Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


February 1, 2014

The bra: Friend or foe?

JACKSONVILLE — This is a nod to Women Inventors Month; not the best-known observance on the calendar, but worthy of recognition nevertheless.         Throughout history, woman's body has been squeezed and contorted into many different forms. The bust is no exception.

The female bust has gone in and out of style, more times than John Travolta. Sometimes minimized to be hidden from view.

Other times maximized to the fullest extent.

If we look back to 2500 B.C., we find that the Minoan women that lived on the Greek isle of Crete wore a bra-like garment that actually lifted their breasts out of their clothes. In later years, ancient Roman and Greek women took the opposite approach. They strapped on a breast band to reduce their bust size.

But where did the modern bra come from?

The first modern bra was invented by a New York socialite named Mary Phelps Jacob way back in 1913. (I'm sure that a lot of women want to believe that a man invented this torturous device, but it was a woman.)

Mary had just purchased a sheer evening gown for one of her social events, but it presented a problem.

At that time, corsets stiffened with whaleback bones were the accepted undergarment.

Unfortunately, whaleback corsets and sheer evening gowns just don't go together well.

In one of those great flashes of genius, Mary came up with a great solution. Together with her French maid, Mary took two handkerchiefs, ribbon, and some cord and devised a simple backless brassiere.

Mary was the hit of the party, of course, but the real hit among the women in attendance was her newfangled brassiere.

Mary was happy to sew up a bra for all family and friends that were interested.

One day, she received a request for one of her contraptions from a stranger, who had happened to enclose a dollar for her efforts.

Mary Jacobs ran to the patent office with her sketches. In November, 1914, she was awarded a patent for the "Backless Brassiere."

Mary made several hundred of the devices (marketed under the name Caresse), but due to lack of publicity, the business collapsed.

You’d think that this would have been the end of the bra, but it managed to live on. Mary sold the rights to the brassiere to the Warner Brothers Corset Company in Bridgeport, Ct., for a mere $1,500. Just think what it would be worth today.

Of course, many innovations were later made to the brassiere: Use of elastic, standard cup sizes, and the development of the strapless bra.

During the 1920's, the flat-chested "flappers" that my mother always reminisced about were the rage.

A Russian immigrant named Ida Rosenthal decided to buck the trend. With the help of her husband William, they founded Maidenform.

Ida was responsible for grouping women into bust size categories and developed bras for every stage of life from puberty to maturity.

The 1960's were famous for bra-burning, remember? You’d think that this would have been the end of the bra, but it wasn't.

Gravity and aging were on the side of the brassiere manufacturers, and as far as can be seen today, always will be.

A question to ponder:

If you’re 39 and holding, how old will you be before you let go?


Text Only
  • Local reviews ‘Tomato Republic’

    On April 9, I had the privilege and pleasure of seeing the world premiere of The Tomato Republic, a documentary movie about the 2013 Jacksonville, Texas, mayoral election. The film was entered in the Dallas Film Festival within the Texas subjects division.

    April 15, 2014

  • Don’t do it yourself

    After years of fooling with just about every do-it-yourself project imaginable, I finally came to a startling conclusion. Just about everything I can do for myself, or think I can, somebody else can do for me faster and better and cheaper as well. Starting at an early age, I tried to learn every known skill in order to become independent. The heartache and frustration resulting from such a stubborn urge knew no bounds.

    April 5, 2014

  • When push comes to Shuve

    Ever been to Shuve, Louisiana? Don’t feel like you’re by yourself. Lots of folks have never even heard of it, much less been there.

    March 1, 2014

  • The spice of life: Some seasonings have benefits

    In the 15th century, Europe was in search of the spice of life.  For them, salt was not enough.  They also wanted cinnamon, pepper, cumin, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.  It was for spices that the Portuguese sailed around the southern tip of Africa to reach India.  During this time a pound of Ginger was equal in value to one live sheep.

    February 26, 2014

  • President’s Day celebrates leader who built country’s foundation

    This month we celebrate President's Day. George Washington, who is also known as the "Father of our Country,” is one that I admire the most.

    February 7, 2014

  • CVS tobacco decision gives hope

    Just as I was starting to think money ruled the world and everything in it, a national giant makes a move that will cost them $2 billion in annual revenue.

    February 6, 2014

  • The bra: Friend or foe?

    This is a nod to Women Inventors Month; not the best-known observance on the calendar, but worthy of recognition nevertheless.

    February 1, 2014

  • Chocolate and chilies contain vast health benefits

    February is a good month to talk about chocolate.  For most of us, chocolate means dessert, but it can also be an ingredient in savory dishes.  For example the flavorful mole sauce from the Mexican tradition is a different way to work in some healthy dark

    January 29, 2014

  • Hard work and shining light on dark corners

    Newsrooms of today may not be like the image you have in your mind.
    There are no smoke-filled rooms with fast-talking reporters and editors hovered over desks arguing over the best angle to take on a breaking story.

    January 24, 2014

  • Thankful for chivalry of strangers

    From time to time, I remember to count my blessings, those moments of sweet grace knowing that The Big Guy always keeps an eye out for me by providing when I most need help.

    January 18, 2014