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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Maybe They DIDN’T Wear Clothes Back Then…

We are getting ready to go to the laundromat. Mary is telling me about one of the houses she cleans. Her eyes have taken on that misty look she reserves for well-made shoes and encounters with puppies.

“Closets and shelves, man! The place is loaded with closets and shelves!”

She pauses. “They’re rich, you know.”

We take the opportunity to look around her living room.

“What do you think?” she says. “When was this place built? 1960? 1962? There are three closets in this whole joint!”

It’s true. “Look at this,” she says. I follow her into her bedroom. She opens the closet door. “What’s that? Three feet wide, three feet deep? Didn’t they wear clothes in the sixties?”

“Not to hear my dad tell it, no.”

We go back into the living room, where I take my place on the couch. T-Bone, Labrador of Unquestioned Sincerity and Flatulent Observer puts his head in my lap. T-Bone decided some time ago that he loved me and he has not wavered in his devotion since that time.

“You’ve seen my house, right? We actually have one less closet than you do!”

Mary takes a drag off her cigarette. “We may,” she exhales, “have hit upon what divides the Haves from the Have-Nots.”

“Closet space?”

She nods. “Yes. Well, that and mud rooms.”

“I have never once lived in a house with a mud room.”

Mary laughs. “I have, but here we call it the living room.”

And we both laugh, comfortable in our getting-by-and-okay-with-it status.

“Still,” she says, snubbing out her cigarette. “How cool would it be to have a little closet space?”

She pulls my winter coat off the coat rack next to the front door, hands it to me, and roots around under an array of her and Jon’s coats for the one she’s looking for.

She finds it, puts it on, and grabs her purse, shaking her head. “Can you imagine having somewhere to put your stuff?” She shakes her head again. "Man."

39 comments:

Oilfield Trash said...

That is so true.

Pale Rambler said...

Our first house was 850 square feet and had one 4-ft-wide closet in the only bedroom. Our dryer was in our "foyer" and our washing machine was in the living room. There was no insulation in the walls and the shower in our only bathroom had rusty metal walls and a nasty stone base. I used to dream of living in a trailer...

Simply Suthern said...

We moved from a house with a carport, garage, mudroom, and a full walk through Attic( we had stuff) to a house with 3 small closets and none of the aforementioned amenities. Task one was to create an attic space. I bought on of those attic stair kits and proceeded to look for a place to install it. It was a simple decision. It should go right here where my foot went throught the ceiling sheetrock.

ellen abbott said...

I lived for 35 years in a house with one lousy little closet and it was in a room stuck on the back of the house much later. Had to have wardrobes to put our clothes in. back then (over 100 years ago when the house was built) people didn't wear clothes or at least not very many. the average Joe probably only had two sets of clothes. they didn't need any stinkin' closets.

Grant said...

If the closet concept is so important, just convert the bedroom into a giant walk-in closet. Then at night curl up on a pillow in the former closet / now bedroom. If you dose correctly you'll be unconscious during the uncomfortable moments.

savannah said...

OMG! i just realized we have a MUDROOM here on the plantation! we've been calling it the backporch! xoxoxox

Leenie said...

Good point! Very good point. Clothes in the sixties (polyester double-knit eeewwww!!!) were so goshawful ugly that no one wore them. When going out in civil public was necessary we just dragged something out of the soggy stack. We called it tie-dye and psychedelic and said anyone who didn't get it was an idiot. It worked for the emperor's tailors.

Kate Mohler said...

This brings to mind all the houses my family lived in when I was a kid. You're right: no closets! What is up with that? I'm gonna ask my mom...

Sweet Cheeks said...

I have a mudroom...unfortunately it's also my laundry room. Someday, when I make it big...boy howdy....
=]

Fragrant Liar said...

I never realized how much my closets define me, but I can tell you that without many and large closets, I feel, well, closeted. Oh, the irony.

David L Macaulay said...

funny - I have met people whose mud room is their room

The Jules said...

Last night I went to a very tidy little house, but it had the tumble dryer at the top of the stairs.

That seemed odd somehow.

Although I now fancy a fridge next to my bed.

Eva Gallant said...

I don't know if you can ever have enough closet space! And I don't even have a large wardrobe!

Joanie said...

It seems as time goes on, they realize the need for things like closets and added them. Same can be said for minivans. When minivans first came around, no cup holders. Now they have like 20! And TV!!

who said...

sexty sex, that is, I mean to say one nined six sex

1966

Hutch said...

I once lived in a house that had two - count them - two - working toilets side by side in the corner of the basement, across from the giant pooltable that came with the house. So you could take a "time out" and make sure your opponent was not cheating. The only closet was a room added onto the kitchen which was part closet and part pantry and not heated. So you could not put liquid items in there in the winter and had to remember to get your clothes out to warm up the night before. But, we did some good drinking on the back porch, with the rule being when you fell off you had to quit.

