Do you remember the rubber lined mackintoshes that ladies wore in the 1950s. Did they attract you then, and may I remind you of them now?
I recall a family get-together and a picnic by the sea in the Autumn of 1953, when I was eighteen. Among those present was a girl cousin of mine who had left school in the summer, and was now working in an office. She appeared carrying a pale blue rubber lined mackintosh over her arm and at first 1 thought that it was her mother’s But after the picnic things had been arranged among the sand dunes, she slipped it on herself. I was amazed. She was just a nice, ordinary sort of girl who used to look plain and baggy in school gaberdine raincoats, but now looked vivacious in a mackintosh.
I noticed it was made by ‘Ghillie’, neatly buttoned and flowed down to below the knee. A ‘midi’ as we say today. Across her shoulders lay a hood, attached by little buttons below the collar, and with mackintosh ‘strings’ to tie it securely when required. And I remember hoping it would be.
After the picnic dinner the grown-ups sat about and talked, while the rest of us explored the surrounding area. l kept near my cousin and gradually we separated from the others and walked across the beach. It was quite remarkable what very good company she had become. The change was fascinating and I was captivated by the swishing, rustling music of her mackintosh in motion. The sun emerged from behind the clouds and briefly warmed us, also releasing a passing tang of new mackintosh fragrance on the air.
Having crossed the beach we scrambled up the path leading to the cliff top and as we scrambled the music changed to urgent slapping, egged on by the freshening wind. We pulled our collars up – I was wearing a double texture riding mackintosh – and the lapels stung our checks as they thrummed in the wind. Nearing the top, a flurry of rain caused us to stop for breath and my cousin flipped her hood up over her collar with both hands, quickly tying the cords under her chin. It is one of the most charming gestures ever to see a lady disappear into her mackintosh hood and remain snug, and protected, secure against the rain. We braved the elements on the cliff top for a little while before descending the path to rejoin the rest of the party and it remains to this day one of my greatest pleasures to enjoy a mackintosh walk along the cliffs, beside the sea, or on the moors where wind and rain swirl all around, but cannot penetrate the mystery of the rubber lining.
I wonder if the combined resources of the editor and readers can provide some genuine 1950 area mackintosh photos for the enjoyment of those of us who prefer this kind of rainwear to all others. It would salute the memory of the firms now past, and applaud the initiative of company’s like Kingfisher who do so well in providing for us today.