An Elegant Evening At An Embroidery Convention

15 Nov

Dressed for an elegant evening out, my parents are 28 years old in this photo.  My Dad was the co-owner of an embroidery shop in New Jersey. (See blog below.). In this photo they are at an embroidery convention.  When I look at them, I am amazed at how young they are here!

My mother’s lovely handwriting on the back says, May 1957, Laurel’s Embroidery Convention.  The dress my Mom is wearing is totally embroidered.  It is a fabric made in my Dad’s shop.  I have vivid memories of this dress, as it hung in the basement closet forever.  It was either a pale beige or rose color in my memory. The skirt was perfect for twirling.  How do I know?  Because my sister and I loved to play dress-up with this dress!

My Mom is also wearing my Grandmothers mink jacket!  In May!  But wearing a mink jacket is the height of elegance in those days.  However, I have to laugh because above her head is a basketball hoop.  So although the party was elegant, they had to walk through a sports area to get to the dinner event.

I remember hearing of the Laurel’s. It must have been a convention center/meeting place in New Jersey, probably in Secaucus, New Jersey, near Laurel Hill, also known as Snake Hill.(See info below.)  Over the years, the hill has been decimated as the highways were built and some of the rock was taken out when quarries were allowed there. But a little bit of the hill still remains!  It can be seen at Laurel Hill County Park and from the New Jersey Turnpike.

My Dad is dressed up as well in a really nice suit.  Dad was an elegant dresser.  He purchased shoes in Europe when he traveled.   He always worked in the fashion industry and looked the part.  He had so many suits and shirts and ties.  When he passed away, many of his grandchidren and I took a few of his ties to keep as a memory.  He had ties of every hue and color. His closet was a rainbow of shirts and ties. Everything organized and ready for the next fashion statement.

The one element of this photo that does offend me is the cigarette in my Dad’s hand.   My siblings and I hated his smoking.  We often had major battles over this.  Like the time I flushed his cigarettes down the toilet.  Or when my brother hid all his extravagant cigars behind the books on the top shelf of the bookcases. Dad never found them!  But cigarettes were a part of life in the 1950s.

My sister was not alive when my parents went to this convention. I was 2 and my brother was 3. Which means, I am sure, my grandparents were babysitting for us, as we were still living in an apartment above their bakery in West New York, New Jersey. (See blog below.)

I have to add an update! Thanks to a reader, I now know that the Laurels was a big hotel in the Catskills. A competitor to Grossingers, it was one of the largest hotels. So I am sure my grandparents were taking care of us, but we might all have been in the Catskills staying at our home in Kauneonga Lake while my parents went to this convention. The Laurels were located near Monticello in Sullivan County!

Photos really bring back memories. It brings back memories of my father’s embroidery shop in West New York, NJ.  Embroidery was a big business in the USA in the early and mid 1900s.  Now there is nothing left of these many shops!  Though I do not remember this event per se, I do remember my parents dressing up for other events.  I do remember the dress and the mink jacket.  Those memories bring me happiness in this time of staying home during the pandemic.

6 Responses to “An Elegant Evening At An Embroidery Convention”

  1. Amy November 15, 2020 at 3:32 pm #

    Twenty-eight, two kids, owned a business—today, we think of 28 year olds almost like adolescents. Kids aren’t even getting married until their thirties—at least!

    It’s funny. If you saw the post I did on Facebook today about my father, the old photo of him shows him holding a cigarette. He was a chain smoker from the time he was a young teen until 1980 when he got pneumonia and quit cold turkey. It’s amazing he lived to 92.

    • zicharon November 15, 2020 at 5:10 pm #

      I did see your post. My Dad stopped in 1974. His best friend got lung cancer and so Dad also stopped cold turkey. Unfortunately he had COPD that developed when he was in his 70s. Sigh.

      • Amy November 16, 2020 at 9:58 am #

        My dad also had COPD. 😦

      • zicharon November 16, 2020 at 10:47 am #

        It makes an impact on their health. We grew up adamant non-smokers!

  2. Joel Lewis November 15, 2020 at 6:10 pm #

    Nice memory! My dad and pretty much all the dads in our group were in the embroidery business. ANd it really dominated the North Hudson/south Bergen County area. The only person I knew who took over a parents business was Betty Weintraub, who maintained her father’s embroidery supply business for a while. Most parents I knew threatened to sell their businesses rather than have their kids take over. It was tough work, often 12 hour days, sometimes 7 days a week. I did an article 20 years ago for the Jersey Journal on the embroidery business, it was just a shadow of wa it was — though most shops werethen owned by Moslem/Arab immigrants–another immigrant community taking it on. What is rarely mentioned in histories of the Catskills is that tthat most of the crowd who came in the 50s/arly 60s were involved in the garment business — it was at at its apogee in the US with little foreign competition. The men could schmooze and make deals with others in the trade while their families could frolic. Everyone in the emroidery business took the first two weeks in July off because the big bleachery that took the backing nylon off the finsihed patterns closed for vacation and so did all the shops

    • zicharon November 15, 2020 at 6:51 pm #

      Exactly! My Dad remained in the garment industry. I have written other blogs about him. And about the summer I worked for him. But really the industry really fired because of cheap labor in other countries.

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