My son and I recently went on a tour of some Civil War battlegrounds and buildings that were original to that time period. It didn't take me long to notice that everywhere we went that day, every time I had to open a door to go through it, the doors in these old buildings were incredibly heavy. They weren't overly large, but made from very stout and strong wood which made them quite heavy. Simply opening a door to go from one room to the next was a challenge to me most of the day. My son had to help me with them several times. I have to wonder if that is where the tradition of men opening doors for women stemmed from? If buildings in the past were built such that most, if not all, the doors were as heavy as I encountered on our tour that day it would make perfect sense. Your average run of the mill door that can be picked up at Lowe's or Home Depot now days is made of very light weight material that didn't even exist back then. They used heavy, good quality wood. And believe me, you could tell the difference when opening them! Combine the weight of the doors with the width of women's dresses of yesteryear (with hoops, etc poofing them out) and I can certainly understand why it would have been almost impossible for ladies to open doors on their own!
Well, we may not have hoop dresses or extremely heavy doors anymore but I am certainly glad this is one tradition that has not died out. At least in our region, men still open doors for women on a regular basis and the women thank them. Let's hope it continues!