by Patricia Daly-Lipe
The realization or recognition of old age kicks in when conversation turns to social norms. Why? Imagine what it was like in the 1940s and '50s for a child (me) in Washington, DC.
Every year, my mother and I flew from California to Washington to visit my grandmother. She was an invalid, so often Hans, the chauffeur, would drive us to visit people and places. When in the city, I had to be properly attired. This meant a dress, coat, and gloves. When my mother and grandmother wanted to speak privately, Hans would drive me to Haynes Point to roller skate under his supervision. Otherwise, they would converse in French (la langue diplomatique). So I learned the language by listening.
At the dinner table, I was not allowed to speak unless questioned directly. And one had to sit up. Never lean back in your chair.
Many stories. A lost era.