“I taught fashion design, home ec, and financial literacy at Fairhope High School for four years and loved it. I started the program and they let me take off with it. I taught students how to design and make their own clothes. I took them to New York and Europe, and fashion weeks in Birmingham, Mobile, and New Orleans. I wasn’t planning to retire, but I had breast cancer and I was out for a long time. I couldn’t keep up the pace anymore. But since I retired, I have been busy every day. I do alterations, make my clothes, and sew for Mardi Gras. I just had a mammogram and it was all clear. For the weeks leading up to it, my brain played tricks with every pain. But there is no more, no more, no more.
We have made 500 masks so far during the Coronavirus. If women in our neighborhood can’t sew, they cut. Former students pick up kits and bring masks back. We sent scrub caps to a labor and delivery unit in Boston. They have gone to veteran’s homes, nursing homes, and jails.
A friend in New Orleans who makes Imelda Marcos look bad asked me to make her masks out of the beautiful cloth bags her expensive shoes came in. Her masks are from Chanel, Prada, Gucci. She is my own Carrie Bradshaw. We call each other ‘bitch.’ She gave me this glass that says ‘Abracadabra. Nope. I am still a bitch.’
I have made my clothes since I was about eight. I was chubby and they didn’t make cute clothes for girthy girls. My mother put me in a Saturday morning sewing class with an old woman who taught us how to pin and hand baste everything. It took six months to make a dress and I was already too fat to wear the dress by the time I had finished. I liked it and kept studying sewing and fashion. I live to sew. I don’t know what people do who don’t have a lifelong passion.
My husband and I lived in the Boston area. Being a Southerner I hugged and kissed everyone and I became known as Hot Lips or Southern Lips. Some call me Smoochie. We are having a grandchild soon and Smoochie will be my grandma name. People give me all kinds of things with lips. Because of the Coronavirus, I haven’t been able to hug and kiss. I am ready to do that again.”