Ricky Shambles said...

Lovely snapshot. I love how you captured it.

You know, Speaker Boehner, that weepy drunk, grew up in a house with *only* one bathroom. So, you know, he might relate ...after a bottle or 3 of merlot.

Roses said...

We don't have mudrooms or closets, just wardrobes and a utility room (which is the the height of luxury in the housing round 'ere').

Maybe if we club together we can buy one whopping big house with all of the amenities.

Camille said...

Solution: Last child departed and I immediately converted that little back bedroom into a walk-in closet.

So the potential question of, "Mom, can I move back home for a few months?", is going to be answered, "No dear, your room no longer exists, but I do have a lovely place to hang your coat while you briefly visit." In fact, having the extra space is so darn worth it that I don't care if I may have to pay for their therapy some day.

Belle said...

I used to clean houses for the rich. One guy had a room just for his grand piano. The kitchen had row upon row of cupboards. Yes, I think that is the difference between the rich and not-so-rich: storage space.

John McElveen said...

Mudrooms are a must--if and when you work outside. 10 years ago--YES! Today--Not so much--just a Mat for Hope, the Lab to wipe her feet on.

As for closet space--if you had 2900 sq feet of closet space--us men would still get 4 feet of that!

Great Post!!

John

Misfit Mommy (aka the Antichrist) said...

When I win the lottery, my first requirement in the house I'm having built is a closet so damn big you'll need a map to get through it. Until then, the love seat in my bedroom works just fine as an extension of my closet!

Jinksy said...

All sounds normal to me - ferreting to find coats in a heap....LOL

Linda Medrano said...

We moved into a big Victorian house about 10 years ago. I turned a room into a closet. There was just no other option. I think 130 years ago, people were a lot smaller and had a lot fewer clothes. My husband's closet is actually the closet in the room I chose for my closet. Ha!

Andrew Green said...

I prefer to keep my clothes in a cardboard box on the floor....

Chris Phillips said...

I liked this line, “Not to hear my dad tell it, no.”

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

In the South, the laundry room is the 'mud room.'
And your profile says cat wrangler. Don't see that on a resume often!

Gigi said...

Too funny, Pearl. And so true. But no matter how many closets (or storage space) you have - somehow it never seems to be enough....

I think my next house will be all closets - with only a kitchen and a bathroom.

Jhon Baker said...

building code now requires a closet in every bedroom for it to be considered a bedroom. not bad - most of my life I've had a closet except when I lived in mudrooms, back porches, and other not so desirable places. I couldn't imagine the perils of not having a closet in the foyer area. A mudroom would be nice though - especially one that the washer and dryer were located in - killing two pheasants with one shell and all. My brother has a mudroom which doubles as the cat box - the whole damn room, I'm sure the cats are happy but man.... More closets than 1 in each bedroom and foyer is too much though. I've never felt so wealthy with my five closets than I do now. thanks!

Jhon Baker said...

Gigi - just read your comment and all I can say is a quote from the brilliant David Byrne - "What house is big enough for two? we'll fill it up before we're through..."

Carrie Lynne said...

So this is the reason why I became a hoarder. Too few closets...

alwaysinthebackrow said...

Yes, the amount of clothes and stuff expands or contracts according to the space available. when we moved into this houes, it seemed so big, we had so much extra space, we'd never fill it.
It's full.

mapstew said...

You should be a Rockstar, like me! We don't need closets (or wardrobes, as we say on the Continent), we NEVER wear clothes twice Man! Our 'people' just lay out new clothes for us every few hours! MAN you is poor! (I have your address, all my old stuff is on the way.)

Happy New Year! :¬)

xxx

tattytiara said...

My house was built in 1930. One, tiny closet. Little wonder the previous owner put literally dozens of coat hooks all over every door in the house! But also he was a little insane, too.

The Lissst! said...

Hi. First time poster, long time reader. Love your blog. This post was awesome! Something about it. Oh, and I'm a fellow Minnesotan...well...born in Mankato, but that counts right!

Lazarus said...

Pearl, walk-in closets, laundromats, dog flatulence, you can wring comedy out of anything. Just started your book, it's hilarious. Is there any topic that you can't make funny? I'm guessing not...

Tempo said...

My place has just one closet, and a small one at that. The place where I was born and raised had one closet less that that!...you've got HEAPS (rich buggers)

Cheeseboy said...

I don't think people had closets in the olden days when old homes were built. Our house was built in 40 and has two closets total, which is perfect because when I had closets, I was always cleaning out our closets.

I liked this post!

Angie said...

I once rented a cottage built in the 30's and it had ONE closet that could hold about 10 items of clothing. I think they only wore two outfits back then. Work and Sunday-go-to meetin.'