We weren’t so FOF in 1964

“Nothing can make an old woman look better,” says young copywriter, Peggy Olson, when her male colleague suggests they write an ad for Pond’s cold cream that targets mature women.


Peggy is an employee of fictional sixties ad agency, Sterling Cooper Draper and Pryce, on the hit TV show, MadMen. But anyone old enough to remember that far back knows the characters all are chillingly realistic. Men smoke, drank and sexed it up; they needed to be rewarded for a hard day’s work. Women got married, catered to their husbands’ appetites (all two of them) and stayed home to raise the kiddies.

If a woman worked, she usually became a teacher, a nurse or a secretary.  If she had lots of ambition (like Peggy), she probably had to sacrifice a good relationship, the marriage and the kiddies.  If she didn’t marry by 23, she was an “old maid.” By 50, she was an antique, married or not.  By 63, she might as well have been dead. She didn’t worry about anti-aging creams, hormone therapy or Botox. Wrinkles, crow’s feet and frown lines came with the territory. So did midriff bulge, sagging breasts and thinning hair.

Today, we’re only limited by our own imaginations, drive and spirit. The FOF generation is like no other generation in the history of women. We just keep getting better and better and the only thing that’s going to stop us is our last breath.

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3 Responses to “We weren’t so FOF in 1964”

  1. Jean O'Neil says:

    I agree, Toby! But, even though these women devoted their time to we children and the husbands, we really were blessed to have it that way. And I would say, a lot of those women knew fashion even the ones that came off the farm, like my mother. Getting ready for church or a special function, she would always be impeccably dressed with her face powder on just right and of course the red lipstick. And the perfume – Evening in Paris – ahhh what a memory of that fragrance!

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    • Kelly Nico says:

      I remember my MoM getting ready to go out with my Dad.I would sit on the bed and watch her put on her face powder and lip stick while the sound of soft jingling from her charm bracelet
      left me excited .She wore her girdle and stockings for special occassions.Also Evening in Paris Perfume or Jean Nate would be sprayed or poured….Thanks for the Memory.
      When i was 30 my Mom gave me her charm bracelet and (my daughter Elizabeth was 2 years old) so i wear that charm bracelet on special occassions.When Elizabeth turns 30 i will give her the charm bracelet!!!

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  2. Toby Wollin says:

    In 1964, I was in the 6th grade, taught by Mrs. Hennessy, who to our minds was ancient. She had white hair, wore dresses half-way down her calves, and black perf’d heeled tie oxfords in the late fall and winter and white ones (the original ‘nurse’s shoes’) in September and June. When I was in college and home on a vacation, I was out shopping with my mother and we ran into her. My mom inquired what she was doing at that point and she replied that she’d just retired from teaching. So, she had just turned 65 that year. I am now older than she was when I had her as my sixth grade teacher. Why did she look so OLD when she was about 55?
    Well, first, 55 year old ladies WERE old. At that time, someone that age had generally had a lifetime of hard work behind them. They had also been born early enough to experience: WWI and WWII, the Great Influenza Epidemic of 1917-1918, the Great Depression, various polio epidemics, and goodness knows what childhood diseases which if they did not kill them probably harmed them in ways that they could not even imagine.
    Second, 55 year old ladies at that time DRESSED old. Older women tend to lose height. Even if they were not, ahem, stout, with shrinkage, the waistline got thicker. They had their own size range, called ‘half sizes’ (my mom threatened me when I was growing up that if I did not lose weight, I’d end up in half sizes – no such luck. No one makes them any more). I remember the displays of ‘half size’ women’s clothing from our local store: black, dark blue, dark green, little ditsy patterns, little white collars, long skirts. Old lady clothing. Margaret Dumont (Groucho Marx’s foil in almost all of his movies) would have felt completely comfortable shopping there.
    They ACTED old. My teacher rarely smiled – her teeth were awful. Modern dental care had not touched that generation at all.
    One of the reasons why ’50 is the new 40′ is all the benefits we have from modern medicine, dentistry, better nutrition, less bone crushing labor, and frankly, the thought that it’s ok to have fun, even if you are an adult, married, and with kids. A completely different situation for those people who were born after WWII.

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