Tag Archives: Dads

Working For My Dad’s Firm in NYC Lead to my Love of Lingerie

15 Jan

Growing up with a father in the textile industry in New York City had certain blessings. My Dad was involved in the women’s lingerie, undergarment and swim suit industry. And among his clients were some of the top names in lingerie at the time: Christian Dior, Maiden Form and many others. When Ginger Rogers started her own lingerie line, my Dad was one of her suppliers of fabrics. Gottex, the Israeli bathing suit company was his client in the late 1960s and 70s.

Dad was the ‘converter.’ He made sure that a printed fabric was made correctly. He had an artist on staff who did the colorizations if they were printing several different color combinations of the same print. He worked with textile factories in the Carolinas and Providence, Rhode Island. With his start in the embroidery manufacturer, he also knew so much about lace and embroidery.

He did very well, until the textile industry in the US started to fall under the burden of cheap imports from other countries.

But when I was in high school and college, Dad was in his most productive and expansive years. I worked in his office in the summer time. I got to know his staff and his customers, his sales men and his clients. At lunchtime I would go out and shop at B Altman’s, my favorite store. Dad would give me his credit card and I would chose items to be shipped to NJ to avoid sales tax on clothing. He paid me a small salary, but the benefits of his credit card are not to be denied.

However working with Dad brought about other benefits.   When I went away to college, his friends, who knew me, wanted to help.   One provided me with 144 pairs of panties. Do you know how popular you are when you have 144 pair of clean underwear?   I cannot tell you how many I gave away my freshman year of college.   And I will not say it was a daily event. But at least once a week, a dorm mate who heard about my stash would show up at my door, asking for a pair. You do not have to do laundry as long as you have clean underwear! I saved the day for many girls.

I carried the need for many pair of undies with me for my adult life. When my daughter went away to college, I did not send her with 144 pair of underwear, but I did send her with about 48. In my mind I had to make this same advantage for her that I had when I went to college.

My daughter and I have spent many hours at Victoria Secret searching for the perfect undergarments, lingerie and comfort clothes. Unfortunately, she never had the opportunities I had for free samples. When I started shopping with her, I realized even more emphatically what a benefit I had with my Dad’s career in with the fashion industry.

As for samples, I was the perfect Gottex sample swim suit size as well. I had multiple bathing suits that were designed and never made it to production. Then they became mine. I still remember a white bikini with hearts on it and a navy blue flowered print one-piece suit.

The bathing suit company was from Israel. Which leads up to my next underwear story. I spent my sophomore year of college in Israel. Before I went, I was once again the beneficiary of many undergarments. Did they really think I used up all those from freshman year? I guess so. Because I got lots more.

In any case, one of my father’s friend sent me four boxes of lingerie for his family and me to my dorm in Israel. When his Mom and sister came to pick up the boxes, we first opened them all, and they said, “Take what you need and what you want.” I did not want to take too much because I already had some I had brought along with me. But they were insistent.   Really, for me and for them, what was another 24 pair of panties and several nightgowns? Wow! I had the most beautiful underwear and lingerie in all of Har Hasofim, the Mount Scopus Campus of Hebrew University.

Mom's peach colored peignoir.

Mom’s peach colored peignoir.

Until my father retired, I never had to worry about buying any negligee, camisole, nightgowns underwear or slips, as well as swimsuits or swim wear cover-ups. I had the loveliest items. I was not the only one to benefit from this lingerie largesse, my Mom and sister also benefited. I still have a beautiful peach colored peignoir my Mom received as a gift from Deena of California. As my sister reminded me, we also were delighted every Hanukkah with gifts of lovely lingerie.

Bras were another story. But luckily a friend of mine’s parents own a lingerie shop, Sylvette’s, in North Bergen, where those could easily be obtained. I will admit, as a tween and teen, I was a little embarrassed to go there and see my friend’s father behind the counter. But he never made you feel uncomfortable. I think because he had the best sense of humor.

I still remember the first few times I went with my Mom. The first time I was o be fitted for a training bra. What is that all about? Can you train your chest? Not really. A few months later, we went back again for me to be fitted for a real bra. I think my friend’s Mom is the person who took me to the back room both times to measure me. Then she and my Mom had a long conversation on what would be best. There were drawers upon drawers of bras and lingerie. Eventually I got over my embarrassment and would go by myself. I loved going in there and looking at all the pretty items.

