After Carleton Place Coun. Linda Seccaspina was questioned for wearing a handmaid’s costume to a public event where she volunteered her time decorating Smile Cookies, a group of local ladies decided to bring the issues of women’s rights, equality and discrimination to light.
Resident Laura Piggott organized Blessed Be the Vote, which saw women dressed as handmaids attend the Carleton Place Public Library voting kiosk Oct. 18 to cast their ballot in the 2022 municipal election.Piggott claimed Seccaspina was “publicly shamed and subsequently bullied for wearing a handmaid’s costume and ironically accused of perpetuating the ideals of oppressive regimes when the handmaid’s costume has come to represent the fight for women’s rights.”
Was it Because I Have AB Positive Blood? Element #1
I was told by my doctor once that 10% of the world’s population has AB Positive blood and it’s where I get my “oddness” from. Funny, I never thought I was odd! All I knew was I didn’t want to end up in the military like my Father had daily visions of. It had come to his attention many times that I was different, and I stuck out like a sore thumb in my rural hometown in Quebec. When your father is a prominent municipal fixture, and the only electrician in town, word travels around like a bush fire that your daughter is weird or a character as they called me. Honestly, there are lots of people like myself, and then there are those that pretend not to be.
My friend Wanita Bates said something once that made complete sense to me after all these years.
‘Linda, some of us have gifts to feel what is going to be in style, and you and I are one of them.” When I had my store I was way ahead of fashion trends, but when major retailers grabbed on to it and money making was involved–I was long out of it.
So after heated arguments with my father, I left home and headed to Montreal, Quebec. I attended fashion design school on Bleury Street where I became instantly bored. Instead of great 60’s fashion and styles that I was expecting my teacher made me make pattern after pattern of 1950’s styles. After classes, I would venture into store after store, just absorbing the culture and the fashion.
After almost completing my course, I decided I needed to find a job. Well Twiggy, Mary Quant, and all the Carnaby Street styles were afloat and guess who was wearing them? My Dad was getting remarried and gave me $75 dollars to buy something for his wedding. Being the drama queen I purchased a black velvet Twiggy mini dress and a black floor length Dr. Zhivago style coat. It was a real floor duster with black faux fur trim, and Omar Sharif would have been proud.
So when I went for job interviews I insisted on wearing the same “ultimate”outfit I wore to the wedding. Most clothing manufactures were not into the “Carnaby look” yet and I was told time after time, “Kid, get yourself another coat”. In layman’s terms I was scaring all these fashion people with my wardrobe. Defiant, I kept wearing it. A few weeks later I got my dream job. It was working for trendy Le Chateau on Ste. Catherine Street hemming pants. It was their first store, and their clothing styles were worn by anyone who wanted to be someone. I was right up their alley– or so I thought.Sadly, I only got to work there for about 6 months, as I was basically hired for the Christmas rush. In those few months I got to meet the Montreal trendsetters, wore “Gabardine Mod” pants, and so began my lifetime eating disorder. But, it was a time I will never forget, and believe fashion has never been so exciting. Just being able to sneak into the Boiler Room on Crescent Street and watch fashion happen was mind blowing.For some reason only known to God, I was just not ‘cool” enough to work as a salesperson in their store, and rent had to be paid. In the middle of the coldest winters ever I hauled my derriere all over the Island of Montreal looking for a job.
I finally found a job at The Fine Togs Clothing Co. It was a childrens manufacture run by Blossom and her husband Hy Hyman. Actually Blossom ran the company and Hy smiled a lot and played golf. They thought I was a spunky kid and if I had stayed there, I would have probably be retiring from the company about now. They were good people.
If my grandmother Mary was my foundation for my hard working ethics, then Saul Cohen was the drywall. He expected me to arrive at 7:30 every morning and I had to ask to leave around 7:45 pm at the end of the day. The man worked me to the bone, and I just chalked it up to experience. I worked in the cutting department, sewing, swept floors, did book work, and worked in the show room. There was not one stone that he did not make me turn over, and turn over again.’Sauly” was relentless, and when he found out that my Mother had been born to a Jewish Mother he made sure I knew about my heritage. Anytime I asked to leave early he would turn around and say to me,”Do you know how our people suffered?”.Enough said.
