Goodbye, American Woman

Youth Dew bath powder. That was her scent. It was her trademark.

Before she died we used to tease her about her fragrance powder because all little old ladies wear Youth Dew. She was one such little old lady.

You always knew when her shower had finished because the entire downstairs would smell like that unforgettable Estée Lauder classic. Eau du Granny.

And now that smell is gone forever.

When she died, she took the whole era with her. That’s how it works. When an elderly person passes, we lose a period in history.

We didn’t just lose an old woman. We lost all the American women who dusted themselves with smell-good powder. We lost women old enough to actually remember wearing white gloves to go to the IGA.

We lost all those motherly reminders to sit up straight, not to hunch, and to chew your food exactly thirty-two times before swallowing.

We lost a generation of homemakers who brought deviled eggs to Little League practice, made pretzel salad for Boy Scout meetings, watched Perry Mason on Saturday nights, and kept an ashtrays on the nightstands beside their Bibles.

She was the best of her kind. She was a period in culture. And her bath powder shall be smelled no more.

After all, young women aren’t going to start wearing bath powder. No way. Most young people have never even heard of such antique finery. Not to mention, big perfume companies rarely include fragrance powder products in their lineups anymore. It’s just not hip.

Neither are pearls. She always wore pearls. Women like her wore strings of cultured pearls for attending PTA meetings, or for mopping the kitchen floors. It’s just what they did. So goodbye pearls.

And goodbye, Nat Cole records. Goodbye, era of songs with lyrics written by lyricists who had a basic grasp of the English language. Goodbye, music that wasn’t expressly about sex.

Goodbye, Frank and Dino, singing with eighty-piece back-up bands comprised of legit musicians. Goodbye, tunes you could actually dance to, as opposed to today’s dance music where you’re supposed to dance by yourself as though you’re having a brain seizure.

Goodbye, foxtrot, bossa nova, and waltz. Goodbye, “Fly Me to the Moon” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” “Girl From Ipanema,” and “Moonlight Serenade.”

Farewell, Perry Como, Julie London, Eddie Fisher, Nancy Wilson, Peggy Lee, and singers of yesteryear who didn’t need auto-tuner software to stay on pitch, or thong underwear to get your attention.

So long, neckties and ladies wearing hats to church. And goodbye to sharing hymnals with your siblings on Sunday mornings. Goodbye to Sunday dinner (which was always eaten at lunchtime, but never called lunch).

Hasta la vista to daughters learning to darn socks. Goodbye dresses.

Oh, dresses. We are going to miss you most of all. Once upon a time, ladies wore dresses. And not just for funerals and prom. No. Dresses were everyday items.

Your mom awoke in the mornings, took a shower, bath-powered herself, lit a Camel, and slid on a house dress. This is how it was done.

The American woman of yore had dresses for all occasions. There were day dresses, church dresses, picnic dresses, formal dresses, funeral dresses, yard-work dresses, dresses for wedding receptions, beach dresses, and dresses for changing light bulbs.

There were A-line dresses, shifts, halter dresses, apron dresses, jumper dresses, slips, poufs, wraps, tents, maxis, gowns, shirt dresses, and sundresses.

But wait, I’m not finished.

Strapless dresses, drop waists, trapezes, layered dresses, pencils, bodycons, princess dresses, empires, column dresses, high-lows, jacket dresses, bouffants, polos, peplums, one-shoulders, blousans, tunics, and tea-lengths.

Goodbye, iced tea with little mint sprigs. And we will miss you pimento cheese made in a mixing bowl. We will never forget you chicken divan. Rest in peace, pear salad.

Goodbye to reading the newspaper instead of checking your smartphone. Adios, thank-you notes.

Au revoir, “Guideposts” magazines dating back to the 1950s, covered in dust, kept in Mama’s bathroom reading basket.

Sayonara to kids saying “yes ma’am,” and “no sir,” and “please.” Goodbye, homemade biscuits—now replaced with store-bought tube biscuits that are unfit for feeding to Labradors.

Bye-bye, Emily Post volume on the mantle. So long, sterling saltshakers only used for company. No more finger sandwiches.

Gone is the era when young men opened car doors for women. Farewell to the days when Mama didn’t refrigerate butter, mayo, ketchup, or eggs.

Each time an elderly person dies we lose more than just a person. We lose folkways. We lose another slice of American Regionalism. We lose their melodies, their wardrobes, their accents, and their unique styles of humor.