One of my honeymoon peignoirs.

One of my honeymoon peignoirs.

When I got married, the bounty from my father’s friends continued. I think I was the only bride with three peignoir sets to wear on her honeymoon. My mother and I looked them over to decide which ones I should take with me. Should I really take three? We were going on a cruise and that seemed a little too much.

I can see them in my mind. One was a creamy white satin with inlaid lace on the shoulders of the robe and the nightgown. It was designed for Saks Fifth Avenue. Another was beige chiffon. I was lost in the billowing skirt. The last was my favorite. A Christian Dior with a long cream color negligee with embroidery and a short jacket/robe.

I still have the two sets I actually took, including the Christian Dior one. They were too lovely for me to give away. I guess I am hoping to one day present them to my daughter. And after being married for almost 35 years, I am sentimental.

There are times when I can close my eyes and still see my father’s office. His artist, Christine, lives in California. I often think of her and our laughter at work. My father instilled in me a love of fine fabrics and color. The touch of cloth has meaning to me.

The ‘schmattah world,’ the ‘rag trade,’ the textile industry; the bustle and noise and mayhem of the textile industry was a vital part of my life. I am glad I spent time with my Dad at work in Manhattan. It was a wonderful time leading to a life- long love of lovely lingerie.

 

 

An earlier blog about my Dad’s embroidery shop in New Jersey:  https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/a-hudson-county-embroidery-shop-started-my-dads-career/

 

Come to the Firemen’s Festival! At Kauneonga Lake!

1 Jan

Anyone who stayed in White Lake and Kauneonga Lake in the 1950s, 1960s and early 70s remember the excitement that led up to the Fireman’s Festival. Even as I write these words I can hear the cry of the volunteer firemen as they drove up and down Route 55 and West Shore Road calling out: “Come to the Firemen’s Festival. This weekend! Come support the Firemen’s Festival.”

I still hear how they drew out the words “Fi- re- men’s – Fes-ti-val!” It was a lovely chant! And gave us so much joy when we heard it. The Firemen’s Festival was a highlight of the summer months.

Each year the volunteer firemen hosted a fundraiser on the empty lot in front of the elementary school that bordered the towns of Kauneonga Lake and White Lake. I was always so excited to go!

First were the signs around town telling us when the Firemen’s Festival would be held. Then the week before, the firemen on the truck would go through town letting us know exactly when. We all knew where.

It was an important fundraiser for these very important men (mainly men then) who helped so many!

At the Firemen’s Festival were all sorts of festival games like ring toss and hitting a weight to make it go to the top of the tower. There was a man who guessed your age.   There was food. There were prizes. There were so many people. It was a great time for all. I remember walking around with my parents and meeting up with friends, at which point we deserted our parents.   With a few dollars in your pocket you had enough money for activities to last the day.

The volunteer firemen had a significant role in the community. Now only did they fight fires, but they also came to the rescue of anyone who was in peril of drowning. At least once each summer the sirens would go off and the many trucks and cars of the volunteers headed toward the lake and the fire station. The volunteer firemen stopped whatever they were doing to help. They could not always save the person, but they tried.

They also had the firemen’s beach, which was located next to the ramp where people could put their boats in the lake on the Kauneonga Lake side. It was close to the fire station, just at the edge of the lake. It was where the firemen and their families could come to enjoy the lake.

The Firemen’s Festival was a way for them to raise the money to keep the station going and upgrade equipments as needed. They took no pay. It was just community members coming together to help. The way it is in many small towns.

Their coming together saved my father’s life in the early 1990s. There was no longer a Firemen’s Festival. The fairgrounds are now covered in knee-high weeds. But there is still a volunteer fire department.

In 1991 my Dad decided to cut some branches off the trees lining our driveway. At first my Mom and sister and her husband, Jerry, helped. But after a while, my Mom and sister decided to walk down the road to visit family. By that time the bungalow colony was closed, but people, including some family members had purchased all the bungalows. Jerry, who had poison ivy, took a nap.