One day he decided that I was ready to represent the company selling their clothing line at the Place Bonaventure clothing mart. He told me I had to have, no, must wear, something conservative.So I did what every other girl my age did. I went to Sears and bought “The Suit”. It was navy blue, a box jacket complete with a knee length pleated skirt. I had red shoes and red earrings to match. That was the last time I wore something so conservative. It just wasn’t me.
I applaud Saul for everything he taught me and how someone actually got me into something that wasn’t black. Word got around the clothing market about me and I was soon hired by a competitive children’s wear company run by Palestinians. Yup, I was no peace maker between the people of Israel and Palestine, but this was a time I will never ever forget.
Lorna DrummondThis picture taken at Umphrey’s (McFadden Furs) on William St. We lived on the corner, the Umphreys were our next door neighbours
Mindy MerkleyPretty sure this was one of the fashion shows mom (Mary Cook) sponsored. I remember being walked down that aisle many times wearing a variety of outfits handmade by the many seamstresses of Carleton Place. Those fashion shows raised loads of money for many town projects such as the building of our first arena or support for the local Cancer Society.
That’s not dirt under my nails and fingers… that is ALL Blue dye.
A few weeks ago in a store in Perth, someone looked at my hands and asked if I’d been to the doctor to see about my circulation. After a few minutes of panicking and wondering who would sing at my funeral given my untimely blue-handed death I gave them a quick look and almost died seeing how blue my hands were.
Parked outside of the Perth Old Burying Grounds I looked in the car mirror to see if any of the dye was on my face. I shrieked in horror that in exactly 5 minutes I was expected to join the Mahon Family Reunion for the blessing looking like I had died with blue dye around my eyes. Not a good look for a cemetery! With a very used Kleenex I attempted to get the ‘death warmed over’ look off my face.
Mostly cleaned off except small faint marks around my nose.
One of the unknown Mahon’s
Like so many afflictions, ‘dye leak’ doesn’t discriminate by age, location or background and it can strike anyone, at any time. And, while admittedly it was probably the poorly died black lace jacket caught in the rainstorm that caused my stained hands and stained face. Of course I bought it for next to nothing on Wish.com LOL
According to adults I know who actually have their s**t together, the cure for this situation is to wash your garment inside out, three or four times, in cold water. But let’s backtrack for a moment. Three–Or–Four–Times. You have to wash your garment THREE OR FOUR TIMES TO AVOID HAVING BLUE HANDS? HOW IS THAT FAIR?
How did black turn into navy blue? Seems that good-quality black dyes were not known until the middle of the 14th century — nor in 2019 either. The most common early dyes were made from bark, roots or fruits of different trees; usually the walnut, chestnut, or certain oak trees. The blacks produced were often more gray, brown or bluish. The cloth had to be dyed several times to darken the colour. One solution used by dyers was add to the dye some iron filings, rich in iron oxide, which gave a deeper black. Another was to first dye the fabric dark blue, and then to dye it black.
So the last sentence says it all. The Chinese dyed my fabric dark blue and then black. Combined with a rain storm– it ran all over me as they say. Anyway, it’s all fine, no one thought I had climbed out of any plot in that cemetery, and I guess that’s a good thing. Tomorrow is another day, right?
Verna Wilson Hadlock wedding September 1959- I am on the left front- my late sister Robin Knight Nutbrown is on the right. (see clipping below)
I loved the fancy dresses my Mother made me as a child, but when I was growing up in the 50s, you had to keep the nice things for “good” as it was said on numerous occasions. That meant if somehow “the Pope” came to Trinity Anglican Church in Cowansville, Quebec where I lived, you got to wear your good dress. Of course that never happened, and in time you outgrew the the ‘good clothes’ and that was the end of that.
I used to argue why couldn’t you wear exactly what you wanted to, on let’s say Monday morning. I was told that I might be “breaking the law” during many of those mother daughter primal, visceral fashion dialogues. That was another one of those ‘bad seed’ Old Wives Tales, and I can tell you that one never became an urban legend.
Sophia and Tenley
When I watch my granddaughters dress up in their princess dresses today I am envious. Everything these kids find and wear as dress-up, they can wear anytime they want– without the message that others may judge you. That’s not shallow; that’s about transformation. There’s nothing wrong with wearing a pink taffeta dresses and heading off to the sandbox in my mind. Nothing at all, as I hear Tide has many formats these days!
