Carolyn White: Living the Good Life 6-4-12
Over the weekend of April 14, my friend Annette and I drove to Leadville, Colo., to attend the 100th Commemorative of the Sinking of the Titanic, as sponsored by the Leadville Assembly.
Upon learning that participants were being encouraged to wear Edwardian costumes for the scheduled events, we spent six weeks very carefully putting together special wardrobes. For me, this included my mother’s elbow-length gloves and faux pearls; a floor-length black skirt borrowed from pal Linda; some lace-up boots purchased out of a catalog; a short, gray wool cape found in a second-hand store; a gorgeous, two-tiered, full-length version – complete with matching bonnet – that childhood riding buddy, Leigh, had once worn in a choir (she also donated a lace-front, high-collar, button-up-the-back blouse); an assortment of dangle-type earrings; and a dainty, embroidered purse that I’d swiped out of my sister’s dresser around 1972, shortly after she’d left for college. After unsuccessfully trying to stuff everything into a single large suitcase, however, I started to understand why women who lived a century ago travelled with trunks: along with the rest of my clothing, coats, nightwear and other essentials, it took two large pieces of luggage, plus one medium-sized bag, to contain so many goodies.
Annette didn’t travel lightly, either. Her car was already loaded down with belongings when she pulled into the driveway, which included a magnificent straw hat that she’d decorated with ribbons and a ton of artificial flowers. “I brought the glue gun in case we needed it,” she informed me with a giggle.
“One thing’s for certain, if either of us forgot something the other is bound to have packed it,” I remarked as we buckled our seatbelts – and it was true. While dressing that evening, Annette discovered that she needed both an iron and a hat pin. I had them. In turn, she shared the bracelets and tiara that set off my own costume. The bulk and unfamiliarity of our extra clothing, however, caused more than a few awkward moments.
For starters, Annette’s hat was so enormous that she couldn’t fit in the car with it on and ended up driving with her head tilted sideways. “We need a real carriage with a high ceiling,” she complained.
“And some footmen,” I agreed, struggling with the endless yards of cloak material that was bunched up on my lap. A butler or two would have come in handy, also, as we were picking our ways up the stairs to the restaurant. She nearly slipped on some ice (it snowed quite a bit that weekend) whereas I kept catching my heels on the skirt hem and had to start holding it up wherever I walked. As for trying to eat while wearing gloves and elaborate dinner rings – using a linen napkin as opposed to a paper one – I got red lipstick on everything. And Annette, stiff as a board in a reproduction corset, could barely eat at all! Still, it was fun to admire the other outfits and visit with the people who’d taken the extra time to dress up: we saw everything from frilly white aprons and caps to black top hats and tails to a Scottish-style plaid dress. For one, glorious evening, a group of us got the chance to travel back in time … and I’ll bet that there was a noticeable trail of feathers left behind wherever we went.
Much to our delight, the couple who’d been assigned to our table, John and Donna Cornella, invited us to spend an extra night at their own home, the Ores & Mine Bed & Breakfast. It took quite a bit of juggling to get so much stuff reorganized (and in the process, I ended up stepping on the hatpin that Annette had lost in the hotel room carpet) but the drive to Twin Lakes, along with the hassle of unloading the car yet again and then dragging our junk down a flight of stairs, was most definitely worth it. That evening, however, as we sat in our luxurious suite surrounded by antiques, oil lamps and old mining equipment my friend started to worry a little while watching the snow coming down outside the huge picture windows. “You know, we’re well over 10,000-feet in elevation here,” she pointed out. “We might end up getting stranded.”
Looking out over the Twin Lakes Reservoir with a stunning view of Mount Elbert in the background; thinking back to the absolutely delightful two days that we’d just spent in Leadville; and knowing that I could always keep working over a laptop computer in the case of a weather-related plan change, I smiled slowly. “No problem.” Pointing over my shoulder at our belongings, which were once again spread out across the rooms, I reminded her saying, “We have more than enough to wear.”