The Bra . . .

       The Bra is about the only article of women’s clothing that wasn’t first worn by men.

Don’t believe me? Well, just wander through illustrated history books a bit and as you look you’ll agree and laugh with me. Get out your Art Pictures of older English Royalty. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Pictures found etched on ancient Egyptian walls. And don’t forget the Bible.

For beginners, women in pants of any sort were absolutely unknown until quite a while after WW2. Women formed a highly praised branch of the US Army, the WACS, but they wore skirts. Unimaginable, but true. Regiment after regiment, and all in skirts.

Panty hose were worn by male noblemen at Shakespeare’s time and I’m sure they weren’t called Panty hose, for even on the stage today, they’re called Tights. But take a good look at them, and you’ll see they were the first panty hose.

And, to top off that long expanse of leg, the men set them off with Mini Skirts. No, they weren’t called mini skirts, but even a casual glance tells what they were. It took women well into the 20th century to claim not only the mini skirts, but everyone of the items mentioned above, Women were slow, slow, slow.

Legs were fetishes ‘back then’ even as now, but it was the male’s legs that wooed for attention, not the well covered female’s. It was the attire on the men’s legs that unashamedly was meant to catch the beholder’s attention. And I’m sure the women saw and followed the bait. .

No, they weren’t made of nylon, and they must have sagged and bunched at knees and ankles, but just the same . . . panty hose.

The Scots had their Kilts (skirts), and today still wear them for their formal attire. The Greeks had their white skirts and wore them for both battle and daily wear. ruffled, starched, standing out like to-day’s Ballerina tutu. Nothing new under the sun, and while women flaunt them all today, it was men who showed the way.

Abraham, and his brothers of Biblical times, as they herded their flocks across the hot sand, wore Kaftans. And the scarves they flung around their necks and heads the same as women do today when we want to be stylish, cool and casual.

Make-up was a male prerogative and they wore it long before Cleopatra put kohl on her eyelids, and henna to her nails and palms. Different than our make up kits, but the males of those centuries ago would eagerly use every item offered today.

And then we get to fancy shoes. We woman were still wrapping our feet in cloth to keep out the cold when men were wearing leather, fur and silk.

The shoes with long pointed toes were worn by men. The toes were much longer than we women have ever worn . . and were held up by ribbons fastened from the end of the point to the wearer’s hand, and when they wanted to impress someone, the ribbons were immediately put to one side and they walked carefully to make certain the toes did not get tripped over or walked upon by others. We women may have been slow to catch on, but it’s easy to see we brought about improvements. No be-ribboned toes for us.

Long ago Egyptian males wore ear rings and wigs. And think about it, but we’ve never, never seen pictures of  Benjamin Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, and Colonists of any standing with out their wigs, and wouldn’t recognize those men without wigs. And it’s the law in Great Britain that English Judges must still wear those stylized white curled wigs we wonder over.

Yeah, we women are late bloomers, but men, in some areas of the world, still cling to the old forms.

Now hair styles are a thing apart from clothing, but just the same, men found the comfort, styling and ease of the hair cuts that many women, and I’m one of them, wear today, but, men found that comfort and ease first of all.

Men never did wear bras, physically they’ve never needed them, but they made up   for it. Don’t ever forget those little items called Cod pieces that were so popular all through the 15th, 16th, and late into the 17th centuries. They were well padded. too.  And if some of you are so innocent you don’t know what Cod pieces were, well, Ethel isn’t going to tell you, Just Google it and laugh with me.

The same as men never needing our Bras, the Cod Piece is one we women will never copy, either. Have fun.

Pioneer Day In Utah


Forget all the movies you’ve seen about it . . .

Every year, every generation gets further and further from the actual Pioneer trek that Utah celebrates each Twenty-Fourth of July. At  one time, if your ancestors didn’t either ‘cross the Plains’ or ‘come round the Horn’ (Cape Horn, the southernmost tip of South America) you were out of sync, and were even criticized if you dared join in the celebration of that Day.

My ancestors certainly didn’t come ’round the Horn’ for that was expensive, while you could Cross the Plains by just having a good wagon, oxen, food, and stamina. That’s the breed my family came from and it’s a tale of a 14 year old lad whose mother, as did many women, ‘worked her way across the Plains’, and  her son herded cattle.

The tale comes from Ada Goodall Garrity, the youngest daughter of that boy, James “Jimmie” Goodall, who told that her father solemnly said that, “From the very first day of the journey, if I could’ve found a Wagon Train, or anyone, going the other way, I’d have been the first to join them.”

Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t say he’d forsake his church, but he did say that the trip was a nightmare that he never recovered from and paid for the rest of his life. A journey to never wish upon his  worst enemy.

