Usta Was

Automatic – Miranda Lambert

In my family, remembering how good things were is a national pastime. I call it the “usta was.”

I can still see my grandmother sitting in a rocker in a little country store talking to her friend, Marta, about the war.  On one wall was a poster of “Rosie the Riveter.”  On another, a big poster of the “Last Act of Defiance” drawn by my cousin. 

We spent a lot of time in that store with my grandmother rocking away.  Sometimes she would crochet while she talked.  I’d spend my time coloring or reading a book.  Sometimes just staring up at the poster my cousin drew.  It was a huge sheet of white paper.  On it was a huge fire-breathing dragon.  Before him a small man dressed like a pirate holding up a wooden knife.  Even as I child, I knew that man was done for, but I admired his bravery. 

The poster was on the wall, because Marta was my cousin’s other grandmother.  After her husband died, she ran what was a little country store by day and a juke joint by night.  I didn’t know it was a juke joint until I was much older.  I did know that there was a beer tap in the back, but it never occurred to me that it actually worked until my cousin, James, showed me how to pull the handle.

During our visits to the store, I’d hear Marta and Granny talk about the old days.  They talked about their lives in terms of pre-war and post-war.  Things were always better before. 

Later on, my grandmother showed me a book of ration stamps and explained how they worked.  The world she described was so different from the one I grew up in.  I loved to hear her talk about dances and the music.  Often I was curious about the strangest of things.  I remember how she explained root cellars and how things were kept cold before refrigeration.   I couldn’t even fathom life without a refrigerator. 

My grandmother lived in an old farmhouse (see You Can’t Go Home Again if you’re curious about her house).  When I was young, there was no air conditioning in her house, only fans.  There were only a few closets – one in the bathroom held towels and (of all things) her canning (both supplies and actual things that she’d canned).  Another, under the stairs, held old linens and various other things that I never really was sure about.  A long one in the attic was another curious place where many boxes were stored.  One was an old box of baby clothes.  Some of the things were mine, she told me.  Sadly, I never saw the box again.

Every year when Easter approaches, I sort of get a dose of the usta was.

Granny’s closets were not closets like I was used to at home.  There were none that you opened to take out clothing.  That was what chifferobes were for and there were a couple of those in Granny’s house.  One bedroom only had a chest and a vanity with lots of drawers.  It was my favorite.  Many things were in these drawers.  Old love letters between my parents.  An ancient bottle of perfume that had an old-fashioned squeezer on it.  Various jars and trays for makeup.  And one drawer was filled with all kinds of gloves – lace and cotton, ornate and simple, for small hands and larger hands.  I loved these gloves.  Each year at Easter, Granny and I would sort through this drawer for a pair for me to wear to Easter service.    My Easter outfit wasn’t complete until I had a pair of gloves washed and starched.

I’m not quite sure when this tradition ended.  I’m sure I probably told her something like, “Oh Granny, no one wears gloves anymore.”  (They simply were a pain to keep them on and do things in – like turn the page in the song book).

All these many years later, I still take special care in picking out what I’m going to wear for Easter service. I always think about the gloves, though I’ve never actually worn a pair since those years of my youth.

This year, I saw this dress from Eloquii months before Easter.  I thought it would make the perfect Easter dress.  I made sure to order it timely just in case it didn’t fit and I had to send it back for another size.  When it came, it fit perfectly (and it has pockets). 

I really do love this dress!  The color makes me feel like a Princess.  The 3D effect makes the dress something very special to wear and I received a lot of compliments.  Best part?  No one else was wearing a dress like this!  (If you like this dress, I highly recommend it!)

A part of me wishes that I’d decided to go the whole way with a bonnet and gloves. 

I’m curious to know, do any of you still wear a bonnet and gloves?  (I think maybe I might have to do that next year.)

Until next time, thanks for reading my post!

~PJ

Dress – Eloquii; Jewelry – Cato; Purse – Charming Charlie; Shoes – Vince Camuto (old), find many similar versions here.

 

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