I thoroughly enjoy historical places- especially ones that have been tastefully restored. Usually one of two things happen to historical places and either option breaks my heart. Either they are completely razed to the ground or are left to rot with maybe a haphazard or architecturally and/or aesthetically poor attempt at restoration. The Harding Hotel pictured above by and large is a tasteful restoration of a building that had been left to rot for over 25 years. The lower floors have the original restored woodworking (very lovely and I should have taken pics the last time I was there…) and are used as reception halls and conference rooms, while the upper floors have been converted into senior citizen apartments.
Ironically the hotel hadn’t even been finished before President Harding died, so it was never really used for its intended purpose, which was to be a high-faluting hotel for dignitaries and others to frequent when President Harding came back to town. What ended up happening is that the hotel builders built that day’s equivalent to a Hilton in the middle of nowhere. Once President Harding died, nobody was looking too much to Marion, OH as a high-faluting tourist destination. Granted, today the Popcorn Festival brings some local crowds, but these aren’t the kind of people who go for four or five star digs. These are rednecks in Dale Earnhardt wife-beater t-shirts, whose behemoth women sport too-small tank tops and tacky tramp stamps, whose kids don’t wear shoes until they have to go to school, and for whom silverware at meal times is a formality. If one lives far enough away (or drinks too much beer to drive home) the Super 8 has cable, an indoor pool, and it’s really close to both the Steak-n-Shake and the exit ramp to US23.
Perhaps I shouldn’t diss redneck culture the way I do, but there is a small part of me that bemoans the lack of civility and grace in society that seemed far more evident in the past. If one looks at photography from the 1950’s and earlier one does not see tramp stamps, tank tops, large women wearing no bras, wife-beater t-shirts or just general slovenliness. All those drugs in the 1960’s must have warped people’s brains. Granted, they gave us Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, but I could have done without the whole hippie no-bathing-let-it-all-hang-out trend which really hasn’t completely gone away. Some things resist entropy until the very end, or perhaps slovenliness and unkempt appearances are the butt-end of entropy, and therefore it remains the same because it has achieved its chaotic goal. I would have liked to think that an age of enlightenment would have involved clean clothes and soap, but my priorities are never the same as the rest of the world’s.
The 80’s weren’t bad from a general clothing perspective, (especially buff dudes in Spandex) but if I had to pick a fashion decade it would have to be the 1940’s. Fashion designers were probably still queer, but they weren’t designing everything so it only fits and looks good on emaciated 12 year old boys. I think by 1965 or so somebody forgot that women are supposed to have boobs, and some women with ample chests like to wear clothing that said boobs don’t fall out of. At least it is still possible, with a little work, to find bathing suits that do not expose midriff or have such huge leg holes that the whole world gets to see most of your butt cheeks as well as most of your surgical scars and/or stretch marks. I need a bathing suit to do a couple of important things- restrain the puppies so that they don’t fly up out of the top of the bathing suit when I go off the diving board, and cover everything from my boobs to as far south as mid-thigh. That’s what I need to both prevent “wardrobe malfunctions,” and to keep from revealing things better left unseen, such as surgical scars and stretch marks. I don’t want to share the pool with projectile vomiters.
Above is an example of acceptable swim attire for me. It’s the only exception I ever make to the “shirts must have sleeves” rule.
Below is an example of swimwear that will never be acceptable to me, even if I were as anorexic-thin as Calista Flockhart (which I am definitely not.)
Nobody on God’s green earth would ever want to see me in one of these things. Speaking of swimwear, I simply had to notice that Target was right on it with the swimwear display. On January 5th. This is Ohio, people. Unless you are lucky enough to belong to an indoor pool, or to vacation in the Bahamas, I don’t see the point in buying swimwear now that won’t get worn until at least Memorial Day. I find it rather impossible to think about buying bathing attire when there’s three feet of snow outside and it’s 10 degrees.
Fashion has taken some rather abysmal turns in recent years, especially with the lack of coverage. I would be a lot happier if it suddenly became trendy for guys to refrain from displaying hairy butt cleavage and boxer short waist bands. It would thrill me if teenage girls would refrain from dressing like scantily clad prostitutes, and that it would again become trendy for dresses and women’s shirts to have sleeves. I could do the Stevie Nicks 1985 or thereabouts look just fine, including the platform shoes. I also wish it were more socially acceptable for women to wear hats, for instance. I enjoy wearing hats. Perhaps I should have been born in England, where it is perfectly acceptable for white women to wear outlandish hats.
I’m trying really hard to stay out of my inevitable winter funk, but it’s not easy. I don’t mind the cold- and it hasn’t been terribly cold so far as Central Ohio winters go- but I do mind the dark. Dark when I wake up. Dark when I go to work. Dark when I go home. Acck. I only see daylight on the weekends, if I can stay awake long enough. Maybe that’s why the world looks like such a hopeless and pathetic place by the end of February. Snowbooger grey.
In Victorian times there were all sorts of maudlin displays surrounding death and mourning. Particularly intriguing was the lachrymatory or tear bottle. The idea was that when a loved one died you saved your tears in the bottle and on the one year anniversary of the death you sprinkled the tears on the grave. I can’t help but think that the Victorians got this idea from a Biblical reference:
“Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” Psalm 56:8 (KJV)
I’m not much of a crier. The only problem I have with my tearful outbursts is that they come out at the most inopportune and bizarre times. I can’t do the tears on demand thing, and tears elude me at the point of pain. I almost always go to funerals as a stoic, silent observer, detached from the surroundings, no matter how close I was to the deceased or how grieved I am over the death, but my tears come later, sometimes 20 years later, unbidden, like a sudden storm on a summer day.
Sometimes I want to cry and I can’t, no matter how much better it would make me feel, especially when the weight of sorrow and longing and regret is almost more than I can carry. I almost wish I could be a woman who wears her emotions on her sleeve- it’s probably healthier- but I usually have to deal with my heart in private and in the dark. It’s more dignified that way.