We lose everything they loved, everything they learned, their accumulated wisdom, and their quiet voices telling us everything is going to be all right.

Truthfully, now that she’s passed away, sometimes I’m afraid we’re losing these wonderful things forever. I’m afraid it’s all gone. But this morning, in the supermarket, I caught the distant scent of bath powder. A smile grew on my face.

And it all came back to me.


  1. Linda Chapman - August 20, 2021 7:32 am

    Ahhhhhh……you really loved and knew your sweet Mother Mary very well….
    I’m nearly 73 and a few years ago my first born daughter, Summer, and a dear friend attended a Neil Diamond concert! He was amazing! His music still rocked and it was AWESOME!! The funny thing is…. the entire audience was compromised of ‘little old ladies!’ There were a few spouses and some younger Baby Boomers like my daughter. I was born in 1948 and she in 1963 – so we are at either end of the baby boomer timeline! The fragrance of Youth Dew was heavy in the air at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas on that April evening! I wore Youth Dew in my youth! Late 20’s through the 40’s. I still wear Este Lauder but it’s now a more modern fragrance like Beautiful and Pleasures…..but I dearly love the smell of Youth Dew and Cinnabar! And I still use scented bath powder! But I’m a pinch, baby powder works too!

  2. Norma Den🇿🇦 - August 20, 2021 8:20 am

    Not only American wisdom. Some scents stay with you forever. Oil of Olay, Evening in Paris (always packed in a tiny shoe shaped bottle), cinnamon dumplings, so many good memories. One bad one, a rum essence dessert Grandma made. Even 70 years later I gag at the smell of rum 🤪🤪🤪. Hasty times, happy memories. May yours never fade.

  3. 🇿🇦 Norma Den - August 20, 2021 8:22 am

    Predictive text🙈. HAPPY times.

    • Karen Snyder - August 20, 2021 3:48 pm

      “Hasty” works, too, Norma (my mom was a Norma) ’cause it has definitely all flown by.

      Thanks for the memories, Sean. Yours are beautiful.🧡

  4. Dean - August 20, 2021 8:38 am

    🙏🙏🙏 for your family

  5. Sandra Smith - August 20, 2021 9:03 am

    This one made me smile. A sad smile of remembrance, a smile of knowing, I know the lady you’re referring too. She’s my Mother. I lost her in 72, and I still have her bottle of Youth Dew.

    • Lisa Ordway - August 20, 2021 11:38 am

      She’s my Mama, too. I lost her in 1986, and her last bottle of Youth Dew is on my dresser❤️

  6. Debbie g - August 20, 2021 10:10 am

    The whole time I was reading your article I was smiling. Because I knew you had Jamie. Who this beautiful mother Mary had raised So keep on enjoying mother Mary through Jamie. Can you imagine some day in far far away future. What will be said about you and Jamie Y’all are writing your life story now. Enjoy every second Love and prayers ❤️🙏

  7. Ann - August 20, 2021 10:30 am

    A number of these are NOT gone, however you really struck a memory chord with all of these beautiful memories . My heart jumped and my eyes poured when you referenced the “ morning shower, dress and lit camel”… that was my Mother!!…once again thank you, Sean. There is so much love in your columns

  8. David Trewolla - August 20, 2021 10:38 am

    Outstanding summary of a wonderful lifestyle that is no longer enjoyed by young people. I consider growing up in the 50s and 60s and also appreciating my grandparents’ lives one of the greatest blessings of my life. I would not trade it for any other era. I don’t know a single person my age who feels differently.

    In the words of Barney Fife, “Keep a good thought.”

  9. Joan Moore - August 20, 2021 10:45 am

    She would be happy to know you y’all will continue to enjoy many of her traditions, please put Nat King Cole on and grab Jamie for a spin on the dance floor until her dress swirls!

  10. Molly Mitchell - August 20, 2021 10:50 am

    Ahhh…yes and yes. To everything except pimento cheese. And happily, Guideposts is still front and center in my guest bathroom. Thank you, Sean. Well done.

  11. Brenda A. Belvin - August 20, 2021 11:22 am

    Jamie’s mama is dancing with the angels now. My heart is with you both as you move forward without her…

  12. Paul McCutchen - August 20, 2021 11:31 am

    We will lose, not only the person, but an era in time that might return but never will be replaced.

