Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Steve/Diana, Tom Macklin, Rory McCready
Genres: Challenge, Romance
Rating (this chapter): G
General Summary: 1961 was a very good year.
Chapter Summary: Diana learns more about the women of 1961 when she and Steve attend a lecture series at the local college.
Date Of Completion: August 17, 2008
Date Of Posting: October 10, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1960
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: This fic was written when I was having a pretty bad time of things in RL, and it relaxed me to write this at a leisurely pace, simply enjoying this little world I’d constructed for Steve and Diana and just being happy while I wrote it.
A scene in Chapter One: Mr. & Mrs. O’Reilly was inspired by the illustration, With You, by min_taiwan.
This story is for the 2008 DCU Fic/Art Endless Summer Challenge and the 2008 Wonder Woman Love Fic/Art Calendar Challenge (July). Prompt: Ocean.
This series is an umbrella title for various DC couples enjoying time by-the-sea. The entire series can be found here.
PILLBOX HATS, TIECLIPS, AND CAPRI PANTS
She is the epitome of American womanhood, a woman of
Taste and grace who is also a wonderful wife and mother.
All girls and women should strive to be like her."
“America’s First Lady”
The Saturday Evening Post
Diana looked at herself in the mirror: light-blue suit with white trim, white high-heeled shoes, gloves and handbag. She had coiffed her wig in a Jackie Kennedy style.
“I really should have a pillbox hat,” she sighed to her reflection.
“Of course, dear.”
Diana saw Steve standing behind her and whirled. He held out a hatbox.
“When did you…”
“While I went to get the newspaper.” He also held out a long, black velvet box.
“Gifts for my beautiful bride.”
Diana opened the velvet box. “Pearls!”
“I thought they would go well with your suit.”
Diana hugged him. “And my pillbox hat?”
Steve nodded. “Here, let me put these on you.” He slipped the pearls around Diana’s neck, kissing her cheek. “I’m sorry they aren’t the Crown Jewels, Princess.”
“My love, these are more precious to me than the riches of Solomon’s mines.”
“Mmm, you sure know how to sweet-talk a guy.”
Diana laughed. She put on her white pillbox hat, Steve admiring the picture she presented.
“How do I look?” he asked.
Diana looked at the dark-blue suit and crisp white shirt, polished black shoes, and narrow dark-blue tie. His hair was slicked down, though Diana knew that wouldn’t last.
“Perfect, my darling.”
“Drat, I can’t find my tieclip. I was sure I packed it.”
Diana opened the nightstand drawer and took out a small white box.
Steve’s eyes widened. “Angel, what…?”
“The woman at the antique store said it is authentic, sold to her father by a member of the JFK circle.”
Steve lifted it out. ”A PT-109 tieclip!”
“Yes, a special token of Jack Kennedy, the boat he commanded in World War II.” She took the clip from Steve and fixed it on his tie. She patted the tie against his chest. “The gold goes well as a color complement.”
“Thank you, Angel.”
“And thank you, my darling.”
They walked to the campus, Diana taking Steve’s arm. She was extremely proud of her escort.
It felt a little strange to be immersed in a world that was clearly sexist, but Steve was her anchor as always.
“I love you.”
Steve looked at her and smiled. “I love you, too.”
Diana felt very happy.
There were three forty-five minute lectures with breaks of ten minutes between each one. The topics were The Cold War Policies Of The Kennedy Administration: Response To The Berlin Wall; The Freedom Riders And Their Impact On The Civil Rights Movement, and Women’s Fashion In 1961: The Jackie Kennedy Influence And The Reflection Of Female Status In America.
Diana listened avidly to the lectures, always eager to soak up new knowledge. She wanted to hear about this strange new world, including its history.
And to learn more about the world that had shaped the man she loved.
Professor Tom Macklin was saying, “Some would say that the response of the West to the Communists building the Berlin Wall in August of ’61 was too tepid. Yes?”
A middle-aged woman had raised her hand. “But what choice did we have? Nuclear weapons change everything, and if you keep them out of the picture, who wants a land war with the Soviets in Europe?”
“Precisely. Easy to play cowboy, but a true leader must weigh all alternatives.”
Diana murmured, “I agree.” Her mother had taught her so much about leadership, diplomacy, and warcraft.
Diana was pleased with the first lecture, and she said to Steve during the break, “Professor Macklin seems quite intuitive.”
“He’s pretty expert on the New Frontier. I think he’ll be graduating to a more prestigious position soon.”
“A pity that this small college will lose him.”
The next lecture was just as interesting. The Freedom Riders of 1961 had consisted of black and white volunteers riding their own buses through the segregated Deep South, encountering violence along the way.
Diana marveled at the courage of these ordinary citizens. Most were college students but older people had been part of the crusade, too.
The rank prejudice of Man’s World never ceased to amaze her, but this lecture showed how far America had come.
The final lecture was also of interest. As she and Steve sipped punch during the intermission between lectures, one of the male attendees said to his friend, “Man, those were the good ol’ days.”
“Yeah. The U.S. kicked ass and women knew their place.”
Steve winced and Diana looked around for the speaker: a young man, not old, and looking quite smug.
Diana waved her hand. “It is of little consequence, my love. There are always those who love to revel in their ignorance.”
Relieved, Steve finished his punch. “Shall we take our seats?”
Each lecture was presented by a different professor. Rory McCready was dressed smartly in a rose-pink suit and high heels. She wore pearls and her auburn hair was styled like Diana’s. Cats-eye glasses with tiny rhinestones sparkled as she moved.