Even though my Mom told my Dad to stop cutting while they were all busy, he did not listen. They are high trees. My Dad fell off the ladder and was knocked unconscious with a fractured skull.   When he did not show up to pick up my Mom and sister as planned, they called the house. They woke Jerry, who went outside and found Dad unconscious under a tree. He called 911.

The volunteered firemen responded. My sister said they saw cars flying past the bungalows and knew something was very wrong even before Jerry called them back. My Mom knew it was my Dad. My aunt or perhaps my cousins quickly drove them up to the house, where by this time many firemen and EMTs had gathered to stablize my Dad and get him to a hospital. Their cars lined our driveway.

Although he was first taken to the regional hospital in Harris, near Liberty, where he was further stabilized, his condition was so dire, he had to be taken to another hospital by ambulance. He was unconscious for a week. But he survived for another 18 years. Thanks to the firemen.

So whenever I think of the Firemen’s Festival, I always think of the firemen who years later were still helping those in need. I feel badly that the event to raise money for the firemen is no longer held. The Firemen’s Festival was a wonderful way to raise money and provide a wonderful summer activity. But with the changing nature of the bungalow colonies it was no longer feasible.

The work and the importance of the Volunteer Fire Department should never be undervalued. They deserve our thanks and high praise.

Waiting For the Dads to Arrive!

13 Nov

A weekend group dinner.

A weekend group dinner.

During the week our bungalow colony was ruled by women. Yes there was always at least one Dad up, taking his vacation and being a presence. And we did have a few grandfathers. But mostly it was the Moms running things. Taking care of us, the bungalows and any problems that arose, be it emergency medical runs due to childhood injuries, dealing with the rain and cold weather, or just disciplining children who were running a bit wild for the summer.

From Monday mornings to Thursday, life was just fun. The Moms were pretty relaxed. They played mah jong and different card games. They knitted and chatted. They took us swimming and went for walks.

They did the laundry, cleaned and went grocery shopping. It was peaceful and fun.

But on Friday mornings, life began to change. It was time to get ready for the Dads arrival. And now the Moms were really busy.

Plans were made!

Would they go to a show or a movie? Which Dad was staying up for the next week? What would they wear? Were they going to have a group dinner this weekend? We usually did. With two sets of grandparents and aunts and uncles, at least once during the weekend we all ate a meal together. (This was before we moved out of the bungalow colony and up to the ‘big’ house. After that we did not always join them for meals. )

The plans were intense. Everything had to be perfect for when the Dads arrived late on Friday.

They would work all day in the City and then drive up for the weekend. It was a weekly exodus from the city to rejoin their families in the Catskills. The traffic was intense especially in the 1950s and 60s before the new highways were built. It took at least four hours to make the journey — a trip that now takes about two hours.

The children were on high alert. You did not want to misbehave on Friday. If you did during the week, it was not too bad, you got punished by your Mom. She might say that she was going to tell Dad when he came up. But any event that happened on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday was usually forgotten. However, misbehaving on a Friday was not a good idea. Moms usually remembered that!

We all got busy cleaning the bungalow and getting back into a semblance of order. Those little cabins were hard to keep clean and neat, especially with three little children. And even more difficult on rainy weeks when we were inside most of the time.

But on Friday, it was an all out effort to make the place look beautiful and cozy.

Often we were asleep when the Dads started arriving. But sometimes a Dad got off earlier and came up in time for dinner. Most of the time we were asleep when our Dad came up. And the excitement was on Saturday morning when we got to see him in the morning.

I think, looking back, that the Moms did love their time of freedom. It was much more relaxed during the week. The weekends were more hectic with shows, shopping and family activities.

We loved seeing our Dad and playing with him. Because our grandparents owned the bungalow colony, my Dad often had extra jobs to do on the weekends. But we all helped. It was just part of life!

The excitement of waiting for the Dads was sometimes too much. We would be so excited that we sometimes cried. And often we would bet which dad would be up first!

The fun and excitement lasted for just two days. On Sunday nights and early Monday mornings the Dads would leave once again. The quiet would return to the bungalows. And the slow, summer days would return until the next Friday.

