“In Dust-hood and Goggles”

My Grandparents, Raleigh and Elsie Johnson of Wichita, Kansas with their first car.

Currently I’m reading Edith Wharton’s brilliant The House of Mirth (1905). I came across this phrase–see below–which reminded me of the above photo of my Grandmother and Grandfather with their first car, and my grandparents each wearing their own version of  “dust-hood and goggles.”  The first cars didn’t have windshields, therefore glasses of some kind were a necessity.

..Mr. Gryce was touched by her disinterestedness, and, to escape from the threatened vacuity of the afternoon, had taken her advice and departed mournfully, in a dust-hood and goggles: as the motor-car plunged down the avenue she smiled at his resemblance to a baffled beetle.

One reason that I love this book so much is that I can identify with the lead character, Miss Bart.  I feel that I really understand her.

Family Research

I once did family research on Ancestry.com, trying to find out something about my father’s side of the family. I found out that I’m related to a family of English origin named Downes. The Downes were a prominent family in Denton, Maryland. The patriarch of the family fought in the civil war, so I’ve just learned from an email I received from a woman who is also from the Downes family. She said that she came across my great-grandfather’s name, but I’m not even sure what that was. Anyway, I went back on Ancestry.com attempting to do more research, and I only came up with more confusion. I’m not sure any more if I’m a distant Downes relative or not. This is one of the things my mind is preoccupied with right now. For so many years, I’ve had such a dearth of relatives that finding out that I have some family ties, no matter how distant, makes me feel a little less lonely–in a small way. It’s like an orphan discovering that they have had a family in the past. However, the whole thing is a little iffy until I can find out more. I’m beginning to think that I may only be related to the Downes through my step-grandmother on my father’s side, which isn’t being blood related.

Grandmother with friends in Wichita, Kansas cerca 1914
Grandfather, Raleigh (Homer) Johnson with the joy of his life.

2 thoughts on ““In Dust-hood and Goggles”

  1. I would like to correspond with the author of the part that talks to reading Edith Wharton. My wife and I just visited Wharton’s home (The Mount) and I bought The House of Mirth and came across the same quote, “dust cover and goggles.”
    My quesiton is this: Did people as late as 1922 still wear dust covers (what are they) and goggles? Oldsters then (1922) may have still worn them, but I am not sure.


    1. Dust hood and goggles were worn in cars before glass wind shields were put into cars. The dust hood is a cap to keep bugs from flying in the hair. I’m not sure when cars started having glass wind shields and cars became entirely enclosed. I’m not sure of the date of my photo in this post, but surely in the 20’s.


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