When I chance across photos from my childhood, my gaze turns not to me or my brothers, but to my parents. How young they looked! How thin! Just look at their hair!
Mom married Dad when she was 22, and I was born 14 months later (in those pre-birth control days one routinely counted the number of months between the dates of the marriage and the birth of the child). She worked ever since I can remember, first for the phone company, then the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii, and finally for the Honolulu Police Department, where she became a fingerprint specialist. She became quite proficient at recovering and matching prints by hand. Mom would have a hard time keeping up today, with the field’s technological advances and reliance on computers, but she was always a quick study and it’s possible she could have held her own.
In that genteel era women wore dresses everywhere, and I marvel at how pretty Mom and other ladies looked in those snapshots. The men, on the other hand, looked stiff—literally, because their cotton shirts required lots of starch to remain wrinkle-free—and rarely smiled. Moderns talk about the difficulties of multi-tasking, but it seems to me that life was much harder to manage for the middle class back then. Without timesaving devices such as microwave ovens and mobile phones, with only one car in the garage, with the nearest grocery store (whose footprint would occupy the bread section of a modern supermarket) miles away, the exigencies of living did not allow much time for self-fulfillment. We just don’t hear much about our parents’ problems because whining by adults was then frowned upon.
My parents retired over a decade ago and are enjoying a well-earned life of leisure, punctuated only by the welcome burden of tending to their grandchildren. Mom celebrated her birthday this week. Hope you had a great birthday, Mom!