To my grandsons,
...Women and girls, in that day, didn’t loiter along the street – even little girls. If you had business at the stores, you transacted it speedily and left. If an errand led you along Main Street, you went decorously past all public institutions, -- even including Lyde Peters’s notion store, where news was dispensed as well as necessities, -- your eyes frozen to the path your feet must follow.
We hung back. In our most curious moments we had never dreamed of entering the barbershop. Women never went into the barbershop. It was a rendezvous for men – sacred to their masculine needs.
My mother drew back, shocked, startled, dismayed, mingled fear and disgust on her face.
“Hush!” she said sharply. “Can’t you see Delly’s here?”
Clara looked at me, surprised, evidently quite unaware of my presence up to now.
“Well,” she said, rather sullenly, “she’ll hear of it.”
About the middle of March, a postcard came from Gaby to Adelaide, addressed from Chicago, Lyde Peters [the postmistress] read it first and went out on the street and told every man in sight. Nell [Lyde’s daughter] threw a shawl over her head and ran to the drugstore to tell Ed Calkins. Ed said if Nell would go over and get Freda to come and tend the store he’d take the card right out to Adelaide. And by the time Adelaide had got her card the whole town knew its contents by heart.
Then, “That’s Miz’ Babcock’s,” we would say as the house on the corner mellowed with light. “There’s Adelaide’s” -- happily, as if a distant hand had waved a greeting.
Nobody had died except old folks and nobody had got married unless maybe one or two couples that had just got married and nothing to it. There hadn’t even been any special visitors to anybody’s house for a long time. The town had just run along like any country town and then all of a sudden everything happened at once.
... in their tight-fitting basques with many buttons, their full long skirts protected by full white aprons, their high-topped shoes, their ruches, brooches, breast pins, and thin old-fashioned wedding rings ...