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Many of us born between 1938 and 1950, remember how popular "hope" chests were with young women of that time. The large wooden containers were often cedar to better perserve the contents. Girls who possessed them would fill them with linens and things which would ultimately become part of their "house beautiful" efforts following marriage. Ownership of such chests was a fairly strong indicator of a girl's optimism or "marketability" in the attractive, suitable wife department.

They were frequently engagement presents and often construed as a girl's commitment to the social demands of "setting a good table," "setting a good example," or merely "setting up housekeeping." I never had one. But, I was preoccupied worrying about a totally different type of chest. When all the girls around me had begun to physically "blossom," I remained excruciatingly flat chested. My mother bought me a ballerina bra and sewed "falsies" into it. It helped a "little," but I lived in constant fear that my big (yet small) deception would be exposed.

Perhaps to compenstate for my "shortcomings," I developed a flair for the outrageous and dramatic and absolutely stunned a "steady" college boyfriend. He just couldn't seem to get the message that I did NOT want him to continue fumbling around with the buttons on my blouse. In frustration, I ripped open the blouse, pointed to my chest and said in a very exasperated tone of voice, "Look, it's just a little padded bra. If I get one just like it for you to play with will you leave me alone?!"

The most hilarious experiment with enhancing my chest was a bra manufactured in the early 1960's which was inflatable. After blowing up each side I would have my roommates evaluate the appearance of identical size and add more air or remove some depending on the need.

They were usually bent over double in gales of laughter because we were flight attendants and they were having visions of a mid-air decompression and a loud whooshing noise coming from my chest as I helped passengers with oxygen masks. Perhaps the most important chest NOW for us who have passed 50 is the "treasure" type--a metaphor for memories of a time when girls put all their dreams in a wooden "hope chest." We've overcome a lot and all neat women may ever need at this time in life, is perhaps the type of chest we can use as a foot rest while we read, or talk to friends, or have a cat nap. A "treasure" chest for the new memories that we're eligible for now that we've "overcome middle-age."

Care to comment on chests, either hope, treasure or some other type?