a typical Mother is made.

And, to all young people, alas, anyone over 50 is practically senile. It would come to me as a shock to be described as aged. To me, my own Mother isn’t aged. Yet every newspaper or magazine which one picks up, uses this distressing adjective in describing anyone over sixty.

Even Ibn Saud had to endure the following description by a Newsweek reporter: “The King of Saudi Arabia regarded Randolph through age-bleared eyes.” Now poor King Ibn Saud is only 65 years old, and, from what I can gather indirectly from the discreet press, prides himself on his manly vigor.

One age

Yes, it’s high time for reform. These young upstarts who would relegate all their seniors to senility are simply behind the times. Don’t they look at the styles? Don’t they observe the coiffeurs and the hats of women over 50, many of whom are grandmothers?

Just yesterday I was commissioned to buy a hat for my own Mother, I just wish you could see my purchase. It looks jaunty on me; it would look smart on my daughter; yet I can assure you that it is completely appropriate for my Mother.

Most women my age, whose mothers are still with them, and who wear the same size of dress or hat or shoe, know how prevalent is the practice of borrowing each other’s clothes, hats, even makeup. This doesn’t mean that old women look out of character in their smart toilets – as one grows older one dresses just a little more quietly, uses less and less makeup, selects more subdued colors. But for this slight concession, all women over 35 or 40 dress very much the same.

What this emancipation from old age has meant to us is beyond my power to tell. When I “think back” to how things were in the days of my grandmothers, how they were consigned to a bleak, dreary old age when they were still young and vigorous and handsome, it seems to me to have been a veritable cruelty that women were allowed to lose their right to youth so early.

Yet, however briefly enjoyed, what a gorgeous day was my mother’s age, to be sure, how befrilled and beflowered and beplumed. Indeed the advance styles im our millinery today are direct copies of the hats that were worn by our mothers when they were young women in the early 1900s.

The newest hats

Mary Martin, when she was here in One Touch of Venus, showed me her two newest hats, and they were the exact replicas of hats I remember my mother wearing when I was a little girl. They were made of maline wrapped ‘round and ‘round and pled high in a soft formless kind of watermelon-shaped hat – no crown, no rim, just a great cloud of chiffon! The hats were set high on top of the head and were garlanded with flowers.

The one hat Mary showed me measured 10 inches high, and on the high gathered red curls of Mary Martin looked ravishingly quaint. It was the first of the new trend in 1946 hats. Yet yesterday, searching for a spring hat, I found that they were indeed returning to that lovely elaborate style of long ago.

How beautiful and feminine and gay looked the lovely young girls who were trying them on! As they walked from mirror to mirror, preening themselves, it was as though they were carrying on top of their heads glorified baskets of flowers.

Now the next thing, I hope, will be willow plumes, and what a day that will be!