Friday, April 19, 2013


Earrings were never a must in my personal wardrobe in the 1940’s. They pinched, but I did have a few pair which screwed on ears tightly. When I was a month short of my 18th birthday I moved to Venezuela. This was an entirely different world and one thing I quickly noted were earrings in pierced ears. All the women had them: little girls had them, even infants in arms had them, or at least little bits of thread covered with mercurochrome to start the process.

I had to have my ears pierced. My mother threw up her hands and gave permission. The maid in the apartment we were renting was my age and got the general idea from my fractured Spanish, and her aunt the laundress came one day and with a fine embroidering needle and thread, ice cubes and a cork to place behind the ear, she performed the delicate surgery.

“Have you started?” I asked nervously. It’s done, I was told. I now had ears with white threads hanging from them. They were to be turned every day, discomfort or no, and alcohol applied to the hole. In a week or so the maid Marcelina helped me put in my first pair of pierced earrings, little pearls, and I was now hooked forever.

I got several lovely pair while living in Caracas, silver ones and 18 carat cochano gold ones, and brought them home to go through college with me. After graduation when I was sharing a Washington, DC apartment with my college roommate, we had a cleaning woman who, struck by my exquisite taste, stole only the earring tray from my jewelry box, plus a plaid suit, a bottle of Jamaican rum given me by a vacationing friend, and ten dollars. My roommate lost nothing!

I had been wearing the pearls that day and they stayed with me. I was married in them. I still wear earrings as a matter of habit and my four-year old half-Paraguayan granddaughter is carrying on the tradition.

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