Grandma Mellie's Scrapbook
Copyright © 2003, Michael S. Cole, M.D.

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The Old Album

    I have an old photograph album. It has been in the family many, many years and none of us know just how old it is.
    Some of the pictures I do not even recognize. Some of the other relatives I've heard my mother tell about.
    It is an interesting pastime to look at those old pictures. There were many old tintypes, which I passed on to my son. The styles of that day are something to think about! One must have had to be a good seamstress to create those fashions. I remember my mother wearing those long dresses and holding her skirts up so they wouldn't drag in the dust. However, women of that day did not dare get their skirts above their shoe tops ... it was "taboo" for women's legs to be seen. I also remember they wore bustles to enhance their figure.
    In this old album are many photographs of little babies wearing high shoes and long dresses. How uncomfortable they must have been! I can remember mothers dressing their babies in flannel petticoats and shirts. I can also remember the "old-timey" mothers talking about the babies having hives. Poor little things, it's no wonder they had heat rash, wearing all that clothing! How much more sensibly mothers of today dress their babies.
    Little boys wore dresses then until they were four or five years old. Then they were put into pants, some of them very tight. And they all wore the funny little hats. Men wore different styles then, too. Their shirt collars were starched stiffly or they wore the old celluloid collars, either of which would give one's neck an uncomfortable time!
    Some wore beards and mustaches and many parted their hair in the middle. The beards and mustaches are common today, but I don't believe the clothing styles will ever come back.
    One photograph is at least 150 years old. Some were made by Montgomery and Wright of Kansas City. Some were made in Warrensburg--mostly of relatives of my late husband. I have some by Saunders and Son of Lexington. I'm sure most of these photographers are gone, though perhaps some of their families still operate the studios.
    But back to the styles of long ago: Little girls wore their hair in pig tails, tied with ribbons. It was never, never cut. Their little dresses came below the knees, almost to their shoe tops. And they were told over and over not to get their dresses above their knees. Almost everybody wore high-top shoes with buttons. I have an old shoe button hook and am thankful I don't have to use it.
    Sunday dresses were made of silk and velvet, with calico and lawn being used for everyday. The latter was not expensive, only three or four cents a yard, and a good thing, too, for much yardage was put into a dress.
    One had to dress warmly in those days for winters were cold and the homes and churches unheated except by fireplace or wood stoves. Today with our central heating and warm cars, one doesn't need many clothes.
    I like living in the present time, don't you? If ever you don't appreciate it, just get out the old album and you'll count your blessings!

Mellie Smith

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