Sunday, May 31, 2015

"Souvenirs are perishable;

fortunately, memories are not."
       ~Susan Spano 

A collection of post cards of New York City that I bought at the flea market got me thinking about souvenirs.  With Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, does anyone even send postcards?  I see racks of them in shops on the Boardwalk or on the streets of New York City.  I guess there are still some who receive postcards, but I wonder if any of those people are under 80 (just kidding).   

Souvenir is French for remembrance or memory.  In doing a little research for this article, I found it interesting that there were numerous articles on how to budget souvenir cash at Walt Disney World.  Based on what I read, it seems several hundred dollars is the usual amount spent on "stuff".

The tourism industry designates tourism souvenirs as commemorative merchandise associated with a location, often including geographic information and usually produced in a manner that promotes souvenir collecting.   Think shot glasses, plates, magnets, mugs.  Ashtrays used to be big, but I guess the demise of smokers has impacted that production.  The research indicated that throughout the world that the souvenir trade is an important part of the tourism industry serving a dual role, first to help improve the local economy and second to allow visitors to take with them a memento of their visit, ultimately to encourage an opportunity for a return visit, or to promote the locale to other tourists. 
All the cards I bought had never been used, and that always fascinates me because I wonder why they were purchased...with the thought of sending them?  or for a scrapbook?  You ever wonder how many pieces for scrapbooks live their lives in shoe boxes or pretty decorated boxes never to see the light of day or a page in a scrapbook?

I like to study the backdrop in picture postcards...check the clothes in the close-up of the one card...

This group has a NYC snow scene...
Of course, the showstoppers...several of the World Trade Centers...
Don't forget the Statue of Liberty...and here I will confess to a collection of mine...Lady Liberty herself...
This is a neat photo souvenir...selfie done antique style...with a real camera and printed for us to absorb decades later.
Again, just looking at these post cards, you realize how much technology has impacted even the idea of souvenirs.  In a hundred years, what will there be?  Castoff I-phones?  I-pads?   Many of the souvenirs seen on the tables at flea markets and in vintage shops truly look as though they have come from another planet. Probably the best sellers today are the t-shirts or the sweatshirts since I do see those on both tourists and locals in our area.

Maybe Jarod Kintz has a unique look at souvenirs...hold the stuff...
"When I visit England, I want to bring back the best souvenir an American can get: A British accent."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Let every nation know whether it wishes us well or ill,

that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty. 
                                               ~John F. Kennedy                                 

Despite this weekend being the kick-off of the summer season here at the Jersey shore, it is good to remember that the beach, the Boardwalk, and the businesses are here because men and women gave their lives to maintain our freedoms.
 I happened on a copy of the sheet music for "God Bless America," and I wondered about its history.  Many of us connect the song with Kate Smith...
In my research I found that Irving Berlin wrote the song in 1918 while serving the U.S. Army at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York, but he decided that it did not fit in a revue called Yip Yip Yaphank.  Fortunately, he kept it, and in 1938, with the rise of Adolf Hitler, Berlin, who was Jewish and a Russian immigrant, felt it was time to revive it as a "peace song." It was introduced on an Armistice Day broadcast in 1938, sung by Kate Smith on her radio show.

Woody Guthrie criticized the song, which he considered unrealistic and complacent, and in 1940 he wrote "This Land Is Your Land," originally titled "God Blessed America For Me," as a response. Anti-Semitic groups such as the Ku Klux Klan also protested the song due to its authorship by a Jewish immigrant.
Berlin gave the royalties of the song to the God Bless America Fund for redistribution to the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA. Smith performed the song on her two NBC television series in the 1950s and in her short-lived The Kate Smith Show on CBS, which aired on from January 25 to July 18, 1960.

The song was used early in the Civil Rights Movement as well as at labor rallies. During the 1960s, the song was increasingly used by Christian conservatives in the US to signal their opposition to secular liberalism and to silence dissenters who were speaking in favor of communism or in opposition to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Later, from December 11, 1969, through the early 1970s, the playing of Smith singing the song before many home games of the National Hockey League's Philadelphia Flyers brought it renewed popularity as well as a reputation for being a "good luck charm" to the Flyers long before it became a staple of nationwide sporting events. The Flyers even brought Smith in to perform live before Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals on May 19, 1974, and the Flyers won the Cup that day.

Among some of the tales that relate to the song, was one from August 26, 2008 when a fan at a Boston Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium attempted to leave for the restroom during the playing of the song.  He was restrained and ejected by NYPD officers. As part of the settlement of a subsequent lawsuit, the New York Yankees announced that they would no longer restrict the movement of fans during the playing of the song.

Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, "God Bless America" is commonly sung during the seventh-inning stretch in Major League Baseball games, most often on Sundays, Opening Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, All-Star Game, Labor Day, September 11, and all post-season Major League Baseball games. Following the attacks, John Dever, then the Assistant Media Relations Director with the San Diego Padres, suggested the song replace "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", the more traditional 7th inning anthem.  MLB quickly followed the Padres lead and instituted it league-wide for the rest of the season; presently, teams decide individually when to play the song. Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium, and Turner Field are currently the only Major League ballparks to play "God Bless America" in every game during the seventh-inning stretch. 
There is actually a book on this song!  It came out July 4, 2013, and Sheryl Kaskowitz tells the story behind our "other national anthem".   The review says, "After the attacks on September 11th, it was sung on the steps of the Capitol, at spontaneous memorial sites, and during the seventh inning stretch at baseball games, becoming even more deeply embedded in America's collective consciousness."