Two Wonderful Dads!

14 Jun

I was blessed with a wonderful Dad. He had a love of people, all people, with the biggest heart. He once told me that when each child and grandchild is born, you do not split what you have in your heart. No your heart gets bigger. And that was my Dad.

He loved all of us. I was his favorite oldest daughter; my sister was his favorite youngest daughter; my brother was his favorite son. And that continued with his grandchildren. Each one knew that he loved them the most and the best, along with all the other grandchildren that he loved the most and the best.

My Dad was not perfect. But when it came to giving out love, he was the best.

Along the way, he and my Mom loved not only their children and grandchildren, but also their children’s friends and their children. So many of my friends’ children called my Dad and Mom, grandma and grandpa. Some did not have grandparents of their own. Others just felt like my parents were their grandparents too.

And I have friends who saw in my Dad and Mom, substitute parents. And my parents loved them in return. My Dad was more outgoing in his attention. But my Mom always sent them holiday greeting cards and had a special word.

One of my close friends was in New York on business. I told her, “You better let my parents know. “ She did not call them.   So who did she see walking down a street in Manhattan: my Dad. He had a few words for her.

Some of our friends got to see Dad in action in the Catskills. His enjoyment in being at the house in Kauneonga Lake was legendary. And the friends who came up, be they mine or my siblings, were always welcome with love. They all got to eat steak from the grill, or perhaps be part of the Sunday morning French toast breakfast. And if you were lucky you got to ride in the boat.

Dad loved to share his stories, his advice and his hugs and love with everyone.

I think when I looked for a husband, I wanted someone like my Dad; someone who would love and nurture our children.

My husband is a much quieter person than my Dad. But he has been a great Dad. One of his early concerns, before we had children, was that he would not have enough time to be with them. As a physician, he is often busy. But he found the time.

It was my husband who often gave them a bath, singing “Rubber Ducky” in a great imitation of Bert and Ernie. My husband has a great singing voice. He once won a talent contest on a cruise ship singing Rubber Ducky!

It was my husband who read to them every night before bed, when he was home. My reading was never accepted. My husband had voices for every character. I loved listening to him read as well. He read the entire child’s encyclopedia to my daughter. My son wanted dinosaur and lizard books.

He read every Harry Potter book to them. Even when they were in High School, they wanted him to read these books! He would lie in our bed, with our children in the room, reading for an hour or two. When he said, “That’s enough for tonight,” they would beg for more. Sometimes he gave in.

There were a few books he learned to hate. He had read “Pippi Longstocking” so many times to our daughter, that he hid it on a high shelf. He is 6’3” so it was easy for him. Years later, my daughter and I were cleaning bookshelves, and there it was. “Mom, Look! “Pippi Longstocking”! It didn’t get lost,” she said to me when she found it   I just laughed. What could I say?

Because he had such a busy schedule, I often took my children to lunch with him at the hospital where he worked. Wednesdays in the summer time was lunch date with Dad. We would pick up his favorite sandwich and spend some time with him. They loved it.

When they were older, my children had a dinner date with their Dad each week. Tuesdays were my daughter’s date night. They would try out all sorts of different restaurants and report back. She was in seventh or eighth grade when they started going out.   Wednesdays were my son’s night. Our son was younger, so they spent much time at a local pizza place. Those meals were usually a bit shorter.

As a freshman in high school, my daughter came home one day with an important comment. “Mom,” she said seriously. “I feel bad for some of the girls I eat lunch with. They never go out to dinner with their dads.”

They had been talking about parents, and my daughter had told them about her Tuesday night dinner dates with Dad. Several of the girls commented on how they would love it if they could have dinner with their dads.   My daughter thought all dads had dinner with their children.

My husband does not think he was the best dad. He was often busy or out of town. But when he was home, he was engaged and showed them attention. We took our children on trips all over the world. He taught them about the night sky because of his love of astronomy. He loved to teach and share his knowledge.

I am so fortunate to have had two wonderful Dads in my life: my father, who was a great Dad to me, and my husband who has been a great Dad to our children.

They are different in many ways, but the love they have for their children is the same.

I hope all Dads have a wonderful Fathers’ Day.