Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Mother's Day Circa 1948
THE DIVISION STREET PRINCESS will be available for purchase in time for Mother's Day, May 14! Links to booksellers are on the side of this page. To entice you to consider the memoir as a gift for your favorite mother, daughter, sister, spouse, partner, I'm including an excerpt from the book, and my parent's engagement photo. A mother's day rememberence, circa 1948, follows.
"Mom, outfitted in a gray silk shantung dress that shimmered with each of her high-heeled steps, kept her gloved hands tight on her pocketbook. With her black felt hat and veil (the “rooftops of Paris look”), Mother was the unquestionable beauty of the bunch.
She was also wearing the dark mink stole that Dad had given her the Sunday before, on Mother’s Day. Although his gift had initially caused a flare-up, I was happy to see that she had relented and would be entering the synagogue embraced in the soft fur.
The present that Ronnie and I had given her caused no problem, only delight as she unwrapped the blue leather jewelry box. My brother and I had pooled our savings to swing the $3 gift and smiled proudly as she proclaimed, “It’s perfect! I’ll put my pearls here, my earrings here, and my broaches here.” She was pointing to the box’s felt compartments, and I pictured her costume jewelry, suffused with the smells of her cosmetics and perfume, nestled happily in their new homes.
When Dad had placed a large silver box before her, his face was bright with excitement and likely greedy for a reaction one hundred times greater than the one granted our jewelry case. Mom opened the lid of Dad’s gift, removed the white paper, and lifted out the beautiful mink stole. “Irv, you know we can’t afford this,” she had said, and slowly replaced the mink in its tissue nest. “We have so many bills…”
“I bought it on time,” Dad had said, and reached deep into the silver box to retrieve the stole. “Just try it on. You’ll look gorgeous in it.” He held the mink stretched out between his two pudgy hands, smiling like a wholesale furrier flattering a dubious client. “You deserve a mink. And I’ll pay it off. Don’t worry. Just try it on.”
“Please try it on,” Ronnie and I had pleaded. At the time, I was just a little girl who adored her father and couldn’t bear his disappointment. I could not have appreciated my mother’s struggle to keep us afloat, and saw her only as an ungrateful wife who had crushed my father as surely as a runaway truck. I remember thinking to myself, Just take it, Mom, for Daddy’s sake. Just take it.
And once my mother had placed the lovely fur around her thin shoulders, and considered her stylish reflection in the bedroom mirror above the dresser -- perhaps imagining herself in the spotlight like Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity -- she agreed to keep the stole and monitor Dad’s monthly installments."