From the desk of Cathy, our Writer:
As a young girl in the 1970s, I blissfully read every pale-yellow-covered Little House book I could get. I walked the three mile hike to our public library once a week imagining that I was leaving my little house in the big woods, which was really an aluminum sided ranch home in a city neighborhood, venturing West like Laura Ingalls. I would discard my metal Walton’s lunch box and pack sandwiches and apples wrapped in red bandanas. I’d place them in the cleaned out old Crisco cans, my ma saved for me, to resemble pioneer lunch buckets. I’d drag my younger brother and cousin along, and all along our journey, we’d pretend to be searching for a cool stream to drink from – a park water fountain would suffice.
It seemed like it was such a long, arduous journey, but the destination was worth it. The library was a treasure chest of endless adventure to me. Living vicariously through the characters on each page, I could be like Laura and Mary wearing calico, blue dresses with aprons, attending a one-room school house, any time I opened a book.
My fascination of historical characters broadened as I read Dickens and Austen, I dreamt of having tea with Miss Havisham or dancing with Mr. Darcy. Antique stores and recreated historical sections in museums, forts, and western towns have captivated me too - how wonderful life must have been in these earlier days. I grew up to be an English and history teacher and feel fortunate to be able to share my love of history and literature with not only my students, but with my three daughters as well. I know I’ll always be drawn to the clip-clop of horse pulled carriages and lace-trimmed long dresses somewhere in time.
I met Marianne, the proprietor of Recollections, several years ago when her son was a student in my class. Right away I knew that she was a special person, just like her son. They are kind, giving, talented souls, truly. I later learned of Marianne’s business, specializing in period clothing, while my class was studying the American Homestead Act. She graciously brought in pioneer clothing for the students to wear during presentations. She later made stunning, ornate gowns for our school production of Cinderella and made a whole set of wonderful burgundy choir robes for our entire children’s choir. Her gift in design, and the talent of her seamstresses, is outstanding! Her designs, like novels, allow people to be transported and transformed into beloved characters and settings of the past.
When Marianne approached me about writing for the Recollections website, I was ecstatic! Any involvement with recreating history thrills me, and to work with her is an honor! I wrote a few articles about the Featured Victorian Ladies first. These women are fascinating too! Read all about them by clicking on the Featured Victorian Ladies link. My next assignment was to write the Meet the People of Recollections pages.
I headed out to the Recollections facility, set on a rolling country hilltop of Northern Michigan in the small town of Hawks. Blue skies, white billowy clouds, large old trees swaying in the breeze, and the sweet fragrance of summertime wildflowers set the pleasant mood and framed the picturesque property. Marianne, smiling and waving, welcomed me and gave me a tour of the two buildings where the over 1000 available items of Recollections are created, ordered, and shipped. Her staff was busily working. They cheerfully answered ringing phones, cut patterns, guided yards and yards of colorful fabrics through humming sewing machines, pressed garments, and gently packed boxes with fine-looking, flowing gowns for shipping.
Each woman shared with me that this was the best employment they had ever had and that they are most thrilled when they know that, through their efforts, they have contributed to a client’s successful event and brought joy into their lives. They also shared that they all worked together like one big family - aunts, cousins, nieces, mothers, and grandmothers – a true sisterhood of women.
Sit back, click on the links and take some time to meet some of the Women of Recollections. It is a pleasure to know them and to step back in time with them. They are the American Woman – strong, loving, daughters, moms, young, old – all beautiful.
Linda, Supervisor, Seamstress
Dianne, Seamstress and Trainer