Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here. The other day I was looking for something in my jewelry box and came across my old charm bracelet. Remember those? Or maybe what you remember is something called a charm bracelet that looks entirely different. It depends, I suppose, on how old you are.
I was born in 1947. In 1963, at least in Liberty, New York, where I grew up, THE gift almost every girl got for her sixteenth birthday was a sterling silver charm bracelet. If she had a sweet sixteen party, her friends might give her charms as gifts, but if I remember correctly, she more often bought them for herself, because every charm was supposed to signify something that was not only special but also personal. Some girls had bracelets bulging with charms. It was a wonder they could even lift their arms. Others, like me, were either on limited budgets or were pickier about what they wanted to commemorate.
My charms (the ones on the bracelet—let’s not get snarky here!) are few and far between, but each one definitely had and still has meaning. The first, traditionally, was the one that said “Sweet Sixteen” and mine, in the spirit of the times, also featured high heeled shoes. 1963, remember? Not that far out of the 1950s. We’ve come a long way, baby.
The ballet dancers were the first charm I added. I took ballet lessons through my junior year in high school. Because I was the tallest girl in the class and because I didn’t take toe lessons, I ended up playing the role of the prince in two consecutive recitals. Concurrently, and during my senior year, my focus was on plays, hence the comedy/tragedy mask and the trombone. Why a trombone? Because we did The Music Man as our high school musical my senior year, an experience that had a huge impact on a lot of us. Thank you, Gary Eckhart, art teacher and director extraordinaire.
You’ll notice another charm between the dancers and the mask. It’s a bit out of order, since I graduated from high school at seventeen (diploma charm), but the drinking age in New York State in 1965 was eighteen, so even though by then I was living in Maine, I had to add something to mark the occasion. I also brought a half gallon of legally purchased dark rum back to college after Christmas break that year. I kept it hidden in my knitting bag. I wasn’t a big beer drinker, but I thought beer steins were cool, and my first alcoholic drink ever (rite of passage!) was a beer.
Moving on, there are only two more charms. I guess I just wasn’t into charm bracelets the way some girls were. One is the seal of Bates College. The other is a wedding bell.
Now that I’ve rediscovered the charm bracelet, I’m going to have to think of a way to work it, or at least a charm bracelet, into one of the plots in my Deadly Edits series, where the amateur detective is just a little younger than I am and (what a shocker!) has a great many of my high school memories.
What about you, dear reader? Did you wear a charm bracelet in your younger days? If you did, please share, and tell us about some of your favorite charms.
GIVEAWAY: X Marks the Scot has no charm bracelets in it, but this eleventh entry in the Liss MacCrimmon series has just been published in hardcover. I have one copy to give away to someone who comments on this post. The winner will be randomly chosen by one of my cats.
Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of more than fifty traditionally published books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the “Deadly Edits” series (Crime & Punctuation—2018) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in a Cornish Alehouse) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” mysteries and is set in Elizabethan England. New in 2017 is a collection of short stories, Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com