V is for Valise

New Thoughts on Words


Aging & Attitude

Valise, I like its sound. Valise is of French origin from the Italian word valigia and reminds me of my grandfather. Pop-Pop called a small piece of luggage a valise. Something larger was a trunk, as in steamer trunk, the type slapped with vacation stickers and seen on cruise ships, headed towards the old country.

The definition of valise is a small overnight bag, a size manageable with one hand by ladies. Today’s equivalent would be a tote or backpack

My grandfather said, “Where’s your valise?” Never asked what was inside or if I had everything. We were treated as adults but I recall instructions on how to fold pressed dresses with tissue paper to prevent creases during travel. It works.

What was in the valise?

A toothbrush, no toothpaste, that was provided by the host. Other toiletries were not necessary, we bathed once a week at home and shampooed our hair at the kitchen sink with bar soap if need be. I did not need six different skin care products to prevent face wrinkles, nor numerous medications.

What was in the valise?

Perhaps one extra pair of underwear but pantyhose washed, rolled in a hand towel, and left in the bathroom to dry overnight. Certainly, I packed a nightgown and house coat not to be indecent.

What was in the valise?

Probably an extra sweater, put under your coat when real cold. We wore a scarf around the neck. The scarf protected the coat collar from grime and make-up, and doubled as a head cover. If the weather turned hot, the sweater replaced your coat.

Life was simple.

Make-up consisted of  blue eye shadow, pink lipstick, and white nail polish and stored in a handbag, along with a rain hat, two aspirin and a wallet.

What was in my wallet?

An orange library card, five dollars, and yes, my social security card.

I may have carried a bubble umbrella.

What was in your valise?

….just saying

13 thoughts on “V is for Valise

  1. This is a reader’s experience that was sent email via email , Thank you D

    My valise held a small bar of soap in a little plastic case, shampoo & conditioner poured into small plastic bottles, a little tube of toothpaste, a toothbrush, hair curlers & bobby pins, barrettes, deodorant, a small packet of scented powder, as many pair panties and bras as days I would be away (I hated doing hand wash – still do), a nice pair of slacks and a couple of fresh blouses, a few handkerchiefs, and, of course, a scarf for each outfit and, most important, at least two paperback books.

    I wore a blazer and carried a lined raincoat in case it rained or got chilly. I had a little plastic rain bonnet in my purse, which also held cash, subway tokens, keys, an eyebrow pencil, and probably the same blue eyeshadow and pink lipstick you wore, a little tube of gel blush (a sample size from whatever cosmetic company was giving them away – as was all my travel makeup,) a handkerchief, a pen several pencils, a small pad of drawing paper, subway tokens, a small penknife, a miniature screwdriver that was a phillips head on one side and a flat head on the other, a small tape measure, a paperback book, band-aids, a miniature stapler (freshly filled), a folding scissors, and a sewing kit. In later years, I also carried a jeweler’s loupe (still do – although I have jettisoned most of the other items). Just sayin’…

    BTW – I carried handkerchiefs because my mother was too “frugal” to buy tissues. (By frugal, I mean cheap.) I still have many of those handkerchiefs. I’m thinking of framing some of them.


  2. I just love your posts. I, too carried a valise when visiting family or going overnight somewhere special and the contents were similar all except the nail polish, mine was clear and slightly pink, just enough to give a little shine, but not be “vulgar”. Ah the “old” days…


    • Kathy, Things are good here in Florida. Thanks for asking, my writing challenge is to find a word for the letter x. The only x that strikes a cord is X Marks the Spot, perhaps a laundry stain. Any thoughts.


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