Aug 26, 2010

Things that remind me of my mom: the '80s

Well this just went and turned itself into a series. I didn't intend to do four posts on things I remember from the '80s, but it's happening. So far I've made a list of general things that remind me of my childhood, a list of things that remind me of my sister from the same time period, and now it's my mom's turn. (Dad, get ready. Yours is coming next week.)

(Too bad I didn't know all the rest of you back then; I could build an entire blog around it.)

One of the things I remember about growing up was a distinct excitement when my parents would have Date Night. It meant that we would have a babysitter, and we always hoped it would be one we could talk into letting us stay up well past our bedtime. One in particular -- whose name escapes me now -- would let us stay up until we saw headlights sweep past the front windows, and then she'd tell us to race up to our rooms, get in bed and pretend to be asleep. For all I know, it was only 8:01 at that point ... but staying up even a few minutes late felt mysterious and daring at that age.

I DIGRESS. The POINT is that I associate several things about my mom with Date Night. She could always be counted upon to use copious amounts of aerosol hairspray to hold her look in place.

And she had a drawer full of L'eggs pantyhose from which to choose the perfect shade ... which was usually REALLY tan.

And there were lots of times I grabbed that pink-and-green tube of mascara off the counter, just to see what it was like. It was usually "like" a mess.

But the MOST telltale sign of Date Night was -- and still is -- Shalimar perfume. I'll remember that scent to my grave. It STILL makes me think of babysitters every time I smell it.

Mom has had many cars since I was born, but two stand out in my mind. The first was her blue Datsun 210 station wagon. Those seats were HOT in the Summer.

The second was her tan station wagon with the faux wood paneling. I couldn't find a picture of the exact model, but this is sort of close to it. This style of wagon was the Honda Odyssey of my youth; almost every mom in the cul-de-sac had one of some description.

Brownies remind me of my mom, too. My troop met in a church in Marietta, and all I remember about the experience was singing the song ("I have something in my pocket that belongs across my face. I keep it very close to me, in a most convenient place. I bet you'll never guess it if you guess a long, long while, so I'll take it out and put it on, it's a great big Brownie smile!") and that the room was really poorly lit, even in the daytime. And also, I was a real stickler about Mom sewing those badges on my sash the MINUTE I earned them.

But we didn't stop at Brownies, OH NO WE DIDN'T. We marched onward and upward, and when we moved to Raleigh I became a

My strongest memory of that is being at the Millbrook Exchange Park community center, making anise cookies. (Anise tastes like licorice, if you've never had it.) Pretty sure I earned some sort of BADGE for that.

Mom didn't carry any treats or candy around with her to appease us when we were bored or fussy. (Still doesn't.) But she carried around some sugar-free mints that -- when we were totally desperate, like in church -- we would dig around in her purse to find.

Here's a fact: Velamints tasted about the same whether they were fresh out of the package or if they'd been floating around loose in the bottom of her purse for six weeks before we found them.

And speaking of her purses, Mom was a Purse Hound. She's never carried EXPENSIVE purses, name-brand purses, but she's always had a ton of purses of some description and color. And you know what REALLY floated her boat? Her wood purse handle with interchangeable cotton sacks that buttoned on it. (She's always been thrifty when it comes to certain things, so this was a great find.)

Thinking about that purse and all of its mates in her closet reminded me of these socks she used to wear. Remember these?

Back in the day, she played a lot of tennis. I remember lots of pairs of those socks with different colored pom poms on them. And GUESS WHAT? They're back. This is a current picture. Go, Nike, go.        

Mom's always been a music lover and majored in piano performance in college. She liked a lot of music, though, not just piano concertos and classical music. One of her favorite albums was Hard Day's Night, and my sister and I learned every word of every song. We'd sing it at high volume in the den, and Mom thought it was great. Or at least, she SAID she thought it was great.

And while she did like some of the more popular music, she really WAS a diehard fan of some of opera's greats. Beverly Sills will always remind me of Mom ...

... as will Luciano Pavarotti.

And last but not least, as we got older and contemporary pop music got more ... je ne sais pas ... offensive? Loud? Whatever. It hurt her ears. And she'd change the station to NPR. And I am sorry. But when you are 10 years old, there's nothing you want to listen to LESS than NPR.

But eventually she was always willing to turn the station back to something we wanted to listen to, like Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Whitney Houston or Journey.

Thanks for the memories, Mom!


Sarah T. said...

Yep, you hit the nail on the head!

Mommy Kerin said...

Boy did some of this bring back memories! I am pretty sure I am a lot younger than you but my mother is 50. She used that same exact mascara. I remember shopping at Walmart for the L'eggs. I remember the way that mascara smelled. It was almost fragrant. When I got old enough to wear make-up the first mascara I tried was that famous Pink and Green tube!

It's hard to believe you were born in Hartsville, most people do not even know it exist. ;)

René said...

You must have been my next door neighbor growing up. Every time you post about the past, I crack up.


Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

Kerin, yep, you're a lot younger than I am, but some of these things must be universal and span decades. :)

Rene, I WISH you had been my next-door neighbor!

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