Flashback Friday Archive 2021-22: Flashback Friday: Week of March 4

2022-03-04 TWIR Image-Lafayette Avenue Suffern

March 1, 1922 – 100 YEARS AGO
Nyack Evening Journal

       “Men are better designers of women’s clothes than women because they are more impersonal, more concerned with the lines and swing of a dress. Women get cluttered up with details and detour too much from the general outline,” says Ethel Traphagen. An Exhibition of her Cooper Union and New York Evening School of Industrial art student’s costume designs was shown in New York City.
       “Women will get all worked up over a frill or a bit of trimming and lose the character of the dress,” she continued. “Dresses have character and mood. We invariably associate the gingham dress with the bread and butter mood; brocades bring on our dignity and suggest repose; taffetas inspire us to a gay buoyancy; in chiffon and voiles we may be as elusive as the materials themselves, while organdies transport us to the sweet and twenties.
       “Department store clothes, in spite of the hundreds of dresses cut on one pattern for all kinds of figures, can have individuality, as a rule, if good taste and judgment control the designing. With slight changes, most ready to wear costumes can acquire that intimate ‘I was made just for you’ look.
       “American designers make better stage costumes for the American stage than French designers, but French women have a better sense of the line than our own women, perhaps because the Latin races have had a longer contact with beauty than has young America. But we gain by being nearer to the soil, for our ideas are newer and capable of infinite variations.
       “Fashion will often caricature us if we let her. For instance, the woman with a Roman nose who insisted on doing her hair in a psyche knot when that coiffure was fashionable, accentuated the bump in her nose and gave her head an exaggerated width. If she wears a brim hat she creates two hard lines for profile.
       “The men in our classes seem to excel in theatrical designs,” said Miss Traphagen. “They have a fine idea of the abstract and let their imaginations run riot.”
       Miss Ethel Traphagen has many admiring friends in Nyack. She is a sister of Mr. J. C. Traphagen of South Nyack.

March 2, 1972 – 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

[Image:  Members of the Ramapo Woman's Club: Renee Koenig; Pat Svalland; Marie Condon; Pat Knapp; Madeleine Ret; Ruth Stack; Louise Tirelli.]

In this day and age, when stereotyped ideas are being shot full of holes, we can no longer look at the archetypal clubwoman as the little, old white-gloved lady who gets together with other little, old white-gloved ladies to sip tea and spread gossip.
       Today’s Rockland clubwoman has a nobler purpose, and a lot more to do than launder her white gloves. She’s committed to community service. The women in this story … members of the Ramapo Woman’s Club … are representative of the new archetypes.

