Christmas

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Written on back: Nancy Henderson, Spring 1947 E.K. S.T.C. (Eastern Kentucky State Teachers College). from a bag of photographs purchased in Springfield “Heart of Ohio Antique Mall”in 2015, random photographs torn from scrap albums.

There’s nothing “resistant” about Nancy’s outfit, until you set her in the context of her time period. Spring 1947 puts Nancy Henderson right on the brink of the post-war boom, which has yet to get into full swing. In 1947 the US economy actually experienced a dip compared to the height of the war in 1944. Optimism reigned, of course, but the post-war boom was not so much a boom with a sharp incline as a jagged thread slowly inching its way up.

Her college life at Eastern Kentucky was a mixture of social occasions (she shows up in the student newspaper, The Hilltoppers) and academic preparation for working as a teacher. The Teachers College dated from 1922, when the college became a “Normal School” whose purpose was to train educators (école normales were a French approach to create model schools with model methods, teach others, and spread the good educational word). Around the country Normal Schools were set up around the turn of the century. Simultaneously most universities broke down and started admitting female students, and women were funneled into the normal schools (later schools of education). Many a brilliant chemist was hiding out in her dress and low-heeled shoes in a chem lab at the Normal School.

By far the most popular style for female students in this era was a skirt that hit just below the knee, a sweater or blouse, white ankle socks, and penny loafers. Nancy’s knit sweater with its two dancing reindeer hits the mark, even in spring of 1947. Her dark-painted nails provide a hint of the glamour girl lurking. Nancy had her whole adult life before her — a cursory glance at ancestry.com doesn’t tell me who Nancy was, which of the several Kentucky and Ohio/Dayton area “nancy hendersons” she might have been, but she looks in her photograph well on her way, confident, a bit reserved, charming…

Her sweater was one of hundreds of designs of novelty knit sweaters. I can’t locate her exact design: Woolrich had several designs with trees, other wool companies put out their own versions, and there were knitting patterns galore. Nancy’s is especially refined, with nicely detailed reindeer and trees.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.

 

 

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