So, having no money, he and other young lads, paid their way by herding cows and bulls. It was an absolutely vital job, for those cows meant their future food , milk, butter, cream and cheese. Their very lives depended upon those animals, and so had to be well tended, because, where they were going, there were no towns, or stores of any sort. Live or die, it was up to those Pioneers, and to be accomplished solely upon their work and what they brought with them.

It was the formation of the Wagon Train that made herding a horror. Up front and first in line,  were  the Leaders of the Train,  the Scouts. They put up ‘signs’ of some sort, to point the way over mountain passes, marked the best place to cross rivers, and they led the Train to protected areas where the oxen, horses, cattle and people could eat, find water, and rest for the  night.

In Second place were the wagons and people. Dozens of wagons and carts pulled by man or oxen, hundreds of people walking and countless men riding back and forth on horses, seeing that the sick and dying were cared for, that women in child birth were tended, and broken wagons repaired.

Forget all the movies you’ve seen. They are a farce and the people on the real wagon trains would never dream that the movies  were ever  intended to portray the actual journey they had made.

Then, behind all the wagons, horses and people came the cattle. Hundreds of cows and bulls formed a mile-long tail  of the already strung-out migration. And bringing up the very end of the whole,  were the young boys, prodding the slow or worn-out cows, chasing and capturing any that roamed, and finally, keeping them all moving so none were lost or left behind.

In other words, they breathed and ate the dust made by every person and animal that went before them. There were no paved roads, just dry dusty land and every step created more dust. It was recorded that the ‘dust laid low like a black cloud, and could be seen for miles.’

And those kids, only a few years from childhood, breathed that dust, night and day with never a breath of clean air from the time  they left the west bank of the Mississippi until they reached the valley of the Great Salt Lake. And hard for us to realize is that there were no towns, none at all. No homes, no drive-ins for a cold drink. Nothing, but dry land and its dust.

Jimmie’s daughter remembered her father saying he never, as long as he lived, was ever free of ‘that black cloud, for he coughed up its dust the rest of his life.’ Claiming his lungs brought part of the Plains right along with him into our valley, and stayed here.

We romanticize Crossing the Plains, and movies make a plastic dream of it, picturing people working, laughing, singing, dancing and praying, but those actually doing it, saw nothing romantic about it. It was outright hell for women, cruelly demanding on men, and often deadly for children.

The train stopped for nothing. They didn’t have the time to stop for sickness, birthing, broken bones, sick, worn out children, injured oxen, or death. Many would never complete the trip, but enough did, that we have the Salt Lake Valley of today. It was the survival of the fittest. Wait till night to bury the dead, say a prayer, shed a tear and then get your sleep so you will be ready for the next day’s work.

Those people would look at our cleaned-up and romanticized versions of their trek with the parades, and rodeos, and find them so far away from the truth of the Journey that they would wonder what the connection could be.   But anyway, if you’re of Pioneer stock or not, no one cares any more, just be glad for an extra holiday, and for whatever reason, have a Happy Twenty-Fourth.

Class – Let’s Get Some

I attended a class where “What Makes People Tick” was explored and some ideas were tremendous. and so I won’t forget them, I pass them along. And, at one point, the person who, for want of a better word, has Class was discussed.

The one with Class never runs scared. He is confident in knowing that one can meet life head-on and handle anything that comes. The same set of circumstances can come to two people, and, while one will be crushed and beaten, the one with Class will take a deep breath, swallow, hold his head high and go on.

Jacob had Class, Esau didn’t. And, if we look symbolically at Jacob’s wrestling match with the angel, we realize that those with Class often wrestle with their own ‘angels’ and win victories that mark them positively for the rest of their lives.

People with Class don’t make excuses. They take their lumps, cut their losses, and learn from the experience. And as my friend Jake, used to say, “Don’t complain, don’t explain, for neither will do any good. Just square your shoulders and go on from where ever you landed”. Took me a long time to figure out how smart he was.

Those with Class are considerate of others. They know that good manners are nothing but a series of small sacrifices. A ‘thank you’ , or a ‘pardon or excuse me’ are all wonderful ‘oil’ for our complicated society and make for smooth, pleasant relationships.

Class reveals an ‘aristocracy’ that has nothing to do with ancestors or money. The most affluent person can be totally rude and inconsiderate, while generations of low-income people may show Class in every pore.

Don Blanding said it succinctly in his poem “Vagabond House” about his two beloved dogs. He wrote, “Both are thoroughbreds, right from the start. One by breeding, the other by heart.” He was speaking of Class and I shiver as I read the words.

