Pyorrhea and Toothpaste Ads

From an ad for Forhan’s toothpaste, September 1931.

Afraid to smile because of Pyorrhea!

“Four out of five” would be victims of Pyorrhea, warned Forhan’s toothpaste ads. This one is from 1925.

I’m still reading magazines from the 1920s and 1930s. Every time I see a toothpaste ad about Pyorrhea, I think of a story  Ruth Gordon told. She attended a charity gala where the Great Houdini was entertaining the guests. Houdini used to do a magic act where he would “catch a bullet in his teeth.” Before performing the stunt, he would always ask for a volunteer from the audience to come up and look in his mouth, to prove the bullet wasn’t concealed there.
Performing at the charity ball,  Houdini called for a volunteer. A man came up from the audience. When Houdini opened his mouth and asked, “What do you see?” the man said:
“Py-o-rrhea!”
Poor Houdini: With a hundred celebrity guests to choose from, Houdini had selected Groucho Marx to inspect his teeth!

Forham’s ad, warning about pyorrhea. April 1927.

Forhan’s’s toothpaste ad, May 1928.

Just as Listerine ads frightened women into using mouthwash, …

An example of the famous Listerine ad campaign blaming”Halitosis” for unpopularity. This one is from June 1930.

… the discovery that tooth loss was often caused by gum disease, rather than cavities, led to advertisements warning about “pink toothbrush” and pyorrhea.

Forhan’s ad, May 1928.

Top of Forhan’s’s ad, March 1935.

“Pyorrhea is a relentless foe. It destroys clean, healthy-looking teeth. It undermines the gums. It is responsible for more than half the losses of adult teeth in this country.”

Two women wait to see the dentist. 1928 ad.

The good news was that pyorrhea need not cause tooth loss.

Tooth powder ad, April 1925. (My uncle Mel still preferred tooth powder in a can to toothpaste in a tube in the 1950s.)

Forhan’s toothpaste in a tube, May 1928.

A woman in a striking cloche hat gets dental advice in this Forhan’s ad, December 1926.

Forhan’s toothpaste ad, March 1927.

Brush, floss, see your dentist twice a year, and keep smiling!

P.S. I once accidentally ruined a dinner party game: The hostess asked each guest to choose a time period when they would have liked to live, and to say why. I was No. 3, and blurted out the truth: “I’m 65 years old and I still have all my own teeth; I really love hot running water and flush toilets, so I am happy to be alive now!” Loving to read Jane Austen doesn’t mean I want to live like her. (Yes, I do have personal experience with outhouses and no electricity….) And there’s a good reason (in addition to the length of exposure time) why women are usually not smiling in 19th century photos.

 

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Filed under 1920s-1930s, Hairstyles, Hats and Millinery, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

Amphora Skirts, 1914

“The New Amphora Skirts Introduced by Paquin,” Delineator, May 1914.

“The New Amphora Skirts Introduced by Paquin” were fashion news in the summer of 1914. I didn’t understand, at first, because when I saw the word “amphora,” I first thought of the plain wine or oil jars that had pointed bottoms; many, many simple amphorae like these have been recovered by archeologists, especially from wrecked ships.

Amphora, terracotta; Greece, circa 3rd century BC. Image courtesy of Metropolitan Museum.

However, a Greek amphora (“jar”) can be highly decorated and have a base that flares out at the bottom:

Attic wine jar, circa 500 BC. Image courtesy Metropolitan Museum.

The “peg-top” skirts of 1914 — which get tighter at the bottom — accidentally resemble the plain, everyday jar, but were not called “Amphora skirts.”

Peg-top skirts (shaped like a child’s spinning top) narrow at the bottom, like this amphora. No wonder I was confused!

But the  “Greek-vase”  amphora skirt style “introduced by Paquin” resembles the more elaborate Greek wine vessel.

This is the type of amphora Paquin had in mind. Like the Greek vase, the skirts get narrow near the knee and then flare out at the bottom.

These Paquin-inspired amphora skirts have ruffles near the hem. Delineator, May 1914.

