Monday, August 4, 2008

Nana's Nightgowns

Growing up, a trip to my Nana and PapPap's was always a treat. My grandfather owned a one-man feed and grain brokerage that he ran from an office in his basement. Nana was his "secretary" and they shared a huge two-person desk, facing each other. So for me and Beth, there was always lots of playing "office." Typewriters to peck on with fingers we pretended were graced with long, painted nails (secretaries always had well-manicured nails); stamps with rotating month/day/year that we'd press onto ink pads and then date our correspondence; order pads with two sheets sandwiching a waxy, purple page of mimeograph paper so that we'd have duplicates of all orders placed; chunky, black rotary dial phones with square clear plastic buttons in a row under the dial that lit up depending on which line you were on; a big adding machine with a roll of paper. And all of it scented of PapPap's pipe tobacco, adding to the allure of being grown up and running a business.

Upstairs in the dining room, their coat closet housed a toy box, filled with old toys from our dad's childhood as well as random items that Nana and PapPap would buy or be given (an occasional can coozie or toothpick dispenser) that never fell into the toy category, but would always bring squeals of delight simply because it was new to the box. But the best part of the toy box were Nana's nightgowns. We called them negligees back then. There was nothing Victoria's Secret about them. They were all rather plain and mumu-like. But it was the fabric . . . that wonderful, flowy polyester, usually at least two layers of it. And the pastel candy colors, and satin ribbon trim, maybe even embroidered flower appliques. They were magic to us, so easy to play princess when there's lot of dreamy fabric to sashay from side to side. There was always an equally enchanting assortment of hi-heels to wear.

We'd walk the driveway in our negligees and heels, a pocketbook in the crooks of our arms, and play dress-up for hours. Out in front of the house there were two graceful mimosa trees and we'd climb them as high as we could go, sitting on the branches in our Nana gowns, hi-heels dangling. Oh what the neighbors must have thought.

When I found out that I was having a girl, the first thing I did was start a dress-up trunk. By the time Harleigh was old enough to want to play dress-up, I brought out the tub chocked full of heels, gloves, old prom gowns, purses, and . . . you bet, lots of vintage nightgowns. They were always her favorite to wear. For all the same reasons that we adored them.

This past weekend when shopping at the thrift store I came across this one and bought it to add to the dress-up trunk (never even thought of doing away with it once Harleigh grew out of dress-up play). I figure that if I have a granddaughter (or two or three), then I will grow a tradition as sweet as the one my Nana made for me.

10 comments:

Melissa Lobdell, Little Melfred's Studio said...

What a beautiful post! I had a Nana and Papap too and have so many magical memories of visits with them. xo-Mel

PS-Playing office was the best!

Gretchen said...

What a great story, full of so many precious memories. I think it's great that you still add to the collection too. Wish I had thought of that for my granddaughters.

Gretchen

Moiface said...

What a fabulous idea! I'll have to remember that if I have a girl someday.

Debbies-English-Treasures said...

OH, SO NICE...
PLEASE SHOW US MORE...
I BET YOUR COLLECTION, ITS SO WONDERFUL TO LOOK AT.
KISSES KISSES
DEBBIE
XXX

Empty Nest Full Life said...

Those dress up days at grandma's house were so much fun. I've already started a few things for fun at grandmas whenever that happens.

Pecos Blue said...

Wow it is beautiful. Makes me think of something they would wear on Mad Men. We love that show right now.

Alison Boon said...

Lovely post. I loke what you did to the photos in the previous post. Technology just wants to steal our time. I used to adore dressing up, and my little one is up for "borrowing" whatever items of clothing she can.

potty mouth mama said...

That was such a beautiful and rich post.. It made me feel so excited, filled me with those feelings of being small, playing office and dress-ups.. So beautiful.. And that nightgown that you found is gorgeous.. Gosh I'd wear it now!! Great find.

Thanks for all the good feelings you've inspired.

Daisys Little Cottage said...

What a sweet post. I remember dressing up and prancing around the lawn and up and down the street with my dressed up friends. It was so much fun. Old millinery hats and we had the long beads too...around our neck. What a lovely find in that green nightie!
smiles
DarLy*~

Liz said...

Oh Dawn! That's lovely.

Thoughts on Breaking Dawn? :)

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