One with Class never tries to build himself up by tearing others down. Class is always ‘up’ and does not need to try to look better by knocking others down.

As Kipling wrote, one with Class can “walk with kings and keep the common touch and talk with crowds and keep his virtue.” Everyone is comfortable with such a one because he is comfortable with himself.

I can’t help but think of Eleanor Roosevelt,  First Lady when FDR was President.  Caught on camera, (no TV at that time), she was suddenly face to face with an official from a far Eastern nation, and there was no one to ‘do’ the introductions. She quite calmly said, “I don’t know how to address you, but I am so glad to meet you.” He smiled, told her what most people called him, and then the two of them conversed.

That was real Class, from both of them.

I saw, of course on TV, when a younger Queen Elizabeth showed her Class one day, when an overweight woman was presented to her. The woman began to make the traditional curtsy, but dropped down too far, and terror filled her face for it was obvious that the poor  woman  had reached the point of no return, and, on her own,  didn’t  have the power to get upright again.

But Queen Elizabeth, saw the sad predicament,  and, without a change of expression, she put one foot backward, held out her arm and with both arm and body stiff as boards she actually levered and pulled the woman upright and balanced again. The Queen then went on to the next person without a pause. I shivered as my respect for her went straight up. That, let me tell you was real Class.

If you have that trait your whole life will be smoother. so let’s both take a class on “Class” development, beginning right now.   I would welcome the company.


The Dawn . . .

Dawn – The finest hour

No matter how wakeful or troubled the night, there is always reassurance and joy in the morning. I mean, of course, after the first horrible wrench of getting myself out of the subliminal state and on my feet.

Yes, I hate to get out of bed but once I do, the rewards are worth the struggle. There’s a softness to the early morning that cannot be put into words and i feel like Alice in Wonderland as she stepped through the mirror into a new world. That’s what early morning is like. Before anyone starts moving and breaks the spell.

I pour myself a quick cup and then step outside, for one must make the commitment and be outside for the magic to work. I go quietly, barefoot and nine-times-out-of-ten still in my night shift. I feel like an intruder on that world, so near my door, but at dawn it’s not mine, and go as quietly as possible.

The other morning I saw two pheasants, a male and his mate, strolling right across the street, and hardly daring to breath, I watched in delight. During the day I hear, but seldom see them, but at that hour, they had no fear, for the world, including the street was theirs.

The backyard was alive. I toss bird seed in sheltered nooks and the birds spread the word and come. There are the shy quail, greedy magpies, friendly sparrows, wild canaries, robins, doves, starlings, and some I don’t know, but they know my yard.

And, to me, the strange thing, is that if I sit still, they don’t see me. They are so secure at this hour of the morn that they don’t look for anything or anyone to fear.

Dogs and cats I never see at other times, go busily through my yard, so intent on their business they, too, pay no attention, not only to me, but to the birds, and the birds do not shy away from them. Odd, I can’t figure that one out.

There’s a perfume to the air that I would recognize as ‘dawn’ no matter where I should find it. The sky can be overcast, clear, cold or sultry, but the aroma is there and I’d like to bottle it. I’d name it “Early Dawn” and city folk would buy it by the gallon as it awakened within them, a deep almost painful response to an aroma they, in some long ago rural lifetime, had once known.

I see large flights of birds going overhead, speeding to get to feeding or mating grounds before the heat of the day arrives. I’m reminded that the sky is a great highway for birds of all species, and butterflies. too. They travel their familiar routes just as I do on my way to where I go, and I get envious of the fisher folk on our coastal areas who are just as aware of the highways in the oceans that the fish and whales all follow.

Sometimes I get in my car and drive around in the early dawn. I’d ‘die’ if I had to stop for some reason, and be found in my night shift, but, what the heck, that’s Ethel. Weird.

The world is a different place at the various hours of the day, with changes as abrupt as the seasonal ones, and each quickly recognized. Dusk, to me, is the Angelus . . . . ”the end of a weary day when all things come home at eventide” and it’s almost with tears that I recognize the feeling, and find it a bit sad, but yet wonderful.

Daytime is when the business of the world sets a frantic and busy pace. And Dawn is a far cry from the hectic flash/flash/neon/noisy/blare/honk of the midnight hour that was here but a few hours before. 

The early hours are a time of birth. The time when everything I ever dream of is still possible. The time when all I ever want is already mine. Yeah, you know the feeling . . . . I hope. And if not . . . seek it.

I catch the sun coming up over the Wasatch Mountains and know that I could give up much in this world and still be happy, but one of the last things I would ever want to give up is my Window to the World, and Dawn, to me, is its Finest Hour.