“Summer evening gowns will be the first to feel the influence of the new amphora or Greek-vase skirt. The softer versions of the amphora skirt, trimmed with ruffles of silk or lace are particularly pretty and they are delightful things to dance in. In fact, Madame Paquin had the new dances in mind when she designed her new skirt, a fact which accounts to a great extent for the width she has introduced in it below the knee.” — The Delineator, June 1914, page 19.

More amphora skirts introduced by Paquin.

“Most tub suits [i.e., made of washable fabrics] are made with straight gored skirts, the simpler peg-top models, or the new amphora skirt with a circular flounce at the sides. The latter skirt will be very popular for summer suits, for it is very easy to make and to launder, and is most comfortable for walking.” — Delineator, June 1914.

To give you an idea of why the “amphora skirt” was a change in direction, here are some images of the narrow-bottomed peg-top skirts that dominated early 1914 fashions:

Butterick patterns from March 1914, Delineator.

Look at these restrictive, narrow-bottom hems:

Narrow hems, wide hips, create the need to take tiny steps. Peg-top skirts; March 1914.

Butterick peg-top skirt pattern 6818, from April 1914.

Butterick skirt 6770 is typical of the silhouette of early 1914. The center back has a small opening at the bottom, and probably in front, also.

How did they walk in these? Nos. 6818  and 6770 had slight openings. A back view of No. 6736 shows a slight opening in front and fullness in the rear:

Butterick skirt 6736 is narrow in front, but has ease for walking (or dancing) in the back. March 1914.

These peg-top skirts are not the “hobble skirt” which cartoonists lampooned earlier in the century, but they are descended from it.

This skirt was not made for long strides. Butterick 6914.

Two views of Butterick Amphora skirt 6978. June 1914.

Amphora skirt 6981.

Amphora skirts with lace or silk ruffles (left) and one with an insert, right.

Back views of 6979 and 6981. May 1914.

Alternate views of skirt 6980. May 1914. “The softer versions of the amphora skirt, trimmed with ruffles of silk or lace are particularly pretty and they are delightful things to dance in.”

You didn’t have to be young to appreciate the greater movement possible with the amphora skirt:

Two mature figures showing the skirt options available in Summer of 1914.

Fashion could accommodate more than one “look” in 1914.

It’s always nice to have a choice!

“While Paquin has been introducing the amphora skirt with its widened base, Cheruit and Premet have been experimenting with pantalets….”  The Delineator, June 1914, page 19.

If you want to read  more fashion predictions for 1914, click here.

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Couture Designs, World War I

Cross-Over Dresses, 1930s

Two Butterick styles from November 1930: 3525 and 3535.

As I browse through images from Delineator magazine, I notice odd trends, like these cross-over button plackets from 1930 to 1933. They seem rather complicated, and I’m glad I don’t have to figure out their construction.

The tricky bit on some, like the two pictured above, is that the part of the dress with the buttonholes on top is different on the bodice and the skirt. If the bodice buttons left over right, the skirt buttons right over left, and vice versa.

Full views of Butterick 3523 and 3535 from 1930.

Butterick blouse 3502,also from November 1930.

The dress with a sort of zig-zag front closing is also seen with the bodice and skirt overlaps going in the same direction:

Butterick 3070 from Delineator, February 1930, page 35.

This variation was suggested as flattering to older women.

The idea seems to be inspired by a couture dress from Patou, which was sketched for Delineator in May of 1930.

A dress by Jean Patou, sketched for Delineator readers among other Paris fashions in May, 1930.

Bodice detail of Patou dress. [Unfortunately, it was one of many sketched on the same page, so the image is small.]

Butterick’s interpretation, featured in September 1930. Pattern 3417.

This approach, with one side of the dress clearly overlapping the other on both bodice and skirt, is easy to understand.

This two-button version of the zig-zag front closing looks simple. Butterick 3462 from October 1930.

It was recommended for older and larger women:

“Youthful” Butterick 3462 was available in large sizes, bust 34 to 48 inches.

This sleeveless dress from August 1930 has a lot going on…. Butterick 3359. It’s not a two-piece, however.

The dress below really has a lot happening — the multi-closing, overlapping front pushed to extremes: **

Three buttons, in three places, on narrow strips of fabric: I can’t help thinking of mummies…. Butterick 3343 from August 1930.

