The other day, I was in the store straightening up the linens and repackaging some lace that someone had left out, when a woman came in a started browsing. I greeted her and she replied in kind then without another word, went about her browsing seemingly with purpose. I went back to my straightening up and yet occasionally I could hear her softly chuckling to herself, as she would pick up one tablecloth or drapery at a time. Soon, she started fingering the napkins and then the bed linens; all the while softly talking to herself or, as I said before, softly chuckling. Eventually she got close to me and I commented, “Beautiful aren’t they?” She looked at me and with a slight twinkle in her eye said, “Oh my, do I sound like an idiot? I’m so sorry, but I must sound like an old nut job. When I came in here earlier this week, I had to stop myself from smiling out loud. I keep forgetting that other people are around.” I told her not to worry, that she didn’t sound like a nut, when she continued to explain, “It’s the linens dear, the lace, they so much remind me of when I was a little girl, helping my mother wash and press the linens. Every Wednesday was our wash day and my job was to iron and fold the little tea napkins and kitchen towels, when I wasn’t in school.”
I could see the memories in her eyes as she very carefully folded each towel back up and neatly placed it back on to the stack. I could tell she was doing it the same way she did as a child. Rose (that was her name) eventually bought two 50’s hand towels and a couple of lace dress tops I had salvaged. She said she was going to make a gown with a lace top for her granddaughter. As I thanked her for her purchases, she stopped me and said, “No, thank you for the memories. I’m going back home at the end of this week, and this little shop has added a special memory to my trip.
I have to admit that prior to Rose coming in, as I was ‘cleaning’ up after people, I had asked myself if all the work I put into this shop was worth it. In one brief encounter, Rose made it all worthwhile. Thank you Rose – wherever you are. You are the reason I collect and sell vintage linens. You managed to put a smile on my face on a day when I needed it the most.