Tag Archives: Bertha Corbett Melcher

Suntan: A Partial Grief Observed

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Do you remember when you first heard that suntan was bad for your skin?

I was in my early twenties. I remember such sadness. Oh no!  No more tans?  No more baby oil?  No more covering record albums with aluminum foil to catch the rays in early spring?  No returning from the beach in August to praises of “You’re so tan!”

I tanned for a few more years. When I had my first patch of pre-skin cancer removed from my face, I got more vigilant with the sunscreen.

But I’m still sad. I miss those days of being pleased in the evening when the day’s latest tanning emerged on the skin. I miss putting out my forearm with a buddy to see who is tanner. I miss “Where you at the beach? You’re so tan.”

Or am I that sad? Remember how the sunburns felt?  Horrible.

Remember when the peeling started up on your nose?

Remember when a cloudy day at the beach was devastating news? My friend Mari Fran Miller said it to me thirty years ago: “You know, I’ve started to enjoy my vacations more now that I don’t worry about getting a tan. I can relax.”  She’s right!

I’m happy for the next generation. Those who are careful, as my girls  are, will probably look younger than I do as I approach sixty. At the moment, that sounds pretty cool to me.

What about you?  Do you miss the fun of getting a tan? Do you allow yourself a light one (as I do on legs and arms)? Any favorite sunscreens?

Sunbonnet Sue: And don’t you wish we could go back to the Sunbonnet Sue generation to see how those ladies looked at sixty?

My friend Marilyn Chinis gave me Sunbonnet Sue, above, a sachet that once belonged to her mom. Thanks, Marilyn!

 The lady below, Bertha Corbett Melcher, is known for her Sunbonnet Sue designs. She began by illustrating, The Sunbonnet Babies, published in 1900. The character was soon picked up for a primer series, and Sue began to appear on postcards, china, and quilts.