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JESEBEL A wo-mannequin from Edna’s Dress Shop

December 24, 2010

It was early in the morning on October 15, 1976 when I pulled into a parking place right on University Drive next to the First Presbyterian Church and facing me was Edna's Dress Shop, and "Jesebel!"
I had come that day to paint the portrait of a mannequin which is model of a human figure, an artist's lay (figure) of a dummy for the display of clothes. A mannequin is usually a woman... "dummy," and occasionally a man... "dummy".
I always wondered why a woman mannequin was referred to as a "man," so I decided to make up a word, and call her, "a wo-mannequin!" I did not destroy the entire word, but let’s just say, "I added the first two letters of ‘woman,’ and maybe sorta of created a more fitting name for a ‘lady.’” Agree?
A dress-maker or a costumier uses a "wo-mannequin" to display clothes by the "wo-mannequin" wearing his or her creations and thus the "wo-mannequin" becomes a model for the designer of very stylish clothes for women or for a person who is creating a certain costume for maybe for a Broadway production in New York.
If you personally know me... just acquainted with me... know I LOVE “wo-manequins!” Dottie sits right by our front door of our family home at 501 Louisville Street, and she is joined by Mollie Golly, her five year old granddaughter.
During the day time and especially at night time, glance upwards towards the up-stairs/ art studio and look into the bay window above the front door, and you will spot...standing "Mallie" who is seven years old. She is peering and looking down on you as she is looking intently for the yellow school bus to come by and stop for her to take her on to Sudduth School for her first day of first grade! In her hands she has her first grade reader with the characters of Dick, Jane, and "Spot."
Before you get to the top of the upstairs art/studio you will pass on the landing, "Tiey" is a fancy lady who is standing tall and serene all dressed up in my daddy's old ties. Her shirt is made of his old ties, a sport's coat is made of his old ties, and even a hat was designed and made from daddy's old ties. I wore this outfit once at an art show at the Starkville Public Library.
When you enter the downstairs art studio, you will find two sitting "wo-mannequins." One is sitting in an antique black rocking chair and the other in a fine straight back chair by a table. The one in the rocking chair is named, "You Go Girl," and the cute lady in the straight back chair is named, "You Got It Going On." These two ladies are dressed very arty and are literally covered up with accessories of bows, hats, scarfs, jewelry, and things of every description that seem to be very, very colorful!
Six "wo-mannequins” share our family home with Frank and myself! You could say, each one is a special part of "our family!"
Frank says when those six "wo-mannequins" start walking and talking, especially at night, he might just have to leave! So far, they have all remained exactly in their very spots where they each live! Three are standing "wo-mannequins" and three are sitting "wo-mannequins."
I began to unpack my art supplies for the day ahead of me to use as I began to pop up both my standing easel and colorful umbrella to protect me from the sun that day as well as keep the glare off the white canvas that I would be using for the special portrait I was about to begin to sketch. I had everything I needed for my "outdoor art studio!"
There stood "Jesebel!" Just the name, "Jesebel" tells us she was a Hebrew princess in the Holy Bible in the book of Kings. She did look just like a 1976 real "princess" too!
This fine ladies dress shop was owned and operated by a very "spunky" and very fine lady herself, Mrs. Edna Eaves Daniels. She was married to Ivy Griffin Daniels who was simply called, "Big-Um" Daniels, and went by the initials of I. G. Daniels in the Starkville Telephone Book. They both were born and grew up in our near by town, Shuqualak, just outside of Macon, in Noxubee County.
I knew them as my classmate, Buddy Daniels' fun...happy parents.... loveable and likeable people and parents as well. Edna had worked for several years for another fine dress store owner, Evelyn Rossoff, and her dress store was called Rossoff's. When Evelyn closed her store, Edna Daniels decided to put in her own dress shop next to and in the same building as our Mississippi Valley Gas Company.
Bill Geiger was the manager of this gas company at this time. Since they were side by side to each other, they shared the same bathroom facilities as well as the coffee pot each day during working hours.
