I sometimes get to know something of the women from whom I acquire vintage clothing.

I’ve written about Jacqueline, the mother of a very good friend of mine (I love my vintage clothing sources)

Juana, who worked as a model for one of Spokane’s department stores (Another favorite source)

Helen, a philanthropist (An ode to Helen South Alexander and A tiny fraction of Mrs. Alexander’s clothing)

I woman I only know through her grand niece (The suitcase lot)

Mrs. Gordon, whose husband was blinded in WWII yet she dressed to the nines (You’re a sight to see, Mrs. Gordon!)

Alice, about to be married for the second time at the wonderful age of 85+ (Lovely lady lot)

Betty, who was a manager at one of Spokane’s department stores (She’s a Betty)

There are more, and they have been so gracious to me. I have many unofficial grandparents!

I think of Ruby, who made her own clothes with impeccable skill and cried when I offered her money for the clothing, which she was just going to “put out on the curb.” All 100+ pieces of it!

Mrs. Walls, who had “forgotten she had all these clothes” in her basement

Shirley, who let me come to her garage sale way out in the country a day early because she figured no one would care about the clothes (there were enough to open a store)

There was the gentleman whose wife had passed away and he was finally ready to let go of some of her clothing. He gave me a fantastic set of highballs he bought at the 1963 Seattle World’s Fair when he found out I’d grown up in Seattle.

One man I met had just purchased and laid down a load of stones to make his driveway a little smoother for my visit. His wife had been a manager of better sportswear at a department store in Spokane. We talked quite a bit because my father played jazz trombone and he had a boatload of jazz albums and played jazz himself. He asked me where I thought he got his accent and I guessed New York. He said Chicago, which is his nickname. He came to Spokane when he was 12 and he is now 105. 

Then there was Elaine who was sweeping her walk when I first met her. She is African American and came to Spokane on V-J Day, September 2, 1945. Her clothes were so precisely cared for and pristine that they were as if new.

There are many more. One that truly haunts me was an Italian-American model whose daughter offered me her mother’s clothing. She had wonderful items, including this Howard Greer dress. I happened to see her photo and she was one of the most beautiful women you could possibly imagine. She had died estranged from her family and had a very hard life, including alcoholism. Her clothing was very well kept and of spectacular design.

I like to think that we perpetuate these people through carrying their stories—and their clothing—forward.