“Well, I see a lot of you ladies came dressed Jackie-style. Excellent. She was a trendsetter in a time when all women were supposed to be concerned with fashion.”
A young woman’s hand went up. “But, Professor, isn’t that still true today?”
Rory nodded. “True, but at least you have the option of not caring today despite social pressure. Back then a girl had to care about fashion in self-defense.”
Lights darkened as slides began to click on-screen. “Jackie Kennedy was a style-setter due to her status as First Lady and her own exquisite taste. She never made a fashion faux pas.” Several slides of Jackie appeared in various outfits. “Her pillbox hat became emblematic of the era. She preferred A-line dresses and enjoyed wearing Capri pants, popularized by the Laura Petrie character on The Dick Van Dyke Show.” A slide of Jackie in a stunning white gown appeared next. She was being escorted by her husband. “Her Inaugural Ball gown was designed by Oleg Cassini, as was this one…” Another stunning gown showed on-screen “…worn by the First Lady on a diplomatic trip to Paris in the spring of ’61. As JFK said, he was the man who escorted her to Paris, President be ignored.”
The audience laughed.
“Professor McCready, wasn’t Jacqueline Kennedy a step back from Eleanor Roosevelt?” asked an elderly gentleman in horn-rimmed glasses.
“If you’re talking social causes, certainly, but the trend of going backwards had started with Bess Truman and Mamie Eisenhower. None of the First Ladies until Betty Ford began to be political activists again.”
“But, Professor, wasn’t Jackie an arts activist?” asked a middle-aged woman in a lavender pillbox hat.
“Of a sort. She was no radical activist, but her sense of the aesthetic and history inspired the renovation of the White House. She found and displayed authentic pieces with real history behind them, beautifying the Mansion after years of neglect in that area. Colonial reproduction for the masses became a long-lasting decoration scheme, and a respect for White House history was a benefit, too.”
“She had no ambitions beyond wife and mother,” said a teenage girl scornfully.
“A lot of women didn’t in those days.” Rory clicked the next slide. “However, the problem was that they had few choices. It saddens me that women are not allowed to choose those traditional roles today without contempt aimed at them. I thought we fought for the right to live our lives as we see fit?”
A picture of Jackie with Caroline and John, Jr. brought smiles to people’s faces. The Kennedys were on the White House lawn, the young children playing and Jackie joining in. She was dressed casually in Capri pants and a sleeveless blouse.
“This image…” the next slide showed the three on the beach at Hyannisport, this time joined by Jack “…and this one symbolized the young postwar family: mother, father, two children, one boy, one girl. Young couples modeled themselves after the Kennedys. The characters of Rob and Laura Petrie, played by Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke, even resembled the First Couple. Jackie was by all accounts a good mother, and mothers across America wanted to emulate her.”
“So she was more than an arbiter of fashion,” said the middle-aged woman.
“Most definitely. Jack may have inspired people politically, but Jackie inspired people, especially women, to be the best they could be. We may find it lacking, but it was quite exciting for the times.”
Diana raised her hand. Rory nodded to acknowledge her.
“Were women organizing for equal rights at all during this time?”
“Women were involved in the civil rights movement, and would later be very involved with the anti-war movement. By the beginning of the 1970s, the revival of the women’s movement had begun.”
Rory clicked a rapid series of slides. “However, while women were denied many rights we take for granted today, they also enjoyed far more rights than women of other cultures, particularly non-Western cultures.
“Interestingly, even with the jokes about ‘women drivers’, who had better records than men, by the way, American women were drivers almost from the beginning, and that gave them unprecedented freedom.” She clicked on another slide. “These women are dressed casually in Capri pants, head scarves more commonly called ‘kerchiefs’, and sunglasses. Women went on vacation together, or would drive and spell husbands and boyfriends on long trips, because it was traditional for the man to drive.
“American men were certainly sexist, but also have had a proclivity for respect of women. Most men liked the idea of women driving. As for women’s fashion, they certainly liked the showing of skin that certain other cultures would have disapproved of. As you can see, the pants showed some leg, and sleeveless blouses were common.”
Diana spoke up. “So casual dress and the act of driving helped women in this country forge ahead for equality?”
“It helped, yes.”
Steve leaned over and whispered, “When we go home, I’ll let you drive as long as you wear those Capri pants.” He laughed as she jabbed an elbow into his ribs.
After the lecture Steve asked, “Would you like to attend the dance at the country club?”
Diana’s eyes lit up. She loved to dance. “Yes!”
“We have to go home to make a change.”
“Yes, this frock is not suitable for dancing.”
Steve grinned at how completely Diana was ‘in character’.
Back at the cottage they changed, Steve swapping his dark-blue suit for a light-blue one, and he wore a fresh white shirt, narrow pearl-gray tie, and the same shoes. He re-combed his hair and carefully affixed his PT 109 tieclip.
Steve looked up and nearly gasped. “Angel, you’re beautiful!”
Diana smiled and twirled, her pleated skirt fanning out, a hint of tulle underneath. Her white dress was sleeveless and strapless, and white elbow-length gloves hid her bracelets. She wore white pumps and her blond hair was still in the Jackie-style. Cecilia Trevor’s ruby brooch glittered and the pearl necklace shone with a delicate luster. Large, round white earrings completed her ensemble.
“Do you think I fit the part of a woman of 1961?”
“Yes, you do.” Steve’s eyes sparkled in appreciation.
Pleased, Diana danced over to Steve and kissed him. “Then let us be off to the dance!”
He smiled as she took his arm.
It promised to be an interesting evening.
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