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The Evening Bag

I've been enjoying my "nostalgia" posts, and I have another story tonight.

A few weeks ago Kelly went to her first big dance-- the winter semi-formal at her school. She didn't have a date and went with a group of friends. It was a big deal with a new dress and shoes and makeup for the first time. The dance was at a country club, and she and her friends went to a French restaurant for dinner before the dance.

Kelly decided to wear gold shoes, so this seemed the time to pass on my mother's gold evening bag to the next generation. I brought the bag out to show Kelly a few days before the dance and told her the story of the bag.

Although my mother was only 18 when she married my dad, she had actually been engaged to another boy at the time she met my dad. My mom's family lived on Long Island, and Johnny was was a rich boy who (I think) went to Williams. The evening bag had been a gift from Johnny. My mom broke off the engagement and married my dad instead, but in those early years my dad was always very sensitive to any mention of Johnny. My mom gave the gold evening bag to her mother for safekeeping.

My mom at about the age she received the evening bag

I might have been about eight years old, and one day a package arrived for my mom from my grandmother. In the box were two evening bags, one of which was the beautiful gold bag. Somehow, even at that age, I knew a bit about the old boyfriend Johnny, and my mother confided in me that the bag had been a gift from Johnny. She told me not to say anything to Dad.

What in the world was I thinking? When my dad came home from work, I went running outside to greet him. "Dad, Dad! Mom got a package with an evening bag, and it was an old present from Johnny!"

After that we lived in Australia for four years, and our life was much more glamorous than it was Laurel, Maryland. My dad was attached to the US Consulate in Melbourne, and my parents went to many big parties, my mom in a long evening gown or cocktail dress and my dad in a tuxedo or white dinner jacket. Mom often carried the little gold evening bag, though my dad didn't really like it and we never mentioned the name of Johnny.

After we returned to the USA, the days of fancy parties and evening clothes came to an end. My mom returned to her life as a suburban housewife, and the gold evening bag stayed in her dresser drawer. Some years later, after I had graduated from college, she gave me the bag. I carried it a couple of times to special parties and dances, but it's been a while since I've gotten really dressed up too. The bag has been sitting in my closet for several years, waiting for its next owner. The bag must be at least 56 years old.

Our Evening Bag

I wasn't sure how Kelly would respond to the bag. She isn't always interested in things I offer to lend her... my taste may be too conventional or from another time. But I told her the story of the bag and talked about how vintage bags are now very popular. Kelly got on the internet and found that yes, they are quite in demand and valuable too. She proudly carried the bag to her first winter semi-formal, though unfortunately I don't have a photo of her with it. I'm sure there will be a next time-- and hopefully future generations too.

Our beautiful daughter headed to her first big dance

The evening bag is a Whiting and Davis bag, very much like this one being sold on E-Bay for $185, just without the little change purse.

Comments (4)

Wow, such a great story. My mother gave me her mother's "vintage" gold bracelet when I got married. And although I have never worn it, other than when she handed it to me, I do appreciate it a lot. And plan to pass it on to my (future) daughter.


Nice - my mother did not live near us when my girls were going to dances, but buried deep in her dresser drawers I found a silver bag that could be the twin of the gold one you describe in your post.


Great story but here's what I want to know--Did she have a date? or go with a bunch of girls??
Inquiring minds...

From Kathy:

Jan, no date-- went with girlfriends. But she wore makeup for the first time, so that's a start. Actually Charley isn't quite prepared to deal with the boy-thing yet.


That's a great story,Kathy. I am glad that Kelly used the bag and will use it again in the future. Hope that she enjoyed her first semi-formal!

From Kathy:

Thanks Sheri. It was really a special evening for her. I don't know how my little daughter has grown up so quickly... seems to have happened all of a sudden.

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