  13. Ellouise Pennington - August 20, 2021 11:33 am

    Every time I think I’ve read the very best of Sean, you come up with yet another “best ever!”. You’ve done it again today. In just a few concise paragraphs, you have summed up the changing of the guard – especially of the Southern Lady. Thank you for introducing us to Mother Mary; helping to get to know her over the years and now helping us to let her go

  14. Cyn - August 20, 2021 11:36 am

    So we’ll said. We have truly lost an amazing era.

  15. Annie Sommers - August 20, 2021 11:36 am

    😄😄😄😄😄😄 Loved this. Thinking of Grandma and Mama.

  16. Mary Ann Ludwig - August 20, 2021 11:38 am

    I lost my momma long ago, but she also wore Este’ Lauder’s Youth Dew. Her favorite fragrance, however was Emeraude. I don’t even remember how to spell it, but I remember how it smells. Now, I am the Grandma. Alas, without a fragrance or even bath powder. Showers are quick. Nobody takes in the luxury of a long bath anymore. I can no longer cook and I miss my own cooking. When I am gone, will anyone miss my silly singing? I knew a song for everything and they went back to the “old days”. I took piano lessons and I took ballroom dancing lessons. A young lady did those things when I was one. Life seems so short when the years have passed for so long. Are old photos enough? Will anyone collect actual photographs? I have thousands (it seems) of digital pictures taken with a cell phone. I remember the camera that I took to my 8th Grade Ditch Day. It only had 12 pictures on a single roll of film and I had to be very careful about what I took pictures of. They were so much more precious because of that. The other day, I was sent a photo of myself and my older brother with our Grandmas. One of them was wearing a dress, a hat (a hat!) and pearls. The other was also wearing a dress, but it was less “formal”. I miss dresses. I haven’t worn one is so long. We hold our memories close because they are so dear to us. When I read your columns, I remember. Scorching summer days with tall glasses of iced tea that held a sprig of mint from the planter where the faucet always dripped. Sudden thunder storms. Playing cards late into the night and Saturday afternoon trips to the local movie theater. All those things that are gone forever. Times change, but it seems that people do not. It’s the memories. You understand that so well, Sean. Keep them near and bring them out frequently. They are the treasures that belong to us as nothing else does. Thanks for the memories. Can you hear the melody? I’m singing it as I remember.

    • Joann Thompson - August 20, 2021 11:51 pm

      Lovely memories. I’m tearing up, now.

  17. Cindy - August 20, 2021 11:48 am

    Good one Sean!

  18. Veanne Watkins - August 20, 2021 11:50 am

    I still have my mama’s Youth Dew box of powder and use it every day….God bless the mamas…

  19. Janet W. - August 20, 2021 11:58 am


  20. Lisa Ordway - August 20, 2021 11:58 am

    Thank you so much for this sweet reminder of both my Mama and my Grannie! I’m going to print this one out and save it to read when I need a hug. As I was reading your words, I was thinking that many of these time honored traditions are not gone! I wear pearls, and dresses more times than pants! And I make deviled eggs and pimento cheese, but my biscuits are lacking (so we’re Mama and Grannies)! My son opens doors door ladies, and both of my kids write a lovely thank-you note! My precious Aunt, who died at 96 just two years ago, gave me Private Collection by Estée Lauder bath powder for Christmas for many years. I still have some, tho I don’t often wear it. I think I’ll start again, especially in our hot southern summers! So I was thinking, no Sean, so many of these traditions survive! And then I got tickled. I still think of myself as the younger generation, but in reality, I’m 63, and the tail end of the generation you write about! I’m going to make a more concentrated effort to teach my kids to continue many of these traditions. I thank you for the lovely memories! I’m about to run outside in my morning dress to pick some mint for the iced tea❤️

  21. Jan - August 20, 2021 12:02 pm

    Wonderful memories of days gone by … “thanks for the memories”

  22. Karen Zappavigna Hoogland - August 20, 2021 12:05 pm

    Beautiful tribute!

  23. Donna Moore - August 20, 2021 12:14 pm

    This is lovely. It made me tear up, but also made me smile. Thank you.
    PS I still wear my Ester Lauder, but now it’s “Beautiful”.

  24. JIMMY STEWART - August 20, 2021 12:14 pm

    My mom, 87, widowed one week Tuesday, has repeatedly lamented the recent changes to her Guidepost. Sean, you bless us every day with constant reminders of all that is good, so much of which is going away. Thank you for making sure that what has been and still is “good” is documented for our daily reading pleasure and future generations. You are a treasure; your mind, your writing and your big ole heart! Don’t stop, don’t ever stop!

