• Mrs. Blue

    by Jane Roland

    Saturday was the second day of our Holiday Open House at the Treasure Shop.  We were moving items around when one of the volunteers picked up a handsome ceramic vase which had been broken and repaired.  It was so good looking that we decided to put it out “as is”.  Andrew made the comment that someone could buy it and place the cracked side against the wall.   This brought back a flood of memories.

    Many years ago I was heavily involved with the Monterey County Symphony, President of the Guild and Secretary on the Association Board.  When that stint was over, I started volunteering at Monterey County Volunteer Services in their Thrift Shop in Seaside.  It was a natural, as I enjoyed working on rummage sales and had set up a benefit shop for my church in Florida.  There was a woman who came in at least once a week, one that everyone enjoyed seeing, as she loved to spend.

    Sometime later I was asked to manage the SPCA Benefit Shop on Forest Avenue.  I accepted with the provision that the place be totally renovated as it was in deplorable condition.  The board agreed and granted a certain amount for the work. My cousin, Sam Morse, drew up plans for us (pro bono) and Dave Stocker bid on the work, presenting a very attractive offer.   When the shop was closed for a couple of months for the work, some volunteers and I cleaned out a warehouse down the street, underneath the Top Hat Grocery Store (later the refrigerator above the storage unit broke through the floor and our goods were flooded}.  My husband, John, went down wearing waders and salvaged what he could. But that is a different story.

    We opened with a Holiday Open House the first weekend of December, an event we continued for twenty years and one that I carried on in the Treasure Shop.

    I was standing at the check out counter when a familiar figure appeared.  It was the shopper whom I had met at MPVS.  She became a regular and, as time went on, I learned about her.  Her name was Mrs. Blue (I have forgotten her first name), her husband was Howard.  She made the rounds once or twice a week, starting in Seaside at MPVS, Salvation Army, and others.  Her thrift shop travels of the day ended in Pacific Grove.  I wish I could do her justice, but too much time has past.  She was tall and lanky, always wore a tailored tweed suit in grays, lavenders or blues with a lapel pin, a hat atop her grey hair, which as I recall was pilled on her head, little glasses, heavy duty shoes…(for all the trudging through stores).  The garments were always a dull color; her hats had the brim trimmed off to give the impression of a bowler style.  Sometimes the chapeau sported a little flower or feather.   She would roam through the store, picking up interesting items.  She and her husband haled from Kansas City, Missouri, and, from what I understand, owned a good bit of the state.  They spent five months in PebbleBeach, seven in the Midwest for tax reasons.  She would buy an “as is” vase and comment that she could turn it in a cabinet so no one would see the crack. She shopped and shopped and definitely helped our bottom line.

    mrs. blueI really liked her.  She had a grand, acerbic sense of humor about everything.  She shared some of her family history, her background was simple as was Howard’s and she was proud to say that he was a self-made man and he made it big.  She was every inch a lady, kind, and cheerful.  In those days John had a yellow Dodge truck which was useful when it came to pick-ups and deliveries.  One day we received a large, flat screen television set, a first of its kind, donated to us in like new condition. Mrs. Blue came in, saw the device and purchased it.  She said that she would pay to have it delivered, but we declined telling her that we would be happy to bring it to her. That was absolutely the truth; we couldn’t wait to see her home.   It was a large old Mediterranean near the Lodge.  We knocked at the door and were greeted by Mr. and Mrs. Blue.  They ushered us into the room that was to house the TV.   It was a study, packed to the brim with things.  Everything was neat and tidy, no indication of hoarding, but, of course, we didn’t see the rest of the domicile.  Mrs. Blue offered us tea or, perhaps, sherry.  The appliance was left and we returned home.

    We continued to see our friend and talked about having dinner some night, then Howard became ill, he still drove her on her missions to shop but remained in the car.  I would take things out for her and see him as he sat there, grey and wan.  I suspect she did not drive.  One year they left for Missouri and we never saw them again.  I have no idea what happened to them, he was so sick that I am sure he died and, considering her age, she is, no doubt, gone.   In my line of work, I meet many people, some become good friends and we see them socially.  Most we know only through the business but become close enough that, when they no longer appear there is certain emptiness.  If anyone knew the Blues and can fill us in it will be greatly appreciated.

    If you want to support Pacific Grove and small businesses, if you wish to purchase designer clothing and accessories, art work, books, furniture, etc. shop at the local benefit shops.  You will not only save money on desirable items, you will help a cause, which, in my case, are animals.  We urge you to stop by and see the gorgeous decorations and holiday design by Frank.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on November 27, 2013

    Topics: Animal Tales and Other Random Thoughts

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