But Butterick had not given up on the really difficult “right over left/ left over right” look. In 1933 two versions of this blouse were featured:

Butterick blouse pattern 4882, from January 1933. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that closure. **

A second version of blouse 4882. Delineator, January 1933.

Below, center, is another 1933 cross-over dress, with the top and skirt appearing to button in different directions:

Vacation fashions from Delineator, May 1933. Butterick 5104 (center)** carries on the cross-over style, but with bigger buttons.

** One possibility is that many 1930s’ garments had a side seam closing, which was almost never shown on the pattern illustrations. That would allow some of these button closings to be purely decorative. Till I actually see one of these “left over right, right over left” garments, I can only speculate.

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Filed under 1930s, Musings, Not Quite Designer Patterns, Vintage Couture Designs, Vintage Styles in Larger Sizes

A Visit to January 1920, from Delineator Magazine

Ice skaters in an ad for Ivory Flakes laundry soap. Delineator, January 1920, page 4.

One hundred years ago, the January Delineator offered Butterick patterns, advice for the working girl (and her mother), sketches of Paris couture, and all kinds of advertisements. Enter the time capsule:

French couture from Doucet and Paquin. January 1920.

Butterick sewing patterns inspired by French designer styles.

Butterick sewing patterns, January 1920.

These are not what we usually think of when we hear “Twenties’ style,” but the decade was just getting started. Page three began an essay on the dangers awaiting naive young women who went out to work in offices….

“A Warning for Business Women…”

The “young, ignorant girl” applies for a job….

Her boss tells her that “he would go mad unless he could find a young girl who could understand him and care for him….”

Here, he offers her alcohol….****

And then, he escorts her home….

Her mother needs to warn her…. (Author: Josephine Stricker)

It was 100 years ago, but all of this sounds painfully familiar in the 21st century. At least we now acknowledge that saying ‘no” isn’t always enough.

If you had to work as a housemaid, the difficulties might be considerable. This little article about the life of a housemaid in England shows that even Delineator was shocked by their working conditions:

Delineator was aimed at middle and (aspiring) upper class women, but the plight of British housemaids was shocking.

Back to fashion: These Butterick patterns for misses (age 14 to 19, in most cases) show a hint of what women wore in the later 1920s:

A selection of Butterick patterns for misses in their teens. The schoolgirl’s outfit at right shows the straight, low-waisted trend of the future.

Dresses for grown women also offered some styles without exaggerated hips:

Daytime styles for women from Butterick, January 1920.

The bare arms of evening dresses, even for girls in their teens, surprised me. For more “very bare” gowns from 1920, click here.

For young men returning from WW I, these uncorseted young women in bare-armed dresses must have been a pleasant surprise.

What did women do about underarm hair?

Ad for DeMiracle hair remover, January 1920.

A prized gift in 1920 was a “Spanish comb,” often made from celluloid, “the first synthetic plastic material.  In this ad, a celebrity endorsing fingernail powder (yes, nails were buffed to a shine by most women) wears a Spanish comb:

Actress Kitty Gordon wears a Spanish comb in her hair while endorsing Graff’s Hyglo powder nail polish.

More Spanish combs. These are from 1922.

You could order your camisoles, nightgowns, bloomers, and combinations from Dove and other companies.

Ad for Dove Undergarments, January 1920.

WW I had made knitting more popular than ever; this is an ad for Fleischer yarns:

Knit yourself this aqua sweater with Fleischer Yarns.

The obsession with boyish figures has not yet appeared.

You could wash your woolens and fine lingerie with Ivory Soap Flakes.

Well into the Twenties, women shaved their own soap flakes from bar soap, so this was a modern convenience product.

Also convenient: Rubber shoe covers.

Rubber shoe covers slipped on over your shoes in 1920. The shoes might be worn with gaiters that laced up the front. Some shoes had built-in gaiters.

Later in the 1920s, the B.F.Goodrich rubber company introduced a winter shoe cover with a slide fastener closing, giving us the word “Zipper.”

Mothers could find ads for maternity corsets in 1920:

The H & W maternity corset ad, January 1920.

And safety pins had been around for over a century:

Changing diapers was easier after the rust-proof safety pin became widely available. January 1920 ad.

