So we went to the Victoria and Albert museum today and I learned something about my ancestors.
I knew my Hatton line (Joseph's Hatten Carpenter's mother's line) were drapers in Gravesend. "Drapers" is such a beautiful word for owning a clothing store. I also know from his journals that they retired and lived off their wealth for over 20 years and I know from the censuses that they had several servants. So they must have been fairly successful drapers. From an American point of view owning a shop makes you a hard living--perhaps blue collar life. But I knew in England it was a bit different. I'd seen "Are You Being Served?" on PBS and I know Eliza Doolittle aspired to be a shop girl.
As my ancestors came to America and then crossed the plains into the western frontier, they picked up a very utilitarian view of clothing. If you were too into fashion, you were vain. That flip in attitude had given me a skewed view of what my ancestors did. But now I think I have a little better perspective. Perhaps vanity was a virtue.
Later we went down to Oxford Street and Regent street to see the Christmas lights. Beautiful shops, beautiful lights. I learned something about my ancestors and had a great time.