  25. Karen John - August 20, 2021 12:21 pm

    Today I’m going to wear a dress and put on the youth dew my grandmother gave me. (It’s been in its bottle now for 25 years.) My grandmother would shush me when I was sad, and hug me, all the time smelling heavenly.

  26. carolanne78 - August 20, 2021 12:31 pm

    Well, I bought some Youth Dew bath oil in memory of Mother Mary, because the powder would be all over my bathroom ; ) And please don’t say goodbye, it’s really until we meet again xo

  27. Kathy - August 20, 2021 12:33 pm

    Yes, some of those things are still around. Breathe deeply and open your eyes.

  28. Karri Misky - August 20, 2021 12:44 pm

    Our moms would have been great friends. She wore Youth Dew powder. I put some on her while she was dying hoping that she would smell it and knew I was there. I put the powder in my drawer so I would get a whiff of mom everyday. I love you and Jamie and am keeping you in my prayers.

  29. Gayle - August 20, 2021 12:47 pm

    I am 82 years old so you talk about me and I remember my Mom I smiled reading the entire article. God bless Mother Mary your family and a passing generation.

  30. Jane Hicks - August 20, 2021 12:49 pm

    Great article! Your next book needs to be about Mother Mary ! You had a great relationship with your second Mom!
    Prayers for you & your family.

  31. susanrennianderson - August 20, 2021 12:49 pm

    We didn’t lose those things. They will live in the hearts and minds as beautiful, warm, loving memories. Remember always, Sean. Susie

  32. Lucy - August 20, 2021 12:53 pm

    I have all those songs on my playlist. And on records. Because that’s what I grew up with too.

  33. Steve Scott - August 20, 2021 12:54 pm

    You have the unique ability to magically draw people into the times and places your are describing. What a wonderful writer you are. I look forward to your column every morning and feel blessed to know you and Jamie.

  34. Sandra Clements - August 20, 2021 12:55 pm

    My mom’s powder was Avon Here’s My Heart. She bought it in these tins that she poured into a bisque powder bowl with a crystal top with a filigree silver handle. When she bought new powder puffs, she’d give us the old ones and also the empty tins to play dress up or keep in our Barbie cases to make the doll clothes smell good.

  35. Molly - August 20, 2021 12:56 pm

    Love the “and it all came back to me”. That’s all it takes. A sound, a picture, a voice or a smell and it all comes flooding back. The sweet memories! It has been 21 years for me, and my mother’s memory still comes back with a sound, a picture, a voice or a smell! Love it when it happens! A smile comes across my face too! Prayers for you and Jamie and family. ❤️

  36. Nancy Crews - August 20, 2021 1:06 pm

    ❤your writing.

  37. Nan Williams - August 20, 2021 1:13 pm

    Thank you – once again,
    from Someone just a year or two younger than Mother Mary.

  38. Bernadette Wyckoff - August 20, 2021 1:23 pm

    Those were the good old days. I still see glimpses of them where I work….small town Mama Bears Bakery. Younger women wearing dresses, and little girls pretending to be ballerina while her mom picked the perfect cupcake to praise her for saying yes mam. The men mostly are gentlemen here and the boys actually have learned from them or Mom how to hold a door open while saying ladies first. Not all is lost….may not smell a ladies dusting powder but the aroma of fresh baked sugar cookies comes real close. Please keep the faith and the memories….sharing helps us all to know there is still hope Please come visit….you’ll know you are in the right place when you open the door and say wow it smells so good in here. I say glad you stopped by for a visit and a cookie Sean….we love you!!!

  39. Melanie - August 20, 2021 1:24 pm

    And so it begins…tiny signs that she is with you always. ❤️

  40. Monique - August 20, 2021 1:33 pm

    Love this! I smiled while reading it. I remember white gloves, handbags that snapped shut at the top with two little gold balls, tea sandwiches, and congealed salad served as a side, not as a dessert. I recently gave a bridal shower, another southern lady event that is fading, and commented that it was nice that the bride and groom were both from the south because navigating marriage is tricky enough, having to explain your southern roots is a whole other ball game. It is woven into our fabric. It has an unspoken language that we don’t even realize exist until someone points it out. Good ice tea still lives on, not to worry! As for biscuits, I never fell prey to canned biscuits but you really should try Mary B’s Biscuits from the freezer section. I stopped making homemade as often after I found them.
    Love this piece today! I’m still smiling remembering all the wonderful things of days gone by. What a blessing to have had such a lovely lady as part of your life. I am sure your Jamie has many of Mother Mary’s ways and talents.