It was appropriate that a magazine designed to sell sewing patterns should have ads for sewing machines.

The Davis sewing machine was portable and electric.

The Davis portable electric sewing machine was operated by a foot pedal. [I made clothes on a (non-electric) treadle sewing machine in the 1960s. Wish I still had one, even though it took up a lot of room.]

This ad should hold a special interest for all us who love Daphne DuMaurier’s novel Rebecca. In a scene often described as the most un-romantic marriage proposal ever, Maxim de Winter includes the information that “I prefer Eno’s.”

Ad for Eno’s Fruit Salts, a laxative. January 1920.

(Let’s hope it wasn’t the Washington Monument in this ad that attracted his attention.)

Eno’s Fruit Salts ad, January 1920.

To see the marriage proposal scene from the excellent (and faithful) 1979 TV adaptation of Rebecca, starring Joanna David and Jeremy Brett, click here.

**** I am irresistibly reminded of the limerick about “the young lady of Kent/ who said that she knew what it meant/ when men asked her to dine/ over cocktails and wine….” Perhaps her mother had explained it to her after reading the article in Delineator.

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Filed under 1920s, Combinations step-ins chemises teddies, Maternity clothes, Menswear, Musings, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shoes, Underthings, Vintage Accessories, Vintage Couture Designs

Mistletoe and Hemlines, 1920s

Butterick patterns for girls. December 1924, Delineator.

An entire page of patterns for girls and young teens had a Christmas theme in 1924. Above, left, a very young girl holds mistletoe over her own head. Right, a little girl is ready for snow in her red hat, coat and leggings. (Imagine buttoning those leggings onto a squirming 3 year old!)

Holiday dresses for girls, December 1924. The older girl’s hem is just below her knees, while the younger girl’s hem is mid-knee.

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/adult-1928-with-girls-1924.jpg

Dresses for Girls 8 to 15, 1924; Woman’s dress, 1928

I’m always struck by how “right” the proportions on early Twenties’ dresses for girls look, while the length of dresses for women and older teens was still quite long:

Patterns for grown women (“Ladies,” bust size 32 to 44 inches.) September 1924. Delineator.

Dresses for misses aged 15 to 20, November 1924. Not a rouged knee in sight — yet.

Patterns for girls under 15, October 1924. Knee-length!

Before the late nineteen twenties, as girls got older they dressed more like grown women, exchanging short skirts for longer hems.

The younger the girl, the shorter the dress in 1924.

Those hems make even these 1924 party dresses for older teens look long and dowdy.

These teens are wearing quite long hems, compared to their younger sisters. December, 1924.

But, by 1927, adult women were wearing dresses as short as the pre-teens of 1924! Women aspired to look younger, and youth set the fashions.

Left a teen under 15, 1924. Right, a grown woman from 1927. Both are Butterick patterns illustrated in Delineator.

In 1927, these sophisticated women are wearing hems that only schoolgirls would have worn just three years earlier.

Ladies’ fashions from November 1927 are as short as this girl’s dress from 1924.

This is just a sample of the “youth” trend of the late Twenties. Of course, by 1927, young teens were showing the entire knee….

Coat and dress for 15-and-unders. November 1927.

For girls 12 to 16 years of age. November 1927.

As one (hair dye) advertisement put it, “You Cannot Afford to be Gray because … this is the Age of Youth.” (1925.) Happy 2020!

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Filed under 1920s, Children's Vintage styles, Coats, evening and afternoon clothes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture

1920s’ Hat Patterns Online at CoPA

Inspiration for your cloche hat trim: McCall 1372 from 1924 at CoPA.

The Commercial Pattern Archive (CoPA) at URI has hat patterns, which makes it a good place for milliners to look for inspiration. McCall 1372 is one of the patterns that doesn’t have an image of the pattern pieces, but you could apply these trim ideas to a purchased hat.

As usual, this hat pattern included more than one style. Notice the simple pleated ribbon cockades on the red hat. Are the centers filled with beads or lace or French knots? Your choice.

If you want to read the suggested fabrics or other details, just log in to the C0mmercial Pattern Archive and search for McCall 1372. (Be sure to chose “any” in the final “collection” category.) Using CoPA is free!

