When I was a child, long, long ago. It was common to receive a pretty hankie in an envelope along with a card. Being raised sorta on 'the other side of the tracks' (meaning that I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth), I thought, what in the world was I supposed to do with this? Not actually wipe my nose... It was too pretty and it would lose it's starchy stiffness, and besides, it scratched. As a kid, my sleeve was just too handy. On special days - like 'hot lunch' day at school, my mother always put my quarter in the corner of a hankie, tied it up and then pinned it to the inside of my pocket. I must have not been too trust-worthy...
Now, in contrast, or whatever, my aunts always carried about -- disclaimer if you are faint...are you prepared for this? a "snot rag". They were small fabric squares, just the size of a hankie, and they had a stack of them in their laundry closet! I remember folding them as they were often laundered...hmm, they would be over 100 years old now (my aunts, not the hankies) ... now, I want to make it clear that they had proper hankies when they went out in polite society.
My grandmother had a 'hankie' tucked into her sleeve. But, these were days when a trip to the store meant you wore a hat, you dressed up to 'run to the bank'. (Do you remember when there were 'banking hours'?) Men wore a hat and 'doffed' it at lady's presence. And they always carried not one, but two hankies, one to use and one to give to a needy young lady or spread on a bench for them to sit on. Oh, the days, no jeans and T-shirts then.
How about the crime being solved because of the monogram in the corner of the hankie that was left at the scene of the crime?
I think that hankies were part of the 'well-dressed' young lady's wardrobe.
Now, we have advanced - we use disposable tissues. I'm sure they cut back on passing along colds, coughs and viruses. But, they are certainly not as pretty. Can you imagine a young man retrieving a dropped 'kleenex'? Or, saving it in his "handkerchief drawer" to remind him of his lost love?