       The Rockland County clubwoman is a multi-faceted individual. She is dynamic—a socially conscious, “reaching out” type of individual. She is dedicated to her organization’s goals, but she’s a family woman, too—a mother with pre-schoolers or college-bound children. She is versatile, applying her many talents to the many jobs she undertakes. She is energetic, basically friendly and a “joiner.”
       Most often, she has come from an urban background, and is one of the growing numbers of people who have made the exodus to the suburbs. Her club world is a potpourri of nationalities, races, and cultures—Jewish, Irish, Italian, black—a mini melting pot of women with self-proclaimed social tasks, whether they be for the mentally ill or retarded, the diseased, the poor, the elderly, the homeless.
       For the suburban housewife in a new community, there are new friends to make, and for many, there’s new leisure time to cope with “after the children are in school.”
       “My husband doesn’t want me to stagnate,” says one clubwoman. Another says, “You’ve got to get out sometime.”
       For the suburban housewife who has no pre-schoolers, who is not furthering her education at college, or who does not have a part-time or full-time job, the club route is one way to channel her creative energies. Some women combine some or all of these duties.
       Most agree, however, that their families come first, that their husbands are happy about their wives’ constructive involvements, and that their greatest pleasure comes from helping others.
       The Ramapo Woman’s Club is relatively new to the Rockland County scene. As a community service organization, patterned after the Nanuet Woman’s Club, it has grown from a membership of five 13 years ago to one of 52 today. Starting out as a group of women in Monsey, its membership has spread to include women in the entire county.
       Its main goal is to provide two scholarships a year for deserving seniors from Ramapo and Spring Valley High Schools. Fund-raising events during the year provide the money for these scholarships, which are given to talented students who would otherwise be unable to continue their educations. Last year’s scholarships totaled $600.
       The remaining funds are given to Cancer Care, to children on Social Services welfare lists, and to Happy Valley School in Pomona. The club also sponsors Christmas parties at Rockland State Hospital.
       Pat Svalland has been president of the club for two years and a member since 1964. As president, she has total responsibility for coordinating the programs, but her duties do not end at serving as figurehead. Pat also helps out on club committees.
       She confines her other activities to being a Brownie troop leader, and she hopes soon to start work as a teacher’s aide.
       “I have two children, and I don’t let any of my activities interfere with them.” she says. Her husband, director of an engineering construction firm, “is very active in his own Masonic Lodge,” Pat comments.
       She and her family moved to Rockland nine years ago from Brooklyn. She joined the club as a new county resident because she was interested in meeting people and getting to know the community.
       Pat Knapp, by her own admission, “is a pretty busy gal” as the club’s fund-raising chairman. She has to organize the yearly events—the antique and garage sales, the card parties and fashion shows, the square dances, the gourmet cookbook of members’ recipes—all of which provide the funds for the two club scholarships.
       She lists her other endeavors as PTA, Brownie leader, and saleslady for a cosmetic firm, in addition to bringing up three children, and leading an active outdoor life of camping and cooking in the Adirondacks with her salesman husband.
       Is her husband the understanding type?
       “He has to be,” Pat laughs “There’s never a dull moment around here. We also bowl and take dancing lessons together.” Pat, one of the few Rockland natives in the club, brings her pre-schooler to club meetings when her husband can’t babysit.
       Membership chairman Dolores Reeder, a five-year member of the club, manages to juggle a part-time job as a tax consultant with PTA meetings and her task of promoting club membership with yearly “get-acquainted” parties at her home.
       The mother of three school-age children and wife of a stockbroker, Dolores says, “I really enjoy working with the public; people are there to serve. I like this club because it is a community service organization. I wouldn’t join a social club.”
       Madeleine Ret has been program chairman for two years. Her duty is to provide the speaker or activity for each club meeting. Some of the programs have included a speaker from the League of Women Voters, a card party and fashion show, a holiday Christmas party, and an arts and crafts program of rug-making, needlework, and ceramics.
       “We made afghans and aprons for residents of the Infirmary, and we sent toys to St. Agatha’s Home and the Happy Valley School.” she says. “Several years ago, the club used fabric pictures to illustrate books for the blind and gave them to the Finkelstein Library in Spring Valley.
       Madeleine is a former school teacher who counts painting and sewing among her present hobbies. The mother of four has also worked as a substitute teacher and has served as a Sunday school teacher. Her husband is an engineer for the Port of New York Authority.
       “It’s sometimes very difficult to manage club duties with this size family,” Madeleine says, “but it’s also good to spend a little time with other women and do something for others. It makes you a better person.”
       Publicity chairman Marie Condon has been in the club three years and takes care of reporting club activities to the media, publicizing club meetings, fund-raising events and social functions.
       With a large family of seven children, Marie finds time for PTA and Little League Women’s Auxiliary activities. Her husband is an insurance company manager.
       “We also ski, hike, bowl, play tennis and attend the theater,” Marie says.
       How does her husband react to her club involvement? “He’s all for it,” she says. “The other husbands are involved in the card parties and pitch in to help out with the antique shows.”
       Marie has taken several college courses and would “love” to put herself through college, but with so many children also striving toward that goal and one son who wants to enter medical school, she isn’t sure if she will be able to continue her studies.
       She characterizes the club members as “wonderful women. No member is more important than another, and every committee can always use help.”

This Week in Rockland (#FBF Flashback Friday) is prepared by Clare Sheridan on behalf of the Historical Society of Rockland County. To learn about the HSRC’s mission, upcoming events or programs, visit or call (845) 634-9629.


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