Snap Shot 4: She Wore L’Air du Temps
Describing Aunt Ruthie is a delightful thing to do. She was ultra feminine, fun loving, and a methodical lady. Details were important to her, but not in an uptight stuffy way, if that makes sense. For instance, if you needed to know how long you had to send a couple a wedding gift, she was the one to call, if you were confused about how to properly address an invitation, call Aunt Ruthie. Her ease and elegance remain with me until this very day. She gently served up her classic style through her every action and accessory. My sisters and I are the official caretakers of her keepsakes, including, countless evening bags in assorted colors, some flat, some embroidered, some beaded all with tiny combs and mirrors tucked inside neatly pleated side panels. A pressed powder and lipstick case, the powder still remains, but the orange red matte lipstick long faded. The case smartly converts into a mini bag with a gold handle and mother of pearl exterior. A box of perfectly preserved and embossed set of blank invitation cards, never to be sent.
Each and every Christmas for my entire childhood, the perfect gift always arrived from Aunt Ruthie in a uniformed three, one for each sister, however each item was slightly different to reflect our distinct personalities. One year it was three leather belts, the next year three pairs of gloves, and in each box she placed a penny (for that year) secured to the tissue paper. Specificity and advice was never far away, in the parlor of my grandparents’ apartment, she frankly told the 6 year old me that the dress I was describing was not green, but rather chartreuse. While sitting side by side on the wood living room floor, Aunt Ruthie convinced the 9 year old me that walking while seated is the best way to keep fit and firm. Our arms stretched out in front of us, as we lifted each hip and scooted forward; she was so charming.
She loved Latin words, big band music and dancing. Once she described how her brother, a photographer, he couldn’t resist a ballerina’s wardrobe malfunction that left the dancer perfectly nude, except for her Pointe shoes. He took the photo, she ended the story with her big wide grin and giggle. For years I imagined the Pointe shoes were red not pink, or as she would have said, crimson, not champagne. When I grew up I wanted to wear Aunt Ruthie’s perfume, at the time I believed her fragrance would be a direct passage into womanhood. Its curious richness, part spice part floral permeated my nostrils and her sweaters, coats, scarves and body, my godmother, my mother’s friend, my Aunt Ruthie’s fragrance: Nina Ricci, L’Air du Temps. EDP, (before reformulation, but of course…..