By Jeanne Robertson
I save stuff. Not valuable stuff in the financial sense of the word. Just
things that bring back happy memories. I throw away nothing. My
pack-rat habits have brought on much ribbing through the years, mainly from my husband. But his objections have never fazed me. I've continued to stash as though on a mission, and the day of the mission finally arrived.
Viola! Exonerated! It feels good. Real good.
After speaking to the Graham, North Carolina, Historical Society, a woman named Gail Knauff showed me an eight-by-ten framed photograph from my Miss North Carolina days. She and her husband had recently written the history of Haw River. Now they and others in the community were actively involved in putting together the Haw River Historical Museum.
She had run across this photo and thought the gown I had on was made of corduroy. If I remembered the dress and it was indeed made of corduroy, did I happen to know if it was Cone Mills corduroy? That would mean it had been made at the Cone Mills plant in Haw River and that they wanted to hang the picture in the new museum. Could I help her?
Oh boy, could I help her. It was the day I had been waiting for. Yes, I told her. The dress was made of corduroy. Yes, the material had been made at the Haw River Cone Mills plant. Yes, put the photo in the museum, and - ta-da! - did she want the gown? How about the matching shoes?
Around 2:00 a.m., I located the thirty-four-year old corduroy gown piled in with some psychedelic-looking bell bottoms. Forty-five minutes later, the matching shoes fell out of my college physical education uniform.
Of course, things don't ever run as smoothly as they sound. In preparation for the big donation, Gail discovered that the Haw River Historical Society's mannequin had only half a body. If she had the bottom half of the thing, the bosom and shoulders of the gown would fall over to one side. If she had the top half, the skirt would bunch up around the waist. Either way, the mannequin would be shorter than six-foot-two.
By the time the donating night rolled around, however, Gail had obtained a whole body from Margaret's dress shop in Burlington.
To be accurate - and I certainly strive to be - I must report that the mannequin's feet were a little smaller than mine. When we eased her down into my shoes, ever careful not to knock off her blonde curly wig, the mayor of Haw River got on the floor to steer the feet into place. Seconds later
he looked up and said, "Bring me a bunch of rags. There's a whole lot of space to fill in these big shoes."
You'd think my husband would have been excited about my donation, but no.
Jerry said he'd get excited when somebody took my high school clothes.
If you're looking for something to do in Alamance County, please do drop by the museum in Haw River. If the mannequin looks tipsy, stuff some papers in the shoes. The Historical Society would be thrilled if you used dollar bills.
Jeanne Robertson, professional speaker and author, can be reached through
Photo by Kleeberg Studio.