Monologue tells story
of Girl in White...
The Last Interview...
By Gretta Barclay
Well, yes, you are right. I never do interviews, but you were so kind with your review of my new art piece that I could hardly refuse you now could I. Yes, Friday morning will be just fine. I am always up early so we can get started right when you arrive at nine. I will be looking for you. We will have a cup of tea to get started. Mind you, I will not say anything about my late husband, or any of the men in my life. That is off limits. If you stick to my art work, you will be fine.
Oh honey, you want to know why I didn’t begin painting sooner. Well, you know, I was right on the cusp of the new generation, the one that came busting in after 1959. I felt women of my generation were the “left-behinds” as we watched our sisters go roaring into a new way of life with opportunities we never had. We were very limited in our life choices; oh, we could have been a teacher or a nurse, or God forbid, a secretary, but most of all, we needed to be wives and mothers to have any respectability at all. Children too; yes we needed to have children.
A big family was something to be proud of back then, and if you were Catholic, like me, well then… the seven of us made quite a showing. And we were raised to be prim and proper, clean and neat, not what showed up in the 60ies where kids went around with long hair, dirty clothes, ripped jeans and star-glazed eyes. Many of them were painters, but what was the respectability in that? But still, I envied them their freedom, especially their freedom of thought.
I was buried in the mores of my generation, and we were supervised by a mother who stayed at home as she should in those days and watched over her brood. God knows she must have wanted to escape her life at times, but there was no room for free thinking back then. Think of the pressure she had to keep everything going; meals, clean clothes, school uniforms and a happy disposition for her husband when he came home from a full day of work downtown at a stuffy office with no air-conditioning.
Think of it, no air conditioning, but you wouldn’t know about that. But, no wonder her husband came home tired and grumpy, looking for his cocktail before dinner and a pleasant meal she had spent part of her day cooking.
Some would say it was an easier life back then and yes, in some ways it was. Certainly more simple than today when nothing can get done without the technology know-how of a robot. Back then we didn’t even have T.V. Imagine all the time we had with nothing to do. I read of course, book after book with my favorite place being the side porch with its squeaky hanging swing that all my siblings and I fought over. The first one done with their chores usually got it.
Oh yes, we all had to do chores back then, not like today where it’s toss and go, even the adults. Houses with young children today are like land-mines with toys, clothes, books, bottles and everything else left on the floor. It is a wonder I have not broken a leg tripping over everything when I visit my grandchildren.
I didn’t mind chores so much, actually…I do think it builds character, and I have always liked certain neatness. I was always trying to organize my six siblings into a more structured existence -- without much success.
Yes, we were certainly limited in our outlook and expectations; that my mother had graduated from college was unheard of at the time; she was smart and deserved to go to college, unlike myself, I think, who went because my very intelligent parents wanted this for their seven offspring.
I followed my two older brothers with not a clue about why I was doing it, or lord knows what good it was going to do me. After all, I had gone to an all girl’s private Catholic school, a kind of finishing where we learned the Classics but not much math or science. The study of literature was important then, though, and this is what interested me most, and art, of course, which we had there, too.
I didn’t even know how to pick out clothes, for God’s sake, after going to school for twelve years in uniforms. This was a school with a purpose to put out gracious and refined women to become the doting wives of the business men of the community, and yes, I did that for awhile. But nothing prepared me for the difficulties of life, and the many problems one could encounter in real family life....
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