June 12, 2009

Woven Brooms, Dreams and Stitches


Promise (Noun)
A declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or
that guarantees a particular thing will happen.

My grandfather believed that the promised outcome of working in a broom factory, to afford attending college, would result in a better chance for success. It was the early 1900's and he traveled from TX to the Sue Bennett College in KY where he took courses in mathematics during the day and worked at the broom factory by night. Upon completion of college he returned home to work as the traveling bookkeeper/auditor for a chain of TX dry-goods stores, Perkins Bros, owned by his great Uncles. His prospects looked good; he was hard working, honest and receiving accolades from his employers through the years.

My grandmother, who was also hard working, smart and a skilled seamstress was employed by Perkins Bros as well. She had been with them for quite some time and came to know my grandfather during his periodic trips to town. Sharing a mutual respect for each others skills and independence they built a friendship, then courted and fell in love. In 1910 they married on the banks of the Sabine. She wore a lovely lace trimmed white dress with a tall white hat which must have required good balance. He wore a dapper suit, stylish hat and broad smile. The next day they made the journey to Dallas to share the news with my grandfathers Uncles. Imagine my grandparents surprise when told, due to their marriage, my grandfather would be replaced. The Uncles believed being married would interfere with his required travels for the store chain.

I'm not sure if the brothers Perkins thought my grandfather would rearrange his circumstances to suit their "single auditors only" rule or not. Regardless, once he had fulfilled his commitment to them, he was off to CA in search of new opportunities. When a position was secured my grandmother joined him and they settled in a town where once again they worked for the same company, Kutner and Goldsteins. They dreamed of opening their own business one day and saved every possible penny for that purpose. As they were getting close to achieving their goal World War I called. Like everyone else's plans, theirs were placed on hold while my grandfather headed to France.

Once safely home from the war, my grandparents began again to work toward their dream. Finally, with a little money and determination they began the first of what became a small chain of shoe stores known for excellent service, quality and treating their employees with respect. Involved in their community, family and business, they happily worked side-by-side for forty plus years. The early weaving of brooms, dreams and stitches made that promised success real.

Oh yes... the oft repeated store motto? Don't spend your life two feet from happiness!
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Brooms - An Aside
I have long admired brooms. Odd maybe but true. Beyond their wonderful shapes, textures, colors and detail, I marvel at their enduring simplicity and usefulness. Unlike WalMart's impact on small business, the vacuum has not eliminated the broom. Dirt floors to marble, terrazzo to wood, we are still sweeping away when the circumstance calls for it. Brooms remain a kind of hold on the past and the quiet repetitive process of using one can seem almost um... meditative.

The brooms pictured above and in another recent post about Idaho are varied in their styles, sizes and age. Many are contemporary while others are vintage versions captured in antique stores. These photos were taken in WA, CA and ID.

For a bit of broom history try THIS. To see an old broom machine go HERE. Some beautiful brooms are found at this SITE. And lastly, many of the long handled colorful brooms pictured above are made in Thailand by a Fair Trade company. Search Thailand brooms and you will find them on numerous sites.

2 comments:

Basket gal said...

Enjoyable story...thanks for sharing it. Great motto to live by too! Your photos are great and they continue to inspire me.

Sea Mist and Sunsets said...

Ditto on the inspiration Basket gal. That motto reflects my grandfathers combination of spirit and good old Irish humor. More on him later. He was quite a wonderful character.

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