In our parish the major changes took place in 1965 and it seemed that every couple of months after that there was another change. I was in grade 6 and remember spending my winter lunchtimes with the grade 7 Sister, learning these new French responses – I lived in a Francophone parish in Canada.
Contrary to some here, we never experienced dialog Masses in our area prior to going to the vernacular. The idea of the person in the pew speaking in church was foreign to us so it took a long time before you heard much more than a mumble from the congregation. On that first Sunday, finding that people were not responding loudly enough, I made it my mission to lead them, much to my mother’s mortification. She kept grabbing at my sleeve and repeating “Pas si fort!” (Not so loudly!)
For what it’s worth, the Kleenex on the head was very much part of my life and that continued until the late 60s. It’s not true that women stopped wearing hats & veils in the 50s – heck, in North America veils only started appearing after Jackie Kennedy wore one to the Vatican in 1962. Hats were ubiquitous at Mass pretty much until hats ceased to be part of a woman’s wardrobe for other occasions – mid 60s? Oh if you couldn’t afford a hat there was always a kerchief or a beret but even my mother wore a hat even if most of her other clothes were hand-me-downs from her sisters. At some point in the mis 60s small triangular scarves with ties like these, became very popular and we generally had one in our school bag for visits to the church for Mass or Confession.
I should say that to this day in the parish where I grew up nobody but the choir sings. It’s simply not encouraged. We have never had a hymnal in the pews and they change what they sing so often that nobody really has a chance to learn by repetition. The odd time that a visitor comes and sings along because they happen to be singing something he/she knows it will be commented about positively if the person had a great voice, but they aren’t so kindly if it’s an average voice or, like mine, the voice of someone who just likes to sing but to whom pitch and key are foreign words.
I must say that as a tween I was thrilled with the changes, but by the time I was in my twenties I’d come to realize just what we’d lost when they took sledgehammers & saws to the high altar and altar rails.
There a things I can’t blame on Vat. II. Before it started I was noticing my older cousins and their friends no longer going to Mass. Where their dads and uncles had only gone out on the steps during the sermon for a smoke, they just didn’t bother to go to Mass at all. The world was changing so quickly and The Church was starting to be irrelevant to them.