Buttons! That’s what got me started on this blog.
As I write this novel I have often had to stop and ask myself the simplest of questions about the time periods I’m writing about. Sometimes theses intrusions have been quite annoying, especially when seeking the answers to these simple questions end up becoming more complex than I could have ever first imagined. This annoying research has led me to uncovering the most fascinating tidbits of information. It has also led me to connect with the most interesting people in a wide variety of fields.
This brings me back to BUTTONS. Since this is a novel in which a sexual relationship is prominent I became fascinated by the amount of clothes people wore in the 1940s. I, of course, always knew they wore more clothes than we do, especially women, but when I actually had to write a love scene and deal with the removal of all those clothes without losing the flow of the story it all became much more viscerally real. I was glad I wasn’t writing about 1910.
Questions about clothing led me into an exploration of BUTTONS, which I found absolutely fascinating, because there was a philosophy behind it. Women in the 1940’s did not wear zippers on their clothing; dresses, blouses, skirts were most often closed with buttons. Even men’s pants did not have zippers until the late 1930s. Zippers were considered immodest and too suggestive for the ladies. This was something they really thought about and considered important.
And more buttons: Last night I was talking about this with a friend of a friend on our way to the theater. This led her to tell me about her grandmother’s button box. She said that people back then never threw out buttons. When an item of clothing was discarded the buttons were taken off and saved. From this woman’s memory came my own. My step grandmother had her own button tin. Every time my sister and I went over to visit she would bring out that darn button tin and try to get us to play with the buttons. How my sister and I hated those buttons. But now, in this new historical context they have taken on a different meaning to me. My step-grandmother was linking my sister and I to another generation and as is true with most kids we could have cared less. But, now, today as I work on this novel and try to discover the reality of my characters this crossing into another generation has come to matter.
Purpose of this blog: This is my hope for this blog. That you and I might share bits of history, not the textbook type, but the small every day life type of history that historians rarely pay attention to. I plan to report on new tidbits I’ve discovered and if you have something to add or to correct please do. Also if any of these tidbits should trigger a memory about yourself, a relative or if your reminded of a story you heard I hope you’ll share it. Sometimes, I may not be able to track down an answer to one of my questions and I’ll put out there, hoping one of you might know.
Now on to ZIPPERS