Saturday, August 28, 2021



The Nebraska State Fair began yesterday but unfortunately I won't be able to attend this year (ye olde land 'o the unvaxed out there) but that doesn't mean I can't wear my State Fair attire at home in the city. Like all the best clothing this one has a good story.

Years ago (and by years I mean like over 20) we took a trip to Abilene, Kansas because I wanted to visit the Eisenhower library. We've since been back with Danny, and if you ever find yourself in Kansas looking for something interesting to do, I highly recommend a visit. Back when went the first time around the city wasn't as geared up for tourists as it is now, and the antique shops were more along the lines of junk shops with prices that reflected the quality of merchandise. The store where I found this dress was notable for being not dirty in a filth/grime sort of way, but undusted/tidied in a way that reflected generations of meaning to "get around to cleaning". I find that completely relatable now, but back then when I still had youthful ideas about housekeeping standards, I was horrified. I would have turned and left, but my husband found himself trapped in conversation with what I'd best describe as an, "Interesting elderly local." Accepting that we'd be there for a while I decided to have a look around whilst trying to avoid breathing more than absolutely necessary. 

Ever been in a store where there's a hand painted sign with an arrow indicating "More Upstairs/Downstairs"? Sometimes that's great. Back when Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop was in Boston (since moved to New Hampshire I hear) they had a gloriously un-sorted upstairs where I found the most wonderful books I didn't know I needed. Sometimes, it was in the Basement like the old Watertown Books. This was Kansas, not Massachusetts, but having swung back around to check on Mr. ETB listening to the story of someone that stole the topper off a bottle thirty years prior and the woman sighing, "The Lord says we have to forgive..." I was resigned to not getting out of the place anytime soon. I went upstairs. 

"Upstairs" wasn't another floor, but a dark, unfinished attic space where a ghost wouldn't have been the worst thing I might have seen. Before retreating, I spotted some clothes strewn over an old desk. Of course I found a gingham dress in Kansas, you couldn't get more Kansan. It was in good shape, just a little-okay, very dusty. There was another dress, a black brocade with a matching bolero and I took that one as well. They were unpriced, but I knew it couldn't be much, certainly not by Boston standards. 

I can't remember how much they were, but it wasn't much and buying something did actually distract the woman at the till from Mr. ETB long enough to give us a reason to pay and escape. I sometimes wonder if I hadn't bought the dress how much longer we'd have been there. We might still be there! 

The dresses both washed-up fine (that's cotton for you!) and are wardrobe favourites to this day. 

Someday, I will stick a fluffy crinoline beneath it. The dress is fully lined and is made by Lanz of Salzburg. It has a 1958 copyright on the label, but my understanding is that's the date of the label re-design and might be as late as 1960 when they changed the label again. So old, but not that old. It was likely still new-ish when it was abandoned in that attic.  

I don't have great photos of the second dress I bought that day, but here's some from 2013.

Pardon the toilet theme, I was buying a plunger that day. Mr. ETB asked me to pose with my purchase in the lot of the hardware store, so I did.
Much to the embarrassment of the eight year old Danny
You can almost see the decision to move abroad forming in his head at such a young age. 

Before I leave you, I'll give a few close-ups of the accessories from last week's wearing.
Reproduction mourning brooches from Museum of the Very Strange on Etsy. 
Unworn vintage shoes I thrifted. They gave me a blister but that's my fault for breaking them in without stockings. 
Vintage straw handbag I always forget to use. I used it twice this summer, so as far as I'm concerned that justifies owning it. I don't remember where the belt came from but it is quite old. 

So no State Fair for me this year, but here's hoping next year will be better. That gives me yet another year to work on my rhubarb pie recipe, so be warned-I'm going to be back gunning for a Best of Division ribbon in 2022. 
My blue-ribbon strawberry/rhubarb pie from 2017. I've improved since then. I lost the Best of Division rosette ribbon to an admittedly beautiful apple pie. 
See you next year, Nebraska State Fair

Be extra nice to the volunteers if you go-they're so dedicated and working under pretty terrible conditions between the weather and covid. 




