| It is with tremendous pride I share this special event in our family....my mother has reached a wonderful milestone...She is 80 years old today and we are celebrating together with my three sisters in Paris! I am excited to share this buying trip with my wonderful Mother...THE ORIGINAL SHOPPER! Shopping antiques shows with my Mom was my first exposure and I have her to thank for peaking my interest in this world that has become such a complete joy in my life. We would walk the antique shows and she would pick up some random indistinguishable item and be able to tell me exactly what it was used for long before she was born. Her explanations to me always included great stories of how people worked, the scenarios explained around the actual item and I drank in each historical point. From marrow spoons to cherry pitters she still is the "life line" choice in our extended family when someone needs to know the answer to something, ANYTHING!!!.....she rarely is stumped! She taught me how to negotiate best pricing and the excitement, the history and beauty in the world of antiques.
She was a talented artist and pianist.....I remember lying underneath the piano while she played and played at home...
Pictured here at college with my Grandmother...she then
went on to become a medical technologist.
Such a cutie!
Harder to believe than my mother becoming 80 is that in June my parents
will be married for 60 YEARS!!! She should be canonized!
I just love this picture....I think it's a Graduation party. My Dad is holding the yearbook with his pipe and bowtie as my Mom looks on to the right. So glamorous, love her poise! Notice the beer on the table is in a pilsner glass.....such class, even outdoors....much better then SOLO cups, no?
In going through pictures there were so many of "committee ladies"and my mother
(on the left) always had the same pose. Long before the red carpet "hand on hip" she knew how to pose for a picture and I remember her telling us how to put our one foot forward and tip our shoulder back....so funny! She volunteered for endless committees and fundraisers....a terrific hostess, totally organized. She was and is not only the best cook but everything she was in charge of was a dramatic feast for the eyes as well. She taught me how to commit fully to something and give it 100%. She always said "if it's worth doing...it's worth doing right!". She has continued her involvement in the community by volunteering at the hospital each week and , although her job is checking in visitors, she manages to keep the folks there on their toes!
She and her friends had great times every Saturday night and I remember how exciting it was for me to watch her get ready! She always laid my father's clothes out first and then she would get dressed. (after washing and setting our heads in sponge rollers) This was a light green and taupe silk strapless. (my parents are seated at the far right).
She and my Grandmother would go all over shopping for clothes (before Malls). Sometimes if a shop all the way in Connecticut was having a great sale they would make the trek in addition to regular jaunts into the city. She taught me that thrill of the hunt! She would fly through a store with her hand waving behind her "come on, keep up!" she would say to us. (I'm like that now! LOL!) We never stopped for lunch as it was business, not a social event or an all day excursion as she had to get back to manage something and ALWAYS have a terrific meal waiting for my Father. She scored the greatest finds, always pointing out to me the subtlest of details.....she would comment on how light the organdy lace was, a small pin tuck, how the seams were finished on the inside, too. It was never about price but always about quality and how the smallest detail made all the difference. We had weekly treks to Loehmann's discount apparel store (when they had great things) where the saleswomen knew her by name and would hold for her what they knew she would like. She never labored over things, knew just what she wanted. She would even indulge me when I asked her to try on the glitziest dress covered in feathers and spangles.
My parents hosted many parties including this Halloween party...Mom is the French maid on the right. This is the only time I had a store bought costume ...I think they were busy. (that's me in front).
I used to jump around the house as I was a cheerleader for a million years. She would be making dinner while I was slapping and stamping looking at my reflection in the double ovens. LOL! She never stopped me or made me feel like cheerleading was silly or unproductive. Not a stage mom, she didn't butt in, but she spent many hours sitting alone reading on the bleachers while we yelled and practiced our routines over and over. I would sometimes say "mom, how was that?". Her response was always "GREAT!!"
I don't know WHAT went on here as she wasn't in beauty pageants
(although she could have been )
I remember her getting dressed for this flapper party at the club.
She is in front center sideways on the floor.
I was in her bathroom when she was penciling on that beauty mark....I think I was 6 years old but thought WOW!! That is chic!! She smoked at the time, of course, and had a cigarette holder with rhinestones! No, that's not a tattoo on her leg but stockings with flocking!
Apparently she didn't teach my father how to stand for a photo....cancel that, she probably did and he resisted! She would always place my derby hat cocked a little....the details!
As you can tell the right outfit was a big part of our lives....
My parents in the center flanked by my Grandparents..
Love the pointy bra.
Her coat was this wonderful pink boucle.....I'm not happy for some reason...could it be the hat that probably had that dreadful elastic band digging into my neck??
My grandmother knit these sweaters and hats and my mother added vintage pins on each....I must say most of the pictures with my sisters are just three of us as my youngest sister was born 12 years after I was when we were gawky teens refusing to have pictures taken...
