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Retro Military Memories

Over the weekend, I read a blog post about how Victoria's Secret has devolved from a once-classy yet sexy merchant to a low-class merchant catering to a different, younger demographic.

Victoria's Secret stores circa 1990 used to be mature and classy, like a French woman's boudoir. Classical music was softly piped through the racks, the walls were cream and pastel colored, and the stores smelled like lavender and other hints of whatever fragrance they were selling at the time. The salesladies were professional-sometimes to the point of coming across as a little bit snooty-but always helpful.

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Everything about the store and how they market themselves has been completely overhauled. The music and interior design is all techno, there are tacky plastic mannequins, and the salespeople I've encountered are mostly a bunch of bubbleheads. But the worst part is the fact that every time I go in there, I'm nearly overrun by a bunch of giggly, gum popping 12 year-olds.

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The company that I used to know and love is gone. Long live the memories.

I'm in full agreement. I remember the glory days of Victoria's Secret when the entire experience dripped of elegance. Whether you were flipping through a catalog, inside of a store or wearing one of their signature fragrances, undergarments or clothing, it was a sophisticated experience.

After reading the post, I started thinking about many things in terms of Retro, including military life. I figured out that I miss a few things from my early days as a milspouse.

Some of what I miss:

Open Posts: In a post-9/11 world, security is a must, but I do miss the days of driving right onto Ft. Benning or Ft. Hood without having to worry about checkpoints and traffic jams.

Handwritten Invitations: Handwritten, sealed and stamped invitations to coffees, parties and other events have been replaced with blast email invites. Other than official Change of Command ceremonies, I can't remember the last time I received a hand-written invitation. I do understand that it's easier, cheaper and more efficient in the digital age to conduct all sorts of business electronically, but it's still nice to go to the mailbox and have something tangible waiting for you.

FRG Freedom: I remember the days of organizing a bake sale free of red tape at the motor pool and being able to plan a battery picnic with ease. While I understand the need for some of the restrictions, overall I believe that the cumbersome restrictions on fundraising and spending have really tied the hands of those who plan unit functions.

A couple of things I'm glad to see go bye-bye:

SSNs on Checks: In the old days, you couldn't purchase something at the commissary or PX without having your spouse's SSN stamped or written on it. Definitely a move in the right direction.

The Muzzle: When I married my husband, I believe the Army had just completed the transition out of the mindset that if the Army wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one. I can't personally speak to that era, but I've heard firsthand from many spouses who could, including Mrs. Casey, Mrs. Pillsbury and Mrs. Chiarelli. Today we have a voice, and it's often heard and respected.

Things I hope never change:

Formals: There is something special about formal events in the military. Putting aside the fact that it's nice to don the dress and slip on the fancy shoes once in a while, the customs and traditions that take place serve as great reminders of our roots and how the service of our spouse really and truly matters. Each action, from the receiving line to the posting of colors to the toasts which allow us to raise a glass and pay tribute to those who came before, those we've lost and those who lead our spouses, has deep, historical meaning and leaves me filled with pride that my family is a military family.

Reveille and Retreat: I'll cop to the fact that as a new wife, I totally botched this more than once. But now that I know what it means, and what to do, on those rare occasions I'm on a post, it's a great reminder of military history and traditions.

Things change. That's the way life works. Sometimes it's for the good, and sometimes it's not. Without question, we have to adapt to the changes or risk getting run over, but there's a time and place for nostalgia and it was good for me to stop and think about my milspouse journey in those terms.

What are some of your favorite and not-so-favorite retro military memories?

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