Me and William Blais at the Royal Crossroads Tearoom Wedding Tea
Mind you, the way I dress on different occasions now, people probably think I’m in fancy dress too. I have no fear, or any restrictions anymore, and keep nothing for good. Okay, wearing clothing from Forever 21 does not keep me “forever 21”- but they make me look as though I wished I were. But truth be told, these days, I don’t, but that’s okay. I have been seen on occasion wrestling one of my clothing items like a top hat decorated in many fancy plumes caught in a tree in Almonte as I passed under it. Loads of experience was learned that fateful fall day on how to approach a tree sorting fancy millinery.
I am so grateful that it really isn’t about what others think anymore. This grandmother is proud and delighted about the imaginative ways my granddaughters put together outfits as they enjoy it, and that makes me happy.
Jean Paul Gaultier once said,
“It’s always the badly dressed people who are the most interesting.”
If that’s the case, then these future children will become the most interesting people in the whole world – hands down!
In the late 50s for a brief time it was against the law to wear shorts in Cowansville, Quebec. Having an extremely dusty memory these days I don’t recall if the surrounding villages and towns had the same law. I don’t think I ever wore shorts that much except to go on a picnic, and of course there were those Cowansville High School bloomer gym suits that were not only modest, they were also downright medieval. Memories of walking by the Ritz’s five and dime on Main street and seeing a handwritten sign in the window that said “No shorts allowed!” seems like yesterday. Honestly, I had never really thought about it until I saw a newspaper clipping this week that pants and shorts on women should not be worn in public places during that time. Gossip says the law began in in my small town when the powers to be rushed through a policy in case some shapely females appeared in such attire on the street. Oh the horrors! The media reported that it was a popular vote, but I’m wondering with whom, because I remember my Mother saying a lot of women called the town hall every day to put a stop to it.
In May 1959, the Associated Press noted that the city council of Plattsburgh, N.Y., had voted to ban the wearing of shorts by anyone over 16 years-old on city streets. Violators were liable to receive a $25 fine or 25 days in jail. An alarmed woman wrote to the local newspaper saying it was “an advertisement for adultery when a lady wore shorts.” The writer also added she was a “decent person” who resented having to look at the “ugly legs” of men and women in shorts. Exposed gams, she added, were a “disgrace to humanity.” Sherbrooke even charged a ballet teacher with indecent exposure, while making her way to emergency at the Sherbrooke Hospital. She had broken her wrist in a fall and was in her dance leotard!
When I went to school we had to wear those awful navy blue tunics with a white blouse all the time. My kneecaps were frost bitten several times walking back and forth to school in the winter. We were allowed to wear pants, but they had to be taken off once we got to school. Because, back in the day, everyone knew only “easy” girls wore pants to school.
During one of my Grandmother’s ‘porch talks” she told me the real problem stemmed from the male youths that stood on the street corners and whistled at the girls. She herself had seen it many times sitting on her veranda on South Street and women had to be protected from annoyance and molestation. The word molestation was over my head in those days but I did know about the ‘street corner loafers’ as my Grandfather called them hanging out by the bus stop near the train station. The line had to be drawn somewhere they both said or we would be watching young women walking down the street in their bathing suits. Nobody objected to women wearing shorts on the tennis court or to get a good suntan in their backyard, as apparently we were informed that the sun shone just as brightly in your garden as on the street. But shorts had their place in those days, and there was great public sympathy for the local troubled councils who had to reconcile their duty to the women of their community with feminine perversity in their attire. I don’t know how long the law lasted as I had other things to think about. Now everything is a go, and women would never let their local towns and cities set the standards in a dress code. After all times have changed, and when a woman says “What?” about something– it’s not because she didn’t hear you. She is just giving you a chance to change what you said. My how times have changed!
Linda Nilson-RogersMy former ballet instructress was charged with indecent exposure, while making her way to emergency in Sherbrooke, Quebec, in the mid 50’s! She had broken her wrist in a fall…and was in her leotard!
Did you know the material most prized to show grief was lignite, also known as jet, a fossilized form of coal. Jet is deep, dark and somber. In the first phase of mourning, jet jewelry was the only ornamentation women were allowed to wear.
The middle classes in particular, wishing to follow and accept the higher canons of decency of the upper classes, thus they emulated every example she set. They liked to use black edged stationery, envelopes, notepaper and visiting cards.
Prayer books and bibles had to be bound in Black morocco leather and handkerchiefs edged in black. The list was endless, but all touches were intended to convey to the onlooker through a series of signs and symbols visual messages that the deepest feelings of sadness were felt at the loss. They tied little black or purple ribbons around dressing table bottles and added similar purple or black ribbons even to the clothing of infants.