Anonymous said...

Ah, Shirt waist dresses and gingham. It really does say Kansas. What a fun story. Your dress looks crisp and nice on you.
My experiances have not been so good with shirt dresses. When I started 7th grade in the 1960's my mother bought me a solid brown one. The attached tulle peticoat itched me like crazy. My mothers solultion was to cut the netting off at the waist leaving a 1/2 inch still attached unbearable stiff jagged tulle edge digging into my skin. Let me tell you, I learned very little in school the days I had to wear that dress.

On a lighter note , strawberry rhubarb pie is the best.

Best Wishes,
Gail from Pa.

Polyester Princess said...

I actually love more upstairs/downstairs kind of shop, even when the attic/basement leaves a lot to be desired. I did some of my best finds in places like that. I'm not so keen on "interesting elderly locals" though.
I would definitely have snapped up that gingham dress. It's gorgeous and so are the brooches and straw bag.
I'm chuckling over the plunger episode, but I'm feeling Danny's embarrassment :-) xxx

Emily said...

I love shops that have "more upstairs / downstairs," and the dustier they are, the better. Bonus points for shops that have chatty elderly people-- I actually love hearing their stories.

Your two black outfits are beautiful. I can't help but wonder if you continued playing with the plunger when you got home from the hardware store that day, just to amuse and embarrass Danny, as the all-black dress makes you look somewhat like a judge, and the plunger would be a hilarious stand-in for a gavel. "Order in the court!"

I have no doubt that you'll have some fantastic recipes for next year's fair, as you are so creative in the kitchen.

Bibi Maizoon said...

San Francisco and Berkeley used to be full of such bookstores and antique/junk shops. Both cities are some of the few old enough and cool enough to have upstairs and basements lingering in their architecture in sunny California. Rents soared so high in the 80s and 90s that most places like that disappeared and were replaced minimally by St Vincent de Paul and other large charity thrift stores. I doubt they’ll come back even though rents in the Bay Area have dropped substantially,
Loving the gingham dress! I was Minnie Pearl one Halloween when I was a pharmacist and wore just such a dress I’d thrifted with a straw hat decorated with thrifted silk flowers, and the obligatory dangling price tag. White gloves and Doc Martens maryjanes with Bonnydoon socks completed the Grand Ol Opry look. Unfortunately, only 5 people recognized my caricature, all over 70 years old. Sigh. Even Americans don’t recall classic Americana.
Lanz of Salzburg is still in business I believe, now they specialize in $$$s embroidered bed jackets and nightgowns.
That brocade dress is very Chanel and absolutely stunning!
Tell those unvaxxxed idiots in the USA that Nepalis are fighting (as in literal fistfights waiting in line at clinics) to get their dose!
Stay safe!

Vix said...

What a shame you don't feel like you can go to the state fair, I always used to enjoy your posts about them but I can totally understand your hesitancy.
That dress looks great with the repro mourning brooches and the Italian (?) raffia bag.
I do love a sign that says "more upstairs/downstairs". Walsall's Second to None has two secret floors of which only June's favourites get the key (me!). I swear there's stuff I sold to her as a teenager 40 years ago up there. xxx
PS That's a fine looking pie!

Vronni's Style Meanderings said...

Yes, hopefully you'll get there next year, Goody.

What wonderful dresses and the story was brilliant. They both look very 1950s/1960s and I love the gingham waisted dress on you - very flattering. Wonderful accesories as well.

Sometimes you just have to have a conversation with someone even when you'd rather not!

The strawberry and rhubar pie looked so good...

Señora Allnut said...