Many of CoPA’s hat patterns do show the original pattern piece shapes.

McCall 1603 shows two different cloche hats.

I used to think cloche hats had to be made by starting with a felt shape, but 1920s’ sewing patterns allowed women to make a cloche without having to own equipment to steam and block the felt.

The black hat on the left has a very simple pattern:

Three pattern pieces plus a ribbon trim. McCall 1603, View 1.

Cloche hats made from 4 to 6 gores were common patterns. This one has an intriguing zigzag in the brim. McCall 1603, view 2. It looks like the darker brown “brim” is just a piece of ribbon tucked under the hat!

One version of Butterick 1800 (view A) looks like a 4 gored hat from the top but really uses an easy one-piece side-and-crown combined.

Notice that the lining is very simple, and does not have to echo the shape of the hat. The same lining is used for variation B of Butterick 1800:

Butterick 1800, version B. A hat from just two pattern pieces!

An experienced milliner would know to add lining and an interior ribbon band in the right size for the head measurement.

McCall used full-color pattern illustrations on their envelopes, which makes them a joy to find. McCall 1604, dated 1927.

Version 1 only shows two gores, but I’m guessing the instructions said “cut two” of each….

It looks to me like there are two front gores and two gores in back, with a seam creating a ridge across the top.

Pattern pieces for two versions of McCall cloche hat No. 1604. The front and back crown shapes are subtly different.

Version 2 is really simple: a circular top, a crown with tall, curved sides that are crushed into folds, and a quirky shaped brim which folds down over one cheek. You could sew on a pair of jeweled buttons if you don’t have a Cartier cliquet pin.

Hats began shrinking in the 1930s; in the “I would never have figured that out!” department, here is a preview of McCall No. 69, a hat pattern from 1932.

McCall hat pattern 69 uses pattern shapes I would never have thought of by myself. Visit CoPA to see this one!

Version C of McCall 69. The pattern, which looks like it is exploding, uses just one, bizarre, piece plus a ribbon headband.

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Musings for December 2019

Simplicity pattern 7734 included this Russian styled blouse. 1968.

I’ve mentioned before what a privilege it is to live in a city where many cultures mix and thrive. Lately I keep thinking about how much I have learned from casual meetings.

In the 1990s, one of my university students — a little older than the others — was a recent immigrant from Russia. One day, before class, I asked him how he wound up in California.

Ilya said, “I was born in Moscow. My parents were born in Moscow. But do you know what it said on my Russian passport? Under ‘nationality’ it said ‘Armenian/Jew.’ ”

“Two persecuted minorities!” I gasped. Ilya laughed and nodded vigorously. That’s why he decided to become an American.

Imagine going through life knowing that you would always be an “outsider,” never considered a “real” citizen, even after many generations. I told him, “I’m glad you’re here.”

Once again this week, the current President of the United States suggested that people of Jewish ancestry or belief owe their loyalty to the nation of Israel, rather than the United States. I urge you to read this post at Envisioning the American Dream, in which Sally Edelstein explains — yet again — that she is an American. As you read it, remember what was written on Ilya’s Russian passport.

French couturier Doucet described this jacket as “Russian” in 1917. Sketch from Delineator magazine, September 1917.

Around 2007, I joined a neighborhood society for artists. After a meeting, I found myself chatting with a painter named Marina — a Russian emigrant who was old enough to be Ilya’s grandmother.

Marina told me her story:  “I was always good at learning languages. By the time I was fifteen I was getting work as a translator. I used to work with foreign businessmen who needed help getting around in Moscow. One week I worked for an American businessman; after a few days he asked if it would be possible to visit a synagogue. He wanted to pray there. I told him ‘yes’ — that my family was Jewish, too. Then he said, ‘I want to show you something.’ He took out his passport and opened it. He said, ‘I’m a Jew, like you. But look what it says on my passport.’ Under ‘nationality,’ it said, ‘American.’ ”

“From that moment,” Marina told me, “I was determined to become an American. I finished school, I attended university, I worked…. But always in my mind I had this goal: I would be an American, no matter how hard or how long it took. And here I am, for many years now. I raised my family here.”

What can you say to a story like that? I say, “I’m glad you’re here.”

