Yesterday I told you about how picking up evergreen cones from the Manse lawn reminded me of a sweet little game we played at a community shower in Queensborough long ago, when to be the winner you had to be able to pick up and hold in your hand more wooden clothespins than any of the other guests could. Now that was good clean fun!
The memory of the clothespin contest also got me thinking about showers, specifically bridal showers, and how they traditionally happened in Queensborough back in those days. And that reminded me of another simple but sweet tradition.
Community bridal showers (and as far as I can recall, there was a community shower for every young woman in Queensborough who was to be wed) took place at the Women’s Institute hall, the village’s former schoolhouse (now the Queensborough Community Centre). The bride-to-be would sit at the front of the room and all the guests would sit in an elongated circle around her – though one woman would be stationed right by her side. The guest of honour would open the gifts one by one and they would be passed around the circle for us each to ooh and aah at the collection of tea towels or whatever it was. But before each gift was passed, the woman at the bride-to-be’s elbow would take the bow and/or ribbon that had adorned the gift and, working quickly and nimbly, attach it to a paper plate she had ready at hand with a needle and thread. By the time all the gifts had been opened the paper plate would be a bundle of colourful ribbons and bows, and the creator would make sure two long ribbons hung down from either side. And then the confection was placed on the young bride-to-be’s head; it was a hat, you see! And it would be tied under her chin with the two dangling side ribbons. And we’d all laugh, and someone would take a snapshot or two with a Kodak Instamatic.
Is that sweet, or what?
I was so tickled to discover a photograph (very possibly taken with a Kodak Instamatic!) of just such an event when I went looking for a picture to illustrate this post. It comes from a delightful blog called My Front Porch, where blogger Judy (who lives on a dairy farm in British Columbia) writes absolutely charming posts about, as she puts it, “family, friends, food, farming, faith and a few of my favorite pastimes…did I mention travelling?” (She and her husband have just been on what sounds like an amazing road trip across North America, and her dispatches are terrific.) Judy also has a food blog, called From My Table To Yours, and she is a contributor to the astounding blog Mennonite Girls Can Cook (whence came a terrific salad recipe for last night’s dinner at our home in Montreal). She is, not to put too fine a point on it, a ball of fire – and as far as I can tell, from her blog posts and an email exchange we recently had, a lovely person.
So thanks to Judy, you can, in the photo at the top of this post, get a perfect image of what a young Queensborough woman would have looked like at the grand finale of her bridal shower at the Women’s Institute hall, c. 1971. (The only difference being that in the Women’s Institute hall there would have been a formal portrait of the Queen in the background. Hey, it was the Women’s Institute. Appearances must be kept up!) Most important point: the bow bonnet. Simple and sweet. And a long time gone.