Lovely to read about where and how this dress and the fab brocade set were purchased. It proves that the 'leave no stone unturned' advise really works. Totally agree about the 'More Upstairs/Downstairs' sign in a shop, it means rummaging at its finest!.
I usually stop to chat with any retailer, acquaintance or even random people when running errands, which Mr.A. finds (desperately) boring sometimes. I'm a sociable introvert!.
Love the fabulous gingham (cotton!) and love your styling with the black broches (wowwww) and the Straw bag. Gorgeous accessories, and rocking it, dear Goody!.
Loving the brocade dress and matching bolero too (and the funny photos!). I have a weakness for brocade!.
Sorry that you're not enjoying a visit to the Fair!, hope next year you win the prize with your delicious pie!.

Beth Waltz said...

Would you believe I remember that prize-winning strawberry-rhubarb pie?! Took me a minute to see the decorations as flowers rather than birds. Let's hope both you and the State Fair venue are back to whatever passes for normal in 2022.

The definition of "interesting elders" pinged a nerve. I admit to keeping a watchful eye for entrapment by old gents wearing political headgear -- but I also admit to perking an ear at church-basement-ladies' gossip when they're touring our local museum. The tales they can tell about those prim faces in the formal portraits!

Goody said...

I am so thankful crinolines were out of fashion by the time I came along. I look at photos of my older sister wearing dresses that were as wide as a doorway and count my blessings I was born in the 60s! Your generation suffered through some demanding fashions.

My husband is a magnet for people to start conversations with, but I'm the person they tell wildly inappropriate, personal things that I never wanted to know. I suspect it is my eyewear-I remind everyone of their grandmother and I'm somehow less threatening?
We'll be sending Danny over to you in a couple years. He wants to move to Belgium, though he's looking at schools in Brussels.

If I recall, my husband went into the hardware store and asked for a plunger that could "handle the plumbing in a house full of frat boys." It was shortly after we moved and we found out what the toilets could withstand (or not).
I haven't been baking much these days as everyone's diets make it difficult to find something for everyone. I'm learning though. I'm really shocked at how good the sugar substitutes are these days. The fake brown sugar would fool anyone.

I remember the Bay Area when it was still cool. Everything's gone now. Not knowing Minnie Pearl is pretty bad-she would have still been alive at that point.
A friend in Mexico City waited two days in line for her vaccine and ended up with the SinoVax. I feel terrible because yeah, people that want it are dying waiting while Americans...ugh.

That would be wild finding something you had as a teenager upstairs in a shop.
Rural Nebraska is a mess right now-all the people that thought it wouldn't get to them are finding out that the virus is real. Their hospitals are overrun and now they're flying them into the city and our hospitals are running out of beds. Such a mess (of their own doing) but there's no way I'd put myself in the middle of it. Next year though, I'll be ready for that ribbon.

I'm going to look at the two year break as a chance to fine tune my skills.
I never used to mind speaking with people but the older I get, the less able I seem to be able to tear myself away once someone starts talking. There must be a polite way to wrap things up, but I swear, Midwesterners will say, "I'd better get going" and then talk to you for another 40 minutes in the doorway. And another ten minutes on the street! I guess I lost my Midwesterner Skills all those years living in Boston :)

I try to be friendly, I really do. Some people are too friendly though! There's so much interesting stuff out there to find. I can't remember where the straw bag came from, but I'm sure it was inexpensive.

I knew how inept my lattices are so I tried to do something that wouldn't look off kilter. They're tulips, but I think were I to do it again I might just get out the ruler and pie cutter and go for the lattice. Red pies sort of demand it, don't they?
Interesting people are a different deal altogether. But you can definitely tell when someone just wants to talk. I mean, I understand that too, especially after this past year. People are lonely and we need each other. Just maybe not for such lengthy conversations. I think I've lost my social skills and the masks don't help. It will be a challenge learning to interact again. For all of us, really.

Mim said...

You look great in that dress - and what a story behind acquiring it.

Has the chicken bag had an outing this year?