In the early 1960s, when the fog rolled in off the ocean onto Point Loma, and the mornings were too damp and chilly to play outside, I loved to snuggle and hide in my mother’s fur closet. Opening one of the master bedroom closet doors with my small hands, I’d tug aside the heavy coats to lift the hidden brass latch, releasing the smell of pine. I’d crawl into the small space and close the door behind me. The fact that it was as dark as a cave inside and verboten made it even more exciting and scary. In the quiet, I’d rub my nose into the deep fur of my mother’s mink coat and a musty primal scent with a tinge of cigarette smoke would permeate my being. Then I’d caress the white fox fur, a fluff of tenderness. I avoided though the one with beady-eyed heads on either end. 

Although I couldn’t make them out in the blackness, I knew what each looked like from seeing them wrapped around my mother’s shoulders on her way to a cocktail party or charity ball. Her hair done up just so with a bright red lipstick smile. A favorite was the lime green dress with the slits over the bust that made her look like Marilyn Monroe, especially when smoking a cigarette or waving a martini glass. I couldn’t wait until I was a big girl and could wear one of those furs to a party too. 

A few years ago they were passed down to me, but I never got to sport them in public. It is forbidden by our society now to wear fur. Before I gave them away I put my nose into the mink stole again to smell the musty scent one last time, and with tears in my eyes, memories of my mother’s beauty during that era came rushing back to me again.

- Jill G. Hall