Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why did June vacuum with pearls?

June Cleaver past last week and we all flashed back to sitting at the television set watching the episodes of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.

One comment associated with many people including journalist was that they often described
June Cleaver as the woman who vacuumed with high heels and pearls
. To my critical ear, this often was followed by a judgement call of the journalist by me. I would think this person is not educated of semi-precious gems.

Why did June vacuum with pearls? To me it is interesting that the 1950s could be considered a culture. A social history buff, I would like to explain this culture phenomenon.

Truly precious pearls were quite expensive. They were usually given at special occasions such as a 16th birthday, wedding, anniversary, college graduation, etc. They usually were not only an expensive gift but also a gift of much sentimental value.

Today when there are so many "fake" pearls available, it is not well known the proper care and treatment of a genuine string of pearls.

The pearl were individually knotted after each pearl, to prevent the event of breaking a string of pearls and having all the individual pearls roll away. A rather stiff multi-stranded cotton necklace would be twisted together for the pearls. Then after each pearl was added a very small tight knot by hand to secure each pearl. If the necklace did break, the pearls would not then roll all over the floor.

A recently finished pearl necklace is not a beautiful flowing necklace but is stiff and awkward looking. The key to caring for your pearl necklace is to wear your necklace and the warmth of your body would gradually loosen the stiff string and soften the knots in the necklace.

If you received your relatives pearl necklace, you knew you did not just receive a piece of jewelry but that beloveds own body was instrumental in treating that necklace.

So to whom ever June willed her pearls to (i.e. a granddaughter) the granddaughter would have known her grandmother had worn the necklace many hours.

So every time I hear or read this statement I reflect on the uncultured (pun was intended) education of the observer.


  1. Very true, Ruth. Also, the more the pearls are worn against the skin, the greater the luster. They don't get that way sitting in the little velvet box.

  2. And the high heels?
    Of course!
    Everyone wore high heels all day long.
    That's why they ended up with major bunions!