Monday, July 14, 2008

The Argus Observes: Women of a certain age

(Editor’s note: My father, who was 39 when he wrote this in 1954, always liked women who were his own age --- sometimes even older. Over time to I came to understand that he cared more for intellect and worldliness than looks. So this column represented his true feelings though if they had been otherwise I doubt he’d have written it for his own newspaper. He usually tried to avoid the wrath of my mother, for good reason, and I am not even sure this one slipped past that. For what it’s worth, that’s him, at about this age, on the cover of my novel, Farewell Bend, along with my mother and brother. For a picture of my dad when he matured some, you can go to my photo gallery at )

From The Argus-Observer of July 15, 1954

A recent experience may be a sign that middle age is here or not far away.

I noticed a nice looking woman on the street the other day, gal nearing 40 I’d say. She had a gracious, natural dignity, a lithe, easy movement as she walking and a charming manner --- real nice.

And I thought to myself “ … wonder why their younger sisters don’t have quite the quality possessed by the girls of my generation.”

Then it came to me that it was something about the way she was dressed. Somehow there was an expression of taste in her clothes a little different than would be selected by today’s girl of 20.

And whatever it was, it was all interconnected with a feeling of belonging with and preferring the contemporaries of my own age. Just a fleeting thought, and then it was forgotten.
Later in the day it was brought back to mind by a conversation with Joe Marquina, manager of Toggery Bill’s.

It’s hard to create much new business with the older men unless their young in spirit,” Joe said. “They don’t take very fast to new ideas in clothes.”

I recalled a distinguished and dressy old boy of my acquaintance who still wars shoes instead of oxfords. And while Joe and I talked a customer of the appropriate age came in and asked for a sailor straw.

We all tend to cling to things and the habits associated with our youth. Things that help us to capture an old feeling of well being, a feeling that must stem from some pleasant emotional origin.

Now believe it or not, I don’t know who the woman was who started this train of thought, can’t remember a thing about her, wouldn’t recognize her if I met her again.

All I remember is the impression. She might have been any one of dozens of women who have certain qualities that date them but qualities that are pleasing to me just the same.

But I can’t help wonder if these girls of my vintage will still be the best lookers among women in another 20 years.

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