Saturday, December 29, 2007

beautiful things

"We are told that talent creates it's own opportunities, but it sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only it's own opportunities, but it's own talents."
- Eric Hoffer


My grandmother got in line twice when they were handing out vanity. Perhaps vain is not the correct word because she wasn't conceited or narcissistic at all. She did care very much how she looked and loved more than anything to dress to the nines. Perhaps this came from the fact that she was very overweight and very poor as a child. She simply seemed to get lost in the shuffle between her two very attractive sisters.

She lost the weight and took a job in a factory during World War II. The factory wasn't a very glamorous place but her entire life outside the factory was nothing but glamour. Her and her friends went to all the famous nightclubs in Chicago. She always seemed to draw the most fascinating people into her life including a wildly bohemian friend who was the original "home alone" mom leaving her pre-teen children to fend for themselves while she flew off to Cuba with a bullfighter. She knew that my grandmother would care for her children in her absence but honestly, do characters like that still exist today?

My grandmother was immensely creative and was known at the time as a premier milliner. I'd watch her sitting in her boudoir (in every romantic sense of the word), transforming stiffened buckram hat forms into confections of fabric, beads, lace and flowers. She rarely went anywhere without a beautiful hat and gloves, a proper watch and jewelry. She kept the most fabulous dressing table, worthy of any Hollywood starlet.

It seemed to me from my perspective as a child that this was her way of keeping beauty in her life each and every day. I continue some of her traditions in a less flamboyant sense but I do make an effort. The photo above includes a lovely bottle of "Goddess" cologne, my grandmother's vintage Weiss brooch and a jeweled box I purchased at a craft sale.

ABOUT THE QUOTE - I studied Eric Hoffer in the '70's and he remains an immensely fascinating subject. I believe his quote speaks to my grandmother's life. He believe that people worked hard not only to bring themselves out of poverty but to get themselves some nice baubles.

Tomorrow is going to be very exciting as we ramp up for New Year's. You're not going to believe how we celebrate in corn country!


Mary said...

What a gorgeous brooch, and what a terrific story -- your grandmother sounds like quite a character.

Zanne said...

Mary - the brooch is a real treasure. My grandmother was definitely a character and my childhood was filled with such people. It makes the present day seem kinds of "white bread" if you know what I mean. Thanks for visiting!

Marfa said...

Your grandmother sounds like my kind of people. I also have own vanity table, but its nowhere near as flamboyant as hers. I have a vintage set vanity set that includes the mirror, comb and brush. I also have a runner made up of 4 ladies' handkies and sewed together by hand and three of my collectible barbies. Oh...and I have a little round crocheted doily made by my mom's cousin. My granda also had a vanity table and I used to sit at it for hours as a kid and play with her make and hair stuff. I wish every woman knew the delights of a vanity table of her own.