So, remember those who died "standing beside" America and "guiding" America, may God bless them as well.
“Better to die fighting for freedom then be a prisoner all the days of your life.” 
                                                                         ~Bob Marley

Sunday, May 17, 2015

"The artist's world is limitless.

 It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep. 
~Paul Strand
In today's socially connected world, that quotation could be reworked for those of us who buy for our independent shops.  We have the advantage of seeing creative spirits from the local town to the global city.  On Facebook, some of the people do "share" days where shop owners and others can share pages.  Since there is usually a share day going on every day on someone's Facebook page, it is easy to drop in and see what people are doing.

Arletta of SewExtraOrdinarySewist made me think about the artists who create.  I saw her work on Facebook, and I inquired if she sold to shops...and...voila!  Prairie Pouches for my customers...made in America...a blend of old and new!  She designs using vintage doilies and handkerchiefs blended with new and vintage fabrics to create zippered clutches for 21st century needful things.  The ones I saw were smaller, and I asked for larger ones.  Can't call the factory in China and do that!

Etsy opened an online shopping mall in 2005 that originally focused on handmade or vintage items and supplies, and by 2013 it allowed "unique" factory-manufactured items.  In 2014, Etsy garnered a revenue of $195.6 million which is made from taking a 3.5% fee of 3.5% of sale value, which an Etsy seller pays for each completed transaction, and a listing fee of 20 Cents per item. 'Seller Services', Etsy's fastest growing revenue stream, includes fees for services such as Promoted Listings, payment processing and purchases of shipping labels through the platform. They also have a wholesale link, but I will just contact someone there and say, "love your work-do you wholesale?" Never hurts to ask!  I have been able to connect with some wonderful artists through "the box" as I call the electronic world.  I found some creative spirits there. From a woman in Oregon who uses driftwood pieces and lace to create sailboats as well as hand cutting birds and attaching to clothespins...all at reasonable prices!
 Or, how about birdhouses from Mississippi barns?
The typewriter jewelry-an Etsy find...
 Although Etsy has been a wonderful venue for artists, some of those artists have become easy marks for some big companies to copy.  Urban Outfitters and, recently, Target have been exposed for taking someone's creative work.  They know the artists have probably not paid for copyright on their work, and their attitude is file a complaint since they have deep pockets for lawyers.  An Oregon woman was recently shocked when a friend texted her a photo of a tank top that was nearly identical to hers.   She hand-printed shirts with the word #Merica within a primitive American flag on them.  Her cost $25 since she is working out of her garage...$12.99 at Target.
Americans cannot work for the same salaries as those in the Chinese factories, and so many people forget that.  Currently there are several sites online promoting buy American, and an interesting statistic from one of the sites states that $700 is spent on gifts, and, if only half were spent on made in USA, up to a million American jobs would be created.

In 1933, a Buy American Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Hoover on his last full day in office (March 3, 1933).  It required the government to prefer US products in its purchasing so this campaign is not new.

When I was researching buy American movements, I was reading about President Hoover, but this made me chuckle..."Franklin D. Roosevelt blasted the Republican incumbent (Hoover) for spending and taxing too much, increasing national debt, raising tariffs and blocking trade, as well as placing millions on the government dole."  Just like antiques, what goes around, comes around, but parties have done role reversals.

Many of the artists work other jobs and have their creative work spaces tucked into their homes. They work around their children, their significant others, and their own issues.  My card maker is dealing with personal illness now.   I have a stash of tags and cards that she sent before she was facing these issues.

Of course, my sea glass artist is a showstopper.  She lives downtown, and I have been to her creative cubby in her home.   But, again, because I can talk to her, I can have earrings to match a birdhouse, or I can ask her to create clip-ons.  

I have another jewelry maker who blends the old and the new, and she spends summers in the area so I can have her creations.

I have a soon-to-be-high school graduate learning the trade...
And a skilled craftsman who took a vintage bookcase and updated it...
He also crafted some wonderful boxes...and, again, I can say...could you do a certain color...
 or keep it with a prim look.
Bernie takes my ideas and turns them into reality...he is working on benches to accommodate some sweet cushions I got from Jeanne D'Arc.