  41. Jane Crawford - August 20, 2021 1:46 pm

    You are making me cry this morning. Thanks for your wonderful way of telling a story.

  42. Ruth Mitchell - August 20, 2021 1:51 pm

    Who knew your generation even noticed? Thank you for reminding my generation (age 76) that we have/had good taste after all! I loved identifying with the lists from your mother-in-law’s history. I hope my own descendants will acknowledge my existence as well as you have your precious mother-in-law’s.

  43. Nancy Carnahan - August 20, 2021 1:56 pm

    Lil’ ol’ Alabama me taught my kids to say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no ma’am’. One California teacher told them she wasn’t that old. Heathen! My son was teaching his daughter the same thing. He said, “You say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no ma’am.’ Do you hear me?” She looked at him with those big blue eyes and said, “uh huh.”
    And my husband opens car doors for me.
    I’m so sorry for your loss, but so happy you had her.

    • wfsuga - August 20, 2021 4:45 pm

      I’m also from Alabama and my sons were always taught to say “yes sir” and “no ma’am” along with other indicia of good upbringing. Once when they were much younger my wife and I were on a trip to northern Michigan. After stopping for supper at an eatery in Jackson, Michigan the waitress came over to our table and said “You guys are from the South, aren’t you?” I replied proudly that we were and stated that our accents must have given us away. She replied “No, it’s just that your children have manners. We can always tell Southerners by the way their children behave. The kids up here are brats.”

  44. louhoover - August 20, 2021 1:58 pm

    I am very sorry for your family’s great loss.

    I quit reading after the comment on Pearls. Google united by pearls.

  45. mim - August 20, 2021 2:19 pm

    Ah yes, we granddaughters all loved to smell inside Grandma’s used up powder containers now holding safety pin collections and random small things like screws or sewing machine parts. And now we keep her powder tins tucked away in our dressers. And by the way, we still like to wear dresses.

  46. Kathleen Casteel - August 20, 2021 2:20 pm

    I am so very sorry for your loss. You were both blessed to have known each other in this life. May you have many, many more of those supermarket moments. It is her saying, “it well be alright”.

  47. Joe Patterson - August 20, 2021 2:26 pm

    Thanks for sharing one of your best

  48. Nancy - August 20, 2021 2:26 pm

    Doors are still opened for women around here and lots of kids still say yes ma’am and yes sir. Pimento cheese is made in mixing bowls by some hardy souls. It’s not all gone because those women taught us well and we passed along a lot of those lessons. Now the dress thing. Have you ever tried gardening or mopping in a dress — strapless or otherwise— maybe losing some things isn’t all bad.

  49. Suellen - August 20, 2021 2:26 pm

    Coincidentally, I took pretzel salad to bible study yesterday. After bible study I took my husband to a local institution for lunch. It’s kind of hidden and most of today’s crowd probably doesn’t even know it’s there. I don’t know how long it has been around but the decor probably hasn’t changed since the 60’s. It has a steam table and cheap burgers and a bar for those who like to drink their lunch and it was full of smoke and rough working men catching lunch. We paid less than it would cost to go to McDonald’s. It took me back many years and I found myself, once again, thinking of my grandparents and wondering if they went there in times gone by. I miss those times and all the people I shared it with so much.

  50. nebraskannie - August 20, 2021 2:29 pm

    I appreciate your thinking, but I have to tell you, I still wear dresses, for every occasion, still take deviled eggs to pot lucks, still listen to smoke gets in your eyes, my husband wears ties for special occasions, we don’t put eggs and butter in the fridge. Yes, lots of things are gone, but when I sit at the table preparing food from my garden for canning, I think of learning these things at my grandmothers knee and know that SOME things DO get passed on. I hope the most important thing, loving and caring for each other…

    • Joann Thompson - August 21, 2021 12:21 am

      True for you and for me, but I’m afraid the garden and canning will be over in my family when I die.

  51. Kay Newton - August 20, 2021 2:37 pm

    Thank you , Sean, for so often putting my heart into words. God bless you and Jamie as you travel this road . Remember it isn’t good bye but “until we meet again”🙏🏻❤️

  52. JonDragonfly - August 20, 2021 2:45 pm

    It wasn’t the white hair that told me I’m getting old. It was when teenage girls started opening doors for me.
    It also told me that manners are not lost in The South.
    Bless them… and their mamas for bringing them up right.