Edna simply named her new store, Edna's Dress Shop, and she catered to middle and older aged women as well as younger ladies too. She carried the fine Henry Lee Brand of clothes and Miss Elaine Lingerie brand of ladies underwear and night clothes. She especially had a great selection of costume jewelry. In fact, a lady could just about find anything she so desired down at Edna's!
Several other great ladies assisted Edna in her business. They did not just work for her everyday during regular hours, but they worked with her and each one had so much fun greeting, chatting, and selling all of "us" ladies, clothes, lingerie, jewelry, and everything else we wanted to look "spiffy" and "good-looing" for our special events and occasions that we all attended around Starkville, and Mississippi State University.
Several special ladies who got the opportunity to work right besides Edna for years were Polly Bryan, who was my best friend's mother— Patsy Bryan Stuart and also the mother of Sherriff Dolph Bryan.
I grew up with all the Bryan children, Patsy, Dolph, Carolyn Sue and Bill Bryan, and we use to have so much fun playing together...Patsy and I were grammer school and high school classmates, and I ask Patsy, "do you remember your Mother working at Edna's?"
"Oh, yes, and Moma really loved working there at this dress shop!"
I called and spoke with two other ladies, Joy Kilpatrick and Dora Williams, and they said exactly the same thing..."we loved Edna and Edna's Dress Shop, and it was an absolute joy to be there with her and so much fun too!"
Several others who have gone on to heaven who worked at Edna's were: Miss Madona Cook, and Lou Adams, another school class mate of mine, and Nelda Thompson.
It was fun to go inside to see and visit all these ladies including Edna herself. You could say Edna established a spot, a hub of Starkville on that corner next to the First Presbyterian Church to merely just drop by to visit and see her latest fashions she might have just unpacked for all of us to maybe purchase and have to wear that was really "up-town" fashionable for Starkville, and would be just perfect to wear to church on Sunday when we really dressed up!
Come and go with me back 34 years ago to the year of 1976, and let’s really peer into the front window of Edna's Dress Shop and take a look at "Jesebel."
Look at her blue eyes and her tilted head. She looks very serene and does she not look like a real "princess," maybe even like "Queen Elizabeth" of England herself? It was the autumn of the year so Edna and "her ladies," more like partners...had together dressed "Jesebel" in the perfect fall brown outfit. She has on a dark brown dress, a matching brown jacket there is some color in the bottom of the sleeves of the cute "Boxer Jacket" — colors of red, green, and white. She had a matching scarf in one of her hands...red at the bottom of the jacket too. The scarf she is holding is matching perfectly the slight design in the brown jacket. She has on the perfect necklace to add just the right touch.
Look at her hair do? Her hair is blond and her bangs are slightly covering her forehead, and this style is shoulder length and slightly "puffy," "teased" hair style of the 70's!
To the left, see another bigger and longer coat maybe with the traditional "turtle neck" sweater or high neck blouse and around the neck are two stands of larger, clunky beads. Right in front of "Jesebel's” left leg is a display of another necklace for sale again in the brown color of beads.
As we look into the window we can see to the right through sort of iron grill work, a clothes rack filled with "tempting to buy" dresses of red, blue, and yellow...and there is a heavy-looking plaid coat of navy blue and white checks in the far distance hanging on that clothes rack.
The pretty blue from the outside sky or maybe it is the blue walls inside compliment the color of brown that these ladies chose for "Jesebel" to be "sporting" for fall this year of 1976. She is in "high cotton" fashion. And I just bet that each piece that "Jesebel" is wearing, including her lingerie, is 100 percent cotton! After all, down here in the South, we "love" our cotton clothes!
You can see that this is a showcase window as the sun light cast its own slanted sun rays across and side ways of the window itself. These sun rays were perfectly falling across the big glass window just as pretty tilted face of "Jesebel" which takes you, the viewer of her portrait, until you get to the features of the face of this portrait!
I finished painting that day, signed my full name, dated it, and titled it. Packed up my car again to head back home to my own family that late afternoon. As I was backing out of my parking lot, I looked back, and I saw ...how very beautiful "Jesebel" really looked that day.

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