Do You Remember Handkerchiefs?

“The past is not a package one can lay away.”

-Emily Dickinson-

journal entry:

In days gone by, women carried pretty handkerchiefs.  They were little squares of white or cream colored cotton.  They were trimmed with lace.  Sometimes they had tiny flowers on them and sometimes even embroidery.  Women carried them in their purses, pushed them up their sleeves, or gently hid them just below the neckline of their dresses.  They daintily blew their noses with them or patted their brows if they were warm or dabbed their eyes if they felt a tear coming. Sometimes they waved hello or good-bye with them. In movies they are shown with their arms out of train windows, waving lacy, white handkerchiefs.  My grandmother wrapped peppermints in hers.  She tied them in a knot in one corner.  She could also tie her handkerchief into a little baby.  I remember being a little more quiet in church as I tried to figure out how she had done it.  My grandmother used to put a new handkerchief in each card she sent to me.  I can still see the small, folded square.  It was a very appropriate gift to give in days gone by.  Is it possible that a young girl today . . . getting one in a birthday card . . . would ask what it was ?  Handkerchiefs have to be ironed.  You can’t just throw one in your purse out of the dryer.  Ironed and folded neatly.  After many washings they become thin.  This very fact shows that you have been using it.

This little handkerchief is 10 inches by 10 inches.  It is made out of 100% cotton as were the handkerchiefs of old.  I trimmed it with a delicate white lace and pressed it until it was without a wrinkle.  I love to remember things like this.  They come from a simpler time.  I can see that paper tissues have taken the place of handkerchiefs for women.

Many men still carry handkerchiefs.  Grandpa does.  They come out of their pockets white and folded.  Whenever there is a problem, the handkerchiefs come out of the pockets.  There are tiny things in the past that I miss.  Lacy handkerchiefs are among those things.

“With the past, I have nothing to do, nor with the future.

I live now.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson-


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