  53. Patricia Gibson - August 20, 2021 2:47 pm

    A great period in history and I miss those days as well, but I am old enough to have lived them and am very blessed ❤️

  54. Mike Johnston - August 20, 2021 2:50 pm

    One of your best yet. Thanks for the smile this morning

  55. Ed Peacher Jr - August 20, 2021 2:51 pm

    As someone that is a “newcomer” to your articles Sean – as much as I TRULY ENJOY reading your articles – I also ENJOY reading the “insights and glimpses” of LIFE as presented by your readers. Yeah, pimento cheese was NOT something that I got along with. (Grin) I’m 69 – and I raised my now adult kiddos to do those things that the younger generations obviously weren’t instructed in. Still, one can still live with HOPE, something which your DELIGHTFUL articles provide us with. ABUNDANT BLESSINGS to You and Jamie!

  56. Mary Jane (MJ) Bruess - August 20, 2021 2:58 pm

    Keep the Emily Post. Pass it on!!!

  57. Jody - August 20, 2021 3:12 pm

    Reminders of life as we lived it is a welcome gift. Thank you for your caring remembering.

  58. Helen - August 20, 2021 3:12 pm

    I thought of my grandmother reading this. Hugs to you and Jamie. ❤️👗🙏🏻

  59. Cecelia P LeBlanc - August 20, 2021 3:14 pm

    Lovely tribute to Mother Mary and to all of her generation.

  60. Christina - August 20, 2021 3:28 pm

    These precious memories will never be forgotten.

  61. charlynecox - August 20, 2021 3:45 pm

    This is a touching tribute to your dear mother-in-law. I pray we don’t lose all the good things with her! Bring back classy.

  62. Venetia Redd - August 20, 2021 3:52 pm

    I’m so glad I read this column to the end. With each sad
    “au revoir”, I was becoming uneasy. I agree that these aromas, melodies, and flavors are fading away, but for some of us out here they are not gone yet.
    I have a few of Aunt Bertha’s Avon cologne bottles and Grandma Ernestine’s round plastic powder box (fluffy puff still inside).
    Occasionally, I will open these and with eyes closed, return to childhood. It’s a wonderful visit.
    I wish I could play hymns like my Grandma Louise did, but the hymnals remain on the piano just in case anyone wants to give it a try when no one is within listening distance.
    Anyway, all this to say, so many of us yearn for the simple times when our worries were uncomplicated and life was sweet. I wish I could go back. Instead, I will have to pay a little visit to my perfume bottle collection, right after I put on my pearls!

  63. sandra - August 20, 2021 4:06 pm

    Sean we’re still here! I’m from the last of that age except for music. I’m born in the ‘50s and a youth of the ‘60s! Instead of Youth Dew I use Beautiful and it does have powder or it did last I bought it. Baby powder works too. Maybe not as precious as Mother Mary, but there are some of us who still have good Southern lady raising. Except for dresses. Lordamercy I’m never wearing a dress again. Thanks women’s lib for bringing pants to the ladies. My thoughts are with you and the family of Mother Mary. She’s good. She’s all right.

  64. Linda - August 20, 2021 4:18 pm


  65. Lynn Carol Owen - August 20, 2021 4:38 pm

    I see my whole childhood and young adulthood in this story. And, sad to say, yes, it’s gone bye-bye…..

  66. Maggie Priestaf - August 20, 2021 4:38 pm

    My sons (48 & 50) have their great-grandma’s biscuit recipe. They get it out and give it a go once or twice a year. So glad. As Peggy Lee once sang, “Is that all there is?”

  67. Mary Coley - August 20, 2021 4:47 pm

    So very sorry for the loss of this wonderful woman. God bless your wife and God bless you.

  68. Vicki Tuch - August 20, 2021 5:04 pm

    Such beautiful sweet memories you evoke in me, Sean! My small town upbringing echoed those memories you write about with such clarity, love, and awe! We will keep them alive just as we keep memories of beautiful people like ‘Mother Mary’ alive!
    You and your wife are in my prayers!

  69. Linda Moon - August 20, 2021 5:22 pm

    I had to leave the room and return later to comment because of the title and two words: “Youth Dew”. Tiny droplets of water formed in my eyes and obscured my reading vision. Now, I’ve returned and can write that my mother was one such little old lady, too. Memories come back in smells and pictures and just about anything that remind us of Mamas and Daddies. Many years after his death, my daddy came back to me in the form of a text from his grandson he never met: “Schnicklefritz”. It was from a movie they both loved: “Stalag 17”. And it had been Daddy’s nickname for me when I was a kid. All these years later, when I see my son or watch Stalag 17 I see my daddy. Look for your mother, Jamie. You’ll find her in unexpected ways.

