Watch Me Engineer This

In the middle of WWII, Curtis-Wright Cadettes at the University of Texas trained for vital war work, living in the Campus Guild and getting hands-on experience in engineering.

When nightfall came, however, they traded jumpsuits for feminine pajamas and flowy gowns. Or at least they did for this article.

Per, the Engineering Cadette Program was started in 1943 at seven universities: Purdue University, Cornell, Pennsylvania State University, University of Minnesota, Iowa State University, Rensselear University, and University of Texas. During their time in the program, the women’s educational and lodging costs were covered by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, and they received a $10 per week stipend. The graduates of 1943 completed two and a half years of engineering curriculum in ten months. Upon completion of the program, the women were assigned positions in one of five Curtiss-Wright facilities in the country. Once the war was over, the majority of the women were replaced by returning male soldiers.

Vanna’s Younger Sister Hawks Sponge

There’s Valerie White, holding it up for all the free world to see.

And Vanna looks HORRified.

Can you blame her? Sponges are nasty, no matter what kind.

A scrub brush with fibers works fine.

 Or this.

The Braless Eighties

Bra-burning began 50 years ago among protesters of the Miss America pageant, an emblem of radical feminism. Having not been alive 50 years ago, I cannot fully comprehend their behavior. I imagine most of these women would have been svelte, small-bosomed ladies like my mom and most of my friend’s mommies. Today, however, those who are fuller figured and into the C and D cups, who spend over $50 per bra, wouldn’t dare burn them. Not even for political gain.

Getty Images

Of my generation, I never knew anyone to go braless, though we did see Baby Boomer women who did, and we did witness the jiggly antics of Chrissy Snow on “Three’s Company.” This was not something we wanted to emulate. So when I see braless pics in the pages of my new (but old) 80’s Vogues, I assume it was purely for fashion reasons.

It started out subtle.

Jan 84

In the most androgynous of ways.

It presented a united front.

Apr 84

Then it got scary.

And then it took a turn into the new career woman’s ensembles. What working woman would be caught dead sans camisole, with a V nearly to her naval? And what’s with that belt? High fashion indeed.

It would have been impossible to saunter into an office and ask folks not to stare. It’s like J. Lo in her green dress. Too much liberation, with risk of escape!

One thing I do know for sure is that they sold bras in the 80s. The problem was, save for Jane Russell’s Cross Your Heart Playtex bra, they nearly all look like training bras for middle schoolers. No underwire, no support. And little cooing doves on the cups made them posilutely silly.

I can’t imagine a grown woman wearing this. I can’t imagine a bra that you could crumple up into your hand. Many of today’s top-selling bras are minimizing, taking you one cup down, having wide straps that don’t leave indentions in your shoulders, and they’d never fit in one hand. Then again, we are in an obesity epidemic. If you’re lucky enough to be able to find function in that duet brassiere, thank your lucky stars. Your back thanks you as well. You are spared the burden.

So, ladies, whether your bosom is a Dolly Parton or a Kelly Ripa, one thing is for sure: our country sure has a love/hate relationship with them.

Doing Science To See If You’re Expecting

Vogue Jan 84

Evidently, you had to do science 35 years ago to determine if you were in the family way. I’ve asked several Baby Boomer friends of mine, but none of them recall this particular pregnancy test kit, or ever using test tubes for results.

45 minutes? That’s a lot of waiting. You can eat dinner and watch a sitcom in that amount of time. And God forbid you dropped a tube, and it shattered. Anyway, times have surely changed for the better.

Pink Pup Tent

This month’s In Style magazine awarded its best dress dress prize to this Valentino Haute Couture number.

I could write a list of reasons why I couldn’t carry this dress off, including its billowy unhygienic groundscraping hem and that jawline-tickling collar. Truth be told, I’d much prefer the poofy pink dress from the mid-80s Carefree ads, of which it reminded me.

The ruffles and sheen are much more flattering. And golly, she just looks happier.

Don Your Kotex For Hobo Hikes



Does this 1954 ad make ANY sense to you? Pretending to be homeless must have been a gas, gas, gas. Sulphur and molasses was actually considered a spring tonic back in the day, though it sounds wretched. Shreds and patches is how Hamlet referred to his uncle, so this has got me vexed. I guess I’m not in the know.

And the rest of it? I suppose that was young peep’s slang. What woman of childbearing age would want to be accused of being a “mope-at-home” or “social sluggard”? Certainly not me! Slap a Kotex on and get to hobo hiking.

Mend No More

"Going Going Gone" by Jonas & Nissenson
“Going Going Gone” by Jonas & Nissenson

When’s the last time you mended a garment? I don’t mean a simple button replacement; I mean adding a knee patch, darning a sock. For me, the answer is never. Mending is a lost art. It’s much easier to drive a mile down the road and grab a dozen socks for $10 than repair the one with the hole in the heel. That sock was weak and deserves the trash.

I wonder if some readers have never seen a plastic wicker sewing backet.

I own my great-grandmother’s sewing basket, similar to this one, but I confess I’ve never used anything inside. Sentiment over function. At this point, it’s more art than utility. Do you remember one from your childhood?

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