Fashion · Role of Women

“When I Was Your Age. . .” A Generation Gap Like No Other

Lizzie_Bell
Lizzie Landis, 1883-1947

Meet my grandmother, Lizzie Landis, familial name “Two Mamas.” She was born in 1883 during the Victorian Era. When she came of age, young women squeezed their bodies into corsets that pushed up their breasts, nipped in their waists, and pooched out their butt. Their skirts swept 1906_jun_purplethe floor, their necklines were high, their hats huge. They all had long hair, which they coralled with combs and hair pins at the top and back of their head. For the most part, they entertained their beaux in their own parlors under their parents’ eyes. They attended ice cream socials, church picnics, and community celebrations. They went for buggy rides and sleigh rides, but they never strayed far from home

Lizzie married my grandfather, Enos Landis, in 1905. She was 22 years old.

Grace_Landis
Grace Landis, 1908-1996

Now meet my mother. Grace Landis was born in 1908 and came of age during the twenties.  World War I, which ended in 1918, had abruptly changed everything.  Grace and her young friends must have given their mothers the vapors! The older women were no longer wearing the elaborate dresses of their youth, of course, but they were modest, some would say frumpy dressers. And Lizzie wore a corset for the rest of her life. Not the corset of her youth, but a sausage casing with stays and a network of laces that “held her in.”

But the daughters!! Their dresses exposed their legs, bare arms, and even their backs. They threw off the corset. Some of them rolled their stockings below the knee. They bobbed their hair and got “permanents.” They wore makeup, smoked cigarettes, and “went out on dates”—in an automobile—alone—with a man. They danced the charleston and lindy hop with wild abandon. As for Grace, I can’t say, but some of them disregarded Prohibition and even went to speakeasies and drank hard liquor.

flapper-costume

Grace married my father, Samuel Gillham, in 1930. She was 22. By then the Jazz Age—and the fun—was over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 thoughts on ““When I Was Your Age. . .” A Generation Gap Like No Other

  1. I love reading your (and Herb’s ) blogs! We saw Sarah/Steven/Sam last night and I commented that I always intend to respond, but , you know, life gets in the way! I see so much of Sam in this photo of your mom! I’m glad you’re happily settled in your new home and look forward to reading more of your offerings! Enjoy the summer!

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  2. I love this post! My memories of Sam and Grace are vivid when I was about 8 or 9. I can visualize a house in Mission, I believe Gigi and Neta were there .

    Thank you for your post

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  3. I can just hear the conversation. Lizzie: You are NOT leaving the house in that! Grace: But MOM, all the girls are wearing this! Lizzie: YOU are not ALL the girls! (Grace in tears runs to her room, takes her scissors and bobs her hair. Lizzie comes to her daughter’s room to patch things up and sees the cut hair.) Lizzie: Ahhhhhhhh! What have you done????? (She faints and drops to the floor. Enos arrives.) Enos: What on earth is going on here? I agree that Lizzie and Grace were participants in one of the most dramatic generation gaps of all time, but this scene is being acted out somewhere as I write this. Just substitute a tattoo or pierced body part. KIDS! (sigh)

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    1. very true. Every generation thinks the young uns are going to hell. However, I maintain this particular gap was tectonic. Once we’d been through the sexual revolution of the sixties, the shock value of anything diminished.

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  4. This brought me back to listening to my Nanny (Dad’d Mom) telling us all the rolled stocking, exposed knee, dancing and smoking scandals that she and my Grand (always Grand – never “just” Great) Aunts got into. I believe they were the source of every gray hair her Father had 🙂 She also lamented the end of the fun. Thank you!

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    1. And the fun really ended. All I can remember are rather sober parents. I always felt they had a secret life before me.

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