  70. Susie, as well - August 20, 2021 5:34 pm

    This reminds me of when I decided I was getting old, when younger people started putting “Miss” in front of my name when addressing me. Or lots of younger people offering to help me in Wal Mart when I think I obviously don’t really need help. I always thank them nicely though. But about the tube biscuits, I agree with Monique, Mary B’s frozen biscuits are pretty darn close to home made, if not better.

  71. SW - August 20, 2021 5:50 pm

    You just described my life…the hats, gloves, music, etc. Got my first etiquette book around age 10 ( as if my mother weren’t a living one) and gave my grandchildren each one even earlier. And, yes, they do write thank-you notes and my children do as well. Still play the old records occasionally and play the old traditional hymns (which you rarely hear in church) on the piano now and then. BTW, I received 4 or 5 strings of pearls for high school graduation! That speaks volumes about that era.
    Keep Mary alive with your stories…they are the stories of many of us and we love that you noticed and reminded us so eloquently. God bless you and Jamie as you continue to honor Mary with your memories. She would be so proud. All of us would love to be remembered so lovingly. 🙏

  72. Bill - August 20, 2021 6:34 pm


    Well said. Each of us has a history….to learn from , but that’s our problem. You, me, the whole world. If we would read our histories, we might not make the same mistake we are making today…and not all the past is bad…is it?

  73. Rebecca Souders - August 20, 2021 6:54 pm

    Those items are not lost as long as folks like you and me keep talking and writing about them! Your work will live a long time, Sean, and so will the memories of Mother Mary…. and well they should.
    Thanks again for all your fine words.

  74. MAM - August 20, 2021 7:04 pm

    Although I am not the cook in the household because my husband is an EXCELLENT cook, I’m the one who makes the homemade biscuits, and I’ll make a peach crisp out of the last peaches off our tree later today. I was taught by my Mom, who has been gone for 16 years, to make jellies and jams. But then, I’m of the older generation!

  75. Charlotte Laughter - August 20, 2021 7:24 pm

    I am from the south. Born and bred. I remember all these things and more. Pawpaw bringing a case of cokes home in a wooden, yellow case. Going to a farm to pick up real butter and buttermilk. I would get up early to see our milkman, Delbert, bring our milk to the front porch. No washer/dryer here. Dirty laundry went out weekly and came back neatly folded,wrapped in brown paper, tried with string. My grandmother always used bath powder and Jerergins hand lotion. We always got a King Lions peppermint stick before bed.

  76. Lou - August 20, 2021 7:26 pm

    Moma’s favorite was lilac dusting powder. She loved dresses but slacks were more modest in the wheelchair. You bring back so many memories. Again- so sorry for your loss.

  77. Kathy Sloan - August 20, 2021 7:31 pm

    Loved every word of this piece. My eyes even leaked a little.

  78. Margaret Spencer - August 20, 2021 7:34 pm

    Now THIS makes me sad. I have been losing these pieces over the years, but I will continue wearing pearls (as will several of my ‘pearl girl’ Friends of the South).

  79. Kathy - August 20, 2021 7:42 pm

    Love this. So many truths here. So many memories of my mom and my grandmother.

  80. Heidi - August 20, 2021 7:43 pm

    You described my Mother (deceased) and my Aunts (also deceased) to a T. Oh how I miss all of those very special details of them. Thank you for bringing back beautiful memories.❤️

  81. Edna H. Isdell - August 20, 2021 8:20 pm

    Thank you for this remembrance of your Mother-In-Law. So true that we are losing all this history and children now-a-days could care less. It is so sad.
    Prayers for you and your family.

  82. Cheri Johnston - August 20, 2021 9:54 pm

    I still wear pearls, dress for church ⛪, you forgot Tommy Dorsy, & the EVER PRESENT bacon fat on the stove, because your green beans need to be flavored!!

  83. Bill Harris - August 20, 2021 11:51 pm

    You mentioned my favorite singers and some of my favorite songs. I make biscuits from scratch and say yes ma’am and no sir. You’ve reminded me that I’m old. Thank you Sean. 😉

  84. Cheryl Durbin - August 21, 2021 12:47 am

    The sweetest of memories. I too remember those sights and smells……from my Mama, my Granny, and my Mamaw. They bring a smile to my lips and a tear to my eye.

