“Aqua Net hairspray. Sitting here in my front room 20 years later, I can still remember how that hairspray smells. Exactly how the aerosol can looked and felt in my hand. How I always thought it was fun to touch Grandma’s hair because no matter how I smooshed it, it would bounce right back. She had typical grandma hair, permed and then teased to be sort-of a helmet, secured with Aqua Net spray. As she got older, her hair thinned until she started wearing a wig. It made her embarrassed to be seen without it, so when she wasn’t wearing it she would wear a little terry cloth turban on her head. I didn’t care if she had a turban, a wig, or poofy grandma hair. She was lovely. My sister took the can of hairspray from her cabinet as a memoir, and she still has it. Sometimes, when I see it at her house, I pick it up and smell the lid. It’s amazing how smell takes you back to places and people.”
“Working with a new collection is always an adventure! Speaking of adventures…
My Grandpa was a pastry chef, and so when big food holidays like Thanksgiving rolled around, he was inclined to take charge. But Grandma would have none of it. She insisted that he could spend Thanksgiving morning making “monkey bread” out in his bake shop while she made the meal without interference, doing it just right, her way. She made the most amazing stuffing (a recipe we still use to this day–prep begins a week before!) and pies. Oh the pies. I loved that most of the time she was happy for him to be the baker, but when traditions were on the line, she got just as assertive as she needed to be. Thanksgiving was always delicious–the pies, stuffing, AND monkey bread.”
“Grandma had many pins, necklaces, and earrings, but none held a candle to the oh-so-fascinating pearl drop earrings. They consisted of a pearl on each side of an extremely delicate chain. Each pearl could screw off the small post it was attached to so that the post could be put into the ear and the pearl could be screwed back on. Then, the earring was pulled so the pearls dropped from the chain from either side of her ear lobe. These earrings both fascinated me and grossed me out just a little. I loved them, in a horrified way. My Grandma would always chuckle when I told her that and said “They don’t hurt at all, honey, see?” And then she’d pull them just a little and chuckle at my shivers.”
“Grandma’s home backed up to a large pumpkin field when I was young, and that pumpkin field extended all the way to the main road in our city, State Street. Once a year, on Memorial Day, we were allowed to open the back gate and haul large buckets full of Iris and Peonies out to the road front and sell bundles of flowers to those heading to honor their loved ones. The rest of the year, the gate stayed firmly shut, and nearly hidden from view by the enthusiastic Virginia Creeper vines that grew all along its’ face. The vines were our weather vane in a way, telling us what season it was. When they were mostly grey sticks, it was winter of course. We knew spring was coming by the bright green leaves finally showing. Our view of the pumpkin patch was entirely obscured when summer was at its’ peak, and fall brought the leaves to a delicious blazing red. Grandma kept those vines “to hide the road” she said, and later when a strip mall went in behind her house, they were even more welcome.”
“My grandma called me “honey”. Whenever I came to her house–which was often, she lived just a mile or two away–she would pat the seat next to her on the couch and say “Com’mere honey.” Then she’d take one of my hands in both of hers and squeeze it, and ask how my day was. Ask about school. Friends. Boys. Anything and everything. She would push on the tops of my fingers to feel if I had any fingernails growing at all–I was a voracious nail-biter–and congratulate me if there was the slightest growth. She’d say “Oooohhh these are going to be so pretty! Just you let them grow!” And then she’d pat my hand and change the subject. As a grown woman, I still feel the tops of my fingernails and feel proud of myself.
Sweet Marion fabric ships February 2017. I’d love to compile a list of shops carrying it, so I can refer inquiries. Would you let me know if you’ve ordered it?