Another local woman works with pallets...
And, I have a local artisan who old drawer bottoms made into mini chalkboards or boxes decoupaged with napkins.  Here again, I can say to Cheryl, take these unfinished boxes Bernie has made, some wonderful French napkins and create...they will be coming soon!
She has also learned to do some good woodworking...check the grey corbel hanging on the antique shutter...her design from scratch...
So, when you see the Made in America tag, think beyond the price tag...granted, not everything can be made here, but, support the small entrepreneur not just the factory worker overseas.  When you see someone's special designs and products, remember the person does not have a factory in the backyard nor do they hide their earnings in offshore accounts.   A "Prairie Pouch" holds more than stuff; it holds someone's hard work and heart.
“He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”  
~Francis of Assisia

Sunday, May 10, 2015

"To care for those who

once cared for us is one of the highest honors.”   
Tia Walker

Mother's Day 2015.  Those who have followed my journey with my mother know that I celebrated last year with her after bringing her to New Jersey from Pennsylvania.  Two hip surgeries later and rehab, she has settled into her assisted living, and I get another Mother's Day with her.
I never resist the mother collectibles...
 This was a neat chart that I saw online...if you bought something for Mom, you can match it up mother is content with candy...and since she is 88...will be 89 next Friday, I am not going to argue with her!

Total number of moms in the U.S.85.4 million
Total amount of money spent on Mother’s Day Cards annually$671 million
Total amount of money that will be spent for mothers on Mothers Day$20.7 billion
Total amount of money spent on flowers for their mothers on mother’s day$1.9 billion
The average amount American consumers will spend on mom for Mother’s Day$168.94
Percent of Mother’s Day gifts bought online28.5 %
What Mom wants to receive for Mother’s DayPercent
Something Homemade36 %
Dinner34.8 %
Greeting Card31.5 %
Gift Cards24.7 %
Flowers22.5 %
Jewelry11.2 %
Books10.1 %
Spa7.9 %
Clothing5.6 %
Music5.6 %
Movies5.6 %
Travel4.5 %
Electronics3.4 %

The US has been celebrating Mother's Day since 1908.  Anna Jarvis is recognized as the Founder of Mothers Day even though she never married and never had kids, she is also known as the Mother of Mothers Day.   Her mother felt that someone must honor all mothers, living and dead, and pay tribute to the contributions made by them. 

A loving daughter, Anna never forgot her mother's word, and, when her mother died in 1905, she resolved to fulfill her mother's desire of having a mothers day. But our British cousins celebrated Mothers Day in the 1600s.  "Mothering Sunday" was celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent to honor mothers and to pay tribute to the Virgin Mary.  
Servants, apprentices and other employees were encouraged by their employers to visit their mothers and honor them. Traditionally children brought with them gifts and a special fruit cake or fruit-filled pastry called a simnel. Yugoslavs and people in other nations have observed similar days. 

The custom of celebrating Mothering Sunday died out almost completely by the 19th century. However, the day came to be celebrated again after World War II when American servicemen brought the custom alive,  and commercial enterprises used it as an occasion for sales.  (Ever notice how Americans and commercialism go hand in hand).
We all are here because of our mothers so pay homage in your hearts to those women who gave us life!  We would not be here without them!

"Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall.  A mother's secret love outlives them all."
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Sunday, May 3, 2015

"O, the month of May, the merry month of May...

So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!
 ~Thomas Dekker
The merry month of May...there is something so dramatic about May especially for those of us who live in the northern climate areas.  I always think of ribbons in May because of the maypole.
That dance consists of pairs of boys or girls who stand around the base of the pole, each holding the end of a ribbon.  They weave in and around each other, boys going one way and girls the other until the ribbons are woven around the pole.

I am a fan of ribbons, and I have brought a small selection into the shop.  I am going to be carrying more including Midori silks.  I am sure in England today pink ribbons are waving since a new princess was born, and England is where the modern history of the ribbon begins.  
During the Middle Ages, merchants traveled across Europe selling exotic silk ribbons and expensive fabrics from the East.  Geoffrey Chaucer talks about "ribbands" in The Canterbury Tales from 1475; he describes a young maiden with a "bonnet deck'd with ribbands high.

By the 1500s, ribbons were made with finished edges, and they became a sign of nobility and luxury and were only worn by the elite.  
Some ribbons from the shop!

The gown pictured above is from Spain, 1780, and is taffeta, linen, silk with Chinese polychrome floral decoration. The neckline and front are decorated with bobbin lace shirred linen in a color alternating with shirred chiffon ribbons. The entire body, front and back is lined in pale green silk taffeta and open at the back seam that closes with three silk ribbons on each side.

In the 1800s, ribbons took over the fashion world and were readily available for the common folks in England.  This was a period where women’s clothing and accessories were overly decorated with ribbons.
Not only that, a length of ribbon could be given as a gift, used for braiding hair, decorating baskets and furniture, or for embellishing linens.  I still think a gift becomes so special when tied with a beautiful piece of ribbon.
As the demand rose, the manufacturers designed more accessories based on the ribbon styles...braids, cords, and fringes.  After World War II, the quality ribbons were not as plentiful.  Vintage ribbons are a real find, and many times vintage grosgrains are seen because they were woven from cotton and silk or cotton and rayon and were quite durable.  Traditonally, they were used on ladies bonnets and other millinery.  I have reels of vintage seam binding which easily doubles as a wonderful rayon ribbon.  I also have a variety of sari silk ribbons made from vintage Indian saris that are no longer wearable.
So, if you need a touch of ribbon or want to create your own little maypole, we can tie that up for you!
Each day comes bearing its own gifts.  Untie the ribbons."  
  ~Ruth Ann Schabacker