I had never seen corn husks on the front porch before she placed them here one Halloween in the 1950's...She put endless energy and time into our home for the Holidays. I don't have a picture, but she and my Grandfather would construct magnificent Christmas decorations completely transforming our home, especially the outside. It changed each year and the results were always unbelievable and tasteful. She would decide sometimes to have a themed Christmas tree ....once was all pink and silver, another year reds, etc. She took such pride in the holidays for us but never fussed when we had our own ideas, for example when my sister's Michael Jackson doll was the tree topper....I just LOVED that about my Mom that it wasn't about her, but she could bend and yield easily. When we had our own families, arriving back home on Christmas Eve still held the magic of years past because of all the love she put into the celebration.
We even had slipcovered chairs! These were seafoam green chinoiserie
with a wonderful trim...
She taught each of us how to be assertive but never rude. To stand up straight and hold your stomach in, to look people in the eye and smile. We would come into the kitchen during our grundgy overalls years and she would say "you need a little lipstick", snort! Lipstick!! She never stopped trying.. or she would say "put some alcohol on that thing". A truly strong woman, she taught us to care deeply for our families and, most importantly, each other. The fact that my sisters and I all live within a half mile of each other is a testament to her value of family and teaching us that nothing is more important than the harmony and the civility of family. She was and is a very strong, yet sensitive woman, never a shrinking violet and people loved her wit and her ability to get her hands dirty and her hair wet! My Mother always did her own hair and nails and I LOVED that she didn't look like all the other mothers. (she never teased her hair) One time I came home and asked my Dad where Mom was and he replied "she's out with her cotton candy friends". (above)
Food was and is very important in our lives...the family meal is the culmination of the day and always seems like a celebration when my mother is involved in the preparation. When their house in Florida was being built my parents stayed with us when my kids were in high school. Mom would leave my sons' games early enough to get home to finalize the prep of our meals. Midweek we had gourmet feasts to come home to with parsley sprinkled around the plate rims, lemon wedges, etc. This is why sometimes at 7:30 AM I can be found sautéing something for dinner before I leave for the shop. She couldn't understand how ladies would get to the food store at 5pm to decide "what's for dinner?" We tease each other when we are away together and at breakfast we say "so what are we having for dinner?". We have learned to always have a plan. This picture above was taken to send to a distant relative and we, of course, had to pan out to include the chickens on the rotisserie! Comical!!
A familiar shot very often includes food...Danielle with a gigantic lobster!
The most important thing my Mother has shared is how to have fun and not to take yourself too seriously. She would emphatically let her feelings be known to us but she would also realize when she had to yield.She always welcomed our friends into our home......even now in looking back, I realize that we brought some questionable characters home with us. It didn't matter, there was always enough food and plenty of room. She knew the most important thing was we were together and during our teens and twenties she took pride in knowing our friends and those important to us. It was customary in my home that, long after we broke up with our boyfriends, they would still come by the house to see my parents. She created the wonderful balance of making them feel very welcome but never crossing the line. There was never mistaking her for being the adult in charge. She never criticized my friends to me but a daily site was seeing her with her rosary beads and her well worn Novena book! She was also known to bury statues in the backyard and keep them there until something she was praying for happened, OR DIDN'T!!!
The silliness they shared and still share together is a wonderful gift. She made these "luggage markers" for each of us a couple of years ago and we teased her mercilessly that she took them back and said they would wear them instead! She was on Facebook before I was to keep in touch with her Grandchildren, she taught me how to email pictures years ago and rises to the advancement of the latest technology. She has always sat with instructions and "figured it out"! She takes weekly Italian lessons. I laughed a couple of months ago when she was lamenting "I can't believe none of my classmates are on Facebook, they can't all be DEAD!". We had to remind her she was 80 years old.
Dressed for Halloween again...
She has accepted all the stages of aging with grace and a sense of humor....a trait I need to remind myself of regularly. She knows what to fight for and what there is no use lamenting over. For years she slept with a hand held fan, a bottle of seltzer and baby powder to deal with night sweats! Here she is visiting me, years ago, sleeping on the sofa with the powder close by. She never complains...
She relishes being a Grandmother and a Great Grandmother. She spent a few winters at her new home in Florida but moved back to New Jersey because she was bored and missed everyone too much. She is in charge of donating filled backpacks to needy children and collecting funds for holiday gifts. I always love how she puts her thoughtful touches on things by including something special in a zipped pocket as an unexpected surprise . For the past 2 years she has knitted hats for our troops in Afghanistan and, never resisting a chance to spread a chuckle, included a note in each one saying "don't forget to duck!" LOL!
This pic is from my wedding 16 years ago. My mother is on the right and my Grandmother is in front with my sisters and me.
At her birthday celebration the other night my Mother told us " 80 is the new 60" and I have no doubt this number will not slow her down. She also has plans on reaching 100! She is a force, creating good times with those lucky enough to be around her. She is intelligent and fun loving. I always loved how she could comfortably connect with a street sweeper or the Queen of Denmark. I adore her and am so very fortunate to continue to be inspired by her and wish her the very best birthday .....We are so blessed! Xoxo.
Thank you to everyone who read this tribute, it was very important to me to share it with all of you, I owe my Mother so much. I am treasure hunting in France right now and will be back on business track when I return.....Mom would definitely want it that way!
Bonny Neiman Antiques & Artisan
12 Beechwood Road Summit, NJ