  85. Kathy Stribling - August 21, 2021 3:50 am

    My Mom died in February of 2020. I have her Estée Lauder White Linen bath powder in my bathroom cabinet. I open it and smell it often. Some times I put a little on, just to be able to smell her again…♥️

  86. Farrell - August 21, 2021 3:57 am

    Although I didn’t have the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Mother Mary I feel that I know much of her through your stories so my condolences to you and your wife. Prayers for you in this time of loss.

  87. Janice D - Silverhill - August 21, 2021 5:05 am

    Jamie was raised by Mother Mary. You will still see little reminders in your beautiful wife that will bring you back to MM. I’ve taught my daughter & now my 14 year old Granddaughter the meaning of being a true Southern lady. I’ve heard if you wait long enough, fashion will come back. I anxiously await the return of gloves. They were stylish into my teen years & then disappeared. Please keep telling us MM stories because it’s healing for you & Jamie but it takes us older folks back to memories long forgotten.

  88. Marilyn - August 21, 2021 2:40 pm

    My mother was an athlete, an educator, and a coach, so this was never my reality. It’s much too classist, patriarchal, and white for me and my sense of equality; those overpowering scents nauseated me.

    So I’m happy that the life and smells of these women caught in the homemaker stereotype and role are disappearing. Just because they make women feel nostalgic for their youth doesn’t mean they were actually good for women and society as a whole. These women couldn’t even have a credit card in their own name, and their choices of occupation other than “homemaker” were incredibly limited. We still haven’t managed to get equal pay. This romantized view of the “little woman” is partly responsible. Sigh.

    • Suzi - August 21, 2021 7:51 pm

      Thank you for a step back in time and sharing Mother Mary❤️
      I wonder what memories the children and grand children will have of the modern day moms?

  89. Chasity Davis Ritter - August 21, 2021 3:20 pm

    I hope those little reminders of Mother Mary on the breeze weather it be a scent or a sound always makes you smile. Reminders of my dad make me smile as well even if my eyes tend to still leak while it’s happening.

  90. Anita Denney - August 21, 2021 3:31 pm

    Best article “ever” !! Now that I’m living in the “later years” (86) I just relived my growing up years and enjoyed every memory. Try to find a dress these days that we Senior Ladies can wear that “covers” all our flaws!! Which now are Many🙄!!

  91. DAVID A WILSON - August 21, 2021 3:56 pm

    AGAIN, as always, your writing is GREAT, memorable and thought provoking; THANKS!!!

  92. Peggy ALEXANDER - August 21, 2021 10:04 pm

    This is your best one yet. Brings back sooo many memories and we older people love ❤️ our memories 😊My mom and aunts wore Cody.Emeraude was a favorite. I AM an AVON LADY. Have sold 32 years. It is hard now with Co VID

  93. Gayle Wilson - August 22, 2021 7:09 pm

    Sean, every time you write about youth dew powder a picture and scent plays in my mind standing in my little Granny’s bathroom while she powdered with Youth Dew and there was always a little puff for me. Wonderful memories.

  94. gypsy829 - August 22, 2021 8:28 pm

    You & your family are are in my thoughts and prayers. You are a talented writer & I hope you continue to capture, in your writing what a lot of us think & fee everyday. I lost both of my parents less than a month apart, 10 years ago. There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t think of them, which is how it should be with those who have planted a part of themselves into your heart. ❤️🙏

  95. Gordon - August 23, 2021 5:20 pm

    Beautiful, truthful words. Thanks for the memories. I’ll turn 70 tomorrow and notice with every new year that our world says goodbye to so many of my 70 years of lifetime memories.

  96. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - August 23, 2021 7:49 pm

  97. Pam - August 29, 2021 8:22 pm

    My grandma passed in 1999 and my aunt just passed at age 91. While cleaning out my aunt’s house, I came across my grandma’s Wind Song perfume. I remember taking her and her friend to the grocery store (back in the 80s). I had to wait for them to change from their perfectly good housedresses into their going-to-Winn-Dixie dresses. To my recollection people went there in holey sweatpants and such. Apparently there was a dress code known only to elderly ladies.

  98. Josephine - September 23, 2021 4:09 pm

    He is the best!

  99. Bill E. - December 4, 2022 11:15 pm

    You know, Sean, I understand totally what you are saying. It’s not a great feeling because now it affects me and the way i feel about things that are in, or were a part of me. I try not to let it get to me. But it does and that is something I must learn to deal with.


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