The side closing on this boy’s suit from 1924 qualified it for the “Russian” description. Butterick pattern 5202.

If you asked me fifty years ago whether I led a life of privilege, I would have said, “No.” My father did manual labor. Money was scarce. But my parents managed to build a little house, with a little apartment behind it, then buy the lot next door and build a little duplex on that…. Which eventually gave me the freedom to choose a career that didn’t provide much income. (You can work very hard in the theater and never make a living wage consistently.) So I was lucky. I was born in the U.S.A. (like my parents and their parents. They were lucky, too.) We never had to make the hard choices Ilya and Marina had to make. We didn’t have to leave everything behind and struggle to begin a new life.

Another story that I remembered today: My husband is an amateur violinist; about a decade ago his string quartet played a concert at  the Sherith Israel temple. I was amazed by the huge building, the beautiful dome, the stained glass windows, the balcony and all the polished wood that contributed to great acoustics. At intermission, in the ladies’ restroom, I found a woman bathing her face in cold water, trying to stop her tears. When I asked if I could help her, she told me that she was crying with joy. I don’t know if she was Russian or Ukrainian or what country she came from, but her accent suggested the former USSR.

“I’m crying because this place is so beautiful…. And because you can tell it’s been here for a long, long time….”

She was right. I just learned that Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco is one of the oldest synagogues in the United States. It was founded during the Gold Rush — before California became a state. Over the years its physical location changed, but the current building on California Street was begun in 1904.   The lady with tears running down her face was thinking of all the generations who worshiped freely, who were part of the larger community, who prospered and were able to build a place of worship equal to any in this city.

I don’t know where she came from, but clearly, her family had not experienced seven generations without persecution.

How lucky I am to take such freedom for granted. Perhaps you are that lucky, too.

I never want to see the day when an American citizen’s passport says “something /something” instead of “American.” ***

In case you’re wondering:  I don’t have any Jewish ancestors — that I know of. Genealogy is turning up surprises: a Methodist elder here, a suicide there, and quite a lot of relatives who were deliberately forgotten. I’m the product of parents who had no religious beliefs, but who started me on ten years of Catholic education, the last four at a college where everyone graduated with a minor in theology and philosophy. Let’s say I’m still open to new ideas.

In some towns, it’s easy to assume that everyone has the same background. Not here. Because I live in a large urban area, it’s possible for me to be friends with people for decades without ever hearing about their religious affiliations, unless it comes up in casual conversation. (I figure that, if you judge the tree by the fruit it bears, and the fruit is good, the name of the tree may be irrelevant.) At a dinner party, an old friend seated me next to her pastor, a Unitarian minister. [Deduction: Barbara is a Unitarian! Surprise!] A co-worker once mentioned that she was dreading Chinese New Year at her mother’s house, because she would have to spend hours on her knees, worshiping her ancestors. She also mentioned that she would have to dress in new — or at least, clean — clothes from the skin out. [Nice coincidence: Scrubbing the house and paying all your debts for the New Year is a Scottish tradition and a Chinese tradition.] Once, my father’s boss invited us to watch the Chinese New Year’s parade from the balcony at a large Buddhist church, where he was a Board Member. [He’d never mentioned his religion, but perhaps Buddhist compassion made him give my 65 year old father a job when no one else would hire him? Those eight extra quarters of work qualified my father for Social Security and Medicare, so it was a very big deal. Thank you, Mr. Yee.] My husband’s quartet had to reschedule their weekend practice day when the cellist was elected president of her [very] liberal Congregation. “I thought you were a Catholic,” my husband said. “I am,” she replied, “but my husband and my son are Jewish, so….” [So, she observes one Sabbath on Saturday, another Sabbath on Sunday….]

I love the way we all fit together. Incidentally, I’m one of those people who wishes strangers “Happy Holidays,” because around here you make friends with people from all over the world. I don’t assume that everyone celebrates the same holy days — or even the same “new year.” (I joke that, if I fail to keep the New Year’s resolutions I made on January 1st, I’ll get another chance on Chinese New Year, or even Nowruz (my dentist’s parents were born in Persia.)

So — Happy holidays, whatever you celebrate. Count your blessings.

*** Technically, the “nationality” line on my passport says “United States of America.”

 

 

 

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