Monday, February 16, 2009

Ladies Department in Conitz Dry Goods Store

Selling Underwear
in Conitz Dry Goods Store
Calvert, Texas
8.5" x 11"

The Every Day Matters Challenge #210 was to draw underwear.

I tried to think of some interesting underwear to draw, and then I remembered the panty counter at grandpa's dry goods store. All those stacks of panties! I wasn't sure I wanted to draw that and then I thought of drawing someone selling the underwear. I moved my clerk (probably "Toot") over to the bra and girdle display. And I remembered a long talk I had with a customer whose doctor had told her to wear a girdle to help her back. I thought of those miserable, hard to get into girdles of the time, and thought how hard it was for me to get one of those things on. And I thought this poor woman would have a battle to get into one of those tight undergarments. And I wondered if one might help the back trouble I was having. I wasn't willing to struggle with a girdle every day, and suffer through the heat rash and raw skin that those things always caused me.
But, I showed her what we had and talked to her about a lot of different things. I think she bought one that didn't seem so hard to get into, and she paid for it with money wadded up in her handkerchief.
In my picture, I gave the customer a friend. One who enjoyed her dip of snuff as she listened.
My little sister is shown by the counter where we measured fabric. That counter also held a display of ladies handkerchiefs and children's socks. Behind the counter were shelves with boxes of stockings and socks. On top of the shelves, there were rolls of cotton batting used for making quilts.
Barbara liked to wear boys' clothes and play with boys' toys. In this drawing, I showed her dressed in overalls with a striped polo shirt. She has a toy truck in her hand. But, she wasn't just playing with the truck. She was working! Her first job was to watch for shop lifters when the grown ups got busy waiting on customers. Mama worried about her possibly hitting her head on the corners of the counter, as she tried to run around in the store.
In the picture, I am sitting on the floor of the show window. The big plate glass windows gave an excellent view of Main Street, the picture show, and traffic passing by. I liked to get in the show windows and look out, and play with some of the merchandise-like hats! I was put to work doing things like stringing handkerchiefs and putting pin tickets on merchandise, sweeping, straightening, and waiting on customers.
As I draw, these memories and details come to me. It's similar to the mapping exercise that I have written about previously.
We had the basic kind of things in the store. For the fancy things like Merry Widows and petticoats, ladies had to go to Hazel's, or Sue's, or to Bryan, Marlin, or Waco, to the big department stores.
In the front, there was a display case, like those on the tv program, "Are You Being Served", that held things like slips, gift items, and boxes of better handkerchiefs.
Underwear for the older ladies were kept in boxes under the counter with the towels and bath items, and tablecloths. I was told that the older women would not want people to see what kind of underwear they wore. Snuggies, teddies, cotton slips and stockings in orange, pink or nude (beige).
I hope that you have enjoyed reading about selling underwear in the dry goods store!
For those of you who are familiar with Conitz Dry Goods Store, and you are old enough, you might remember the last time that the store burned. That was February 1, 1951. I'm adding a couple of photos. One of the store before it burned, one while it was still burning. And there is another that shows the interior of the store after it was rebuilt.
Jody Powers, owner of Zamykal Gourmet Kolaches in Calvert, sent word that the segment featuring her and her shop will be on tv this coming weekend, Feb. 21st. It will also be on some stations Sunday the 22nd, too. Look at your local tv guide for times.
Jody also sent me a couple of pictures that I will post here tomorrow.
Saturday is the big Plein Aire Painting Workshop with Virginia Vaughan in Calvert. You can see pictures on my blog from the last workshop in October. For more information and a supply list, contact me! You can see more on Virginia's blog and website, and .


Spinneretta said...

Fantastic- love the memories!

Sarah Ketelaars said...

wonderful drawing and memories - great stuff.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post - I did so enjoy this. Thank you.

Rachel Howard said...

Wonderful! I love the back story, since it's rooted in fact with a little sprinkling of imagination, and great characterisation in the drawing - especially customer. :-)

Love it.

andrea joseph's sketchblog said...

Love that drawing!

Quilt Knit said...

Hi! I love these photos. I am having no trouble posting a comment.

BC said...

This is just a really "neat" drawing and memory. Love the customer...great stockings!

pleintexasgirl said...

I had such a great time painting with you and your sister last weekend. I also enjoyed getting to place these photos of Conitz Dry Goods with Mud Creek Pottery. I have a beautiful photo of you and Barbara if you would like to see. I have been real busy this @ work this week so my blog description of our paint-out is short. Hope to paint with you again. Kerrie