My Suitcase and the Screaming Sixties



A post by writer Doreen Frick:

Cleaning out boxes last month netted me some old memories: stashed away photos from my childhood. Me in short bangs and sun suits. Mom pregnant, again trying to hide the whole thing from the camera with a big birthday cake or baby still in diapers. The stuff of my youth.

But what I was really looking for, the one thing I really miss from back then and don’t know what happened to, was my old luggage. The mod orange and black and green fabric with a wildness that screamed a fun trip was coming. The zipper on the side pocket angled just right for candy, gum, pens, diaries.

And then I remembered my sturdy pink train case with mirror and frilly elastic to hold my special beauty products, (like a brush), a case so perfect that when the push button popped it open, the soft insides smelled like talcum and lady-like things.


Armed with my baseball card and comic book collection, my patent leather Sunday shoes, and my trusty Keds, there was nothing I couldn’t squeeze into those two travel cases. Mom always let me pack myself, God love her. One unforgettable week at camp I left home without any fresh underwear. Never again would I make that mistake! Mom showed up the next afternoon with a week’s supply and a hearty second hug goodbye.

Those were the days of September school bags with straps and buckles. We carried them like a briefcase, hauling home a desk full of books and assignments. They were always brown, like the paper bags we cut and taped and covered our school books in and though we always got new clothes, new ankle socks, and a new pencil case, seems we always carried the same worn-out school bag with no personality. A sorry-looking bag filled with paper-sack covered science and history and math books.


When I was fifteen my dad let my sister and I redecorate our bedroom. I chose the same motif I’d picked for my luggage, my beloved luggage. The headboard of my bed was fit for a queen, contoured in plush deep pink velvet; our walls, Dad papered psychedelic with a new slick vinyl feel to them.


My sister says our windowsills were the only calm thing in the room. Maybe we ran out of colors, because we painted them a powder blue. In one short summer I’d stepped out of my Mary Janes and into moccasins. And love beads. And the Moody Blues.


And when we returned to school, Dad took us to a stationery store where we picked out book covers that were colorful and striped and flower-printed. We were happy, so so happy to be stepping into a new era. Even my mother got into the act and re-did her kitchen, the living room, in fact the whole house grew more colorful.

Gone were the dark depressing brown walls and practical gray carpets. One day we woke to a pink fireplace (yes pink!) and deep purple rugs. The sixties were screaming into our little house in Huntingdon Valley, and I think it all started with my crazy luggage.


Doreen Frick is very happy to re-live her sixties. She loved the peasant blouses and the bell bottoms, and the cars her brother used to drive (GTO’s), and the simple things like everybody enjoying the same television show and watching together after dinner. . .


Downsizing: Let the Show Go On!



The downsizing continues at our house!

I’ve donated items to our local relief agency. I’ve provided auction items for the Burwell School, an historic school here in Hillsborough. I’ve sent vintage clothing to the Theater Development Fund in New York. The fund supplies costumes to theater groups across the United States. I’ve taken cartons of books to our library’s book sale.

And here’s my latest project!

Orange Community Players is putting on Arsenic and Old Lace at the end of February. They needed fuddy duddy antiques for the set. (That’s my choice of words). The set’s creator, Bob Sharp, called. “Barbara, we thought of you. Do you have furniture we could borrow?”

Did I! Bob came and picked out chairs, an old dresser to serve as a sideboard, and a Victorian settee.These are pieces I don’t plan to move to the new house. Then it hit me: Someone in the show, helping with the show, or attending the show might want to buy a piece of my furniture. So I offered Bob a deal. They help sell my furniture (word of mouth and a note in the program), and the money will go right to Orange Community Players.


I  did a Facebook post of the furniture leaving my driveway. We’ve got a sale of the needlepoint chairs! Thank you, Robin.

We’ll see if the rest of the pieces sell. Hope so! But no matter what, it’s going to be fun to sit in the audience and admire antiques that have served me loyally over the years. I just hope soon, they’ll serve someone else who will love them too.


The Theater Development Fund accepts donations of clothing for their wardrobe collection. Email them, and if you have items they want, they’ll pay the postage. Read more here.

Do Big Girls Cry?



As a little girl, I remember sitting on our back steps, sobbing about something.

“Dad,” my brother said, “can you die from crying?”

My father, perhaps fed up with my waterworks, answered,”I suppose you could.”

Instantly, I stopped crying.

But I can promise you a day or two later, I cried about something else.

Can you remember your cries? I can, lots of them.

A brother’s teasing. Anger at a parent’s restrictions. The friend fights. The cruel boss. The marriage conflicts. The loss of a pregnancy. The illness of a parent. The death of pet.

Sometimes we cry  for no precise reason, just because life piles up and topples over. Those cries often feel the best.

Can you remember the places you’ve cried?  I can.

On the floor by my bed at age ten. In the hall at high school, hoping no on noticed. In the shower in the dorm, where no one could notice. On a walk. In the car. The middle of the night on the couch, when the rest of the household is asleep.

When menopause set in, my crying stopped. Life was calm then, so perhaps that’s why, but for a while I thought it was the change in hormones.

And you know what? That lack of crying felt odd to me–almost like I’d lost a part of myself.

I shouldn’t have worried. Two years later, the tears came back. I don’t cry like a preschooler or a high schooler or a thirty-year old, but I’m back to crying if it fits the bill.

So I guess the answer is, big girls really do cry. And we’re glad of it! Crying has both psychological and physical benefits. Scientists promise us that tears have a happy purpose.

What about you? Do you cry more or less now that you’re older?

Here’s an interesting article about crying on the website How Stuff Works. The writer points out that many men find themselves starting to cry at midlife. Scientists suspect this is a lowering of testosterone combined with the lack of inhibition that can strike when men are in their fifties and sixties.

Photo: I snapped this photo when I toured the Durham Performing Arts Center a few years ago. I wrote about the tour on this Friend for the Ride post.  I suspect the signatures are members of the Four Seasons. Love this song!

March On!



When the women’s movement ramped up in the sixties, my mom embraced it. Her enthusiasm helped me champion women’s rights too. Years later, I made certain my own daughters understood the women’s movement. I wanted them to really get that life had opened up for them thanks to the women who fought in decades past.

Of all the photos from Saturday’s marches, this is my favorite. My friend Lindsley went to D.C., bringing with her four kitty hats made by another Hillsborough friend. She gave two of the hats to sisters riding the metro with their mom en route to the march. What a story they’ll tell of their day in Washington. Girl power! Women power! March on!

In case you missed the collection of photos put together by the New York Times, here they are, from sea to shining sea and across the world.