While women were only supposed to wear jet for the first stage, during the second stage of mourning one could wear a piece of jewellery if it contained, or was made of, hair. That would be human hair. That would be human hair taken from the deceased love one. Brooches, bracelets, rings, chains and buckles were all made of hair; sometimes there was just a bit enclosed in a hollow band or brooch, other times, the hair was crafted into a piece of its own.
A widow was to wear a bonnet of heavy crepe and a veil to cover the face for the first three months. At the end of three months the veil was to be worn from the back of the bonnet for another nine months. Altogether, restrictive mourning dress, known as widow’s weeds, was to be worn for a minimum of two years, although many widows chose to shun colour forever. The duration of wearing these clothes depended on how well the wearer knew the recently departed. A new widow would be expected to mourn her husband (and wear the full attire) for two years, unless the woman was deemed old, in which case she was expected to mourn until her own passing.
Everybody else was presumed to be easier to lose. Mourning a parent would be expected to take one year, whereas grandparents and siblings would be mourned for six months.With such low-age life expectancy and large families, Victorians were in mourning more often than not throughout their lives. Holding on to your mourning wear was considered bad luck and would bring untimely death to the family, so most would discard their outfits after wearing them.
This meant that once another family member died, more clothing would need to be made and paid for. This often gave the dressmakers – ironically – customers for life.In 1865 Henry Mayhew the social historian remarked that “Women had to put aside all their ordinary clothes and wear nothing but black, in the appropriate materials and with particular accessories, for the first stages of mourning”. The fashion for heavy mourning was drastically reduced during the Edwardian era and even more so after the Great War. So many individuals died that just about everyone was in mourning for someone. By 1918 a whole new attitude had developed and this was hastened even further by the Second World War.
Once a member of the house died, all of the mirrors in the house were to be covered. If a mirror in the house fell and broke, it was thought that someone in the home would die soon. When someone died in the house, the clock was to be stopped at the hour of death or bad luck would ensue. When a body was removed from the house, it had to be taken head-first so that it could not beckon others to follow.
Not really a mourning tradition, but a good sign of the times: Coffin alarms. The fear of being buried alive was so severe that a device known as a coffin alarm was invented. The contraption was simply a bell attached to the headstone with a chain that connected to a ring placed on the finger of the corpse. (Gives the term “dead ringer” a whole new meaning.) There were outbreaks of many diseases at the time that would leave the body in a comatose state. It could take nothing more than a careless physician or an underlying disease to pronounce the sufferer as deceased, and for the funeral preparations to begin almost instantly.
I saw this picture of feed sacks on Twitter yesterday and all I could think of was the great poverty of the Great Depression but at the same time there is a romance to the idea that women could make something beautiful from something so mundane from an old sack of sugar or flour. In truth, feed sacks were used for sewing well before the depressions and for several years after. The evolution of the feed sack is a story of ingenuity and clever marketing.
For centuries, countless items were transported in bulky, wooden barrels and boxes, awkward and heavy to carry and store. Beginning in the mid-1850s, a plethora of cotton made bags cheap to produce and improvements in sewing machine design enabled bags to be stitched tightly shut. Barrels fell by the wayside as goods were shipped in bags, including flour, sugar, seed, animal feed, fertilizer, hams and sausages, and even ballots.
Women looked at these sacks and began to use them for everything: diapers, dish towels and also became popular for clothing items. Manufacturers saw what was happening and they began to print their cloth bags in a variety of patterns and colours.
When World War 11 rolled around fabric was in very short supply due to it being needed for military uniforms it was said that over 3.5 million women and their families were wearing garments made out of feed bags. It was simply a part of life in those days.
Magazines and pattern companies began to take notice of feed sack popularity and published patterns to take advantage of the feed sack prints. Matching fabric and even matching wrapping paper was available, too. Directions were given for using the strings from feed sacks in knitting and crocheting.
Gradually in the 50s cheaper paper bags came on the market and production of the cloth feed sack declined. I remember in the 60s they tried to bring back feed bag clothing back, but it was in style for about 5 minutes. Today, only the Amish use cotton sacks for their dry goods.
If you are looking for vintage feed sacks now they go for a pretty penny at local auctions and on Ebay they can go up to $65 or more. I am sure someone is shaking their head somewhere.:)