Trunks Yield Yesteryear's Fashions

By dhowell - Posted on 03 January 2008

As the centennial plans progressed questions arose. What did great-grandmother wear a century ago? Everyone was talking about hooped skirts, leg-of-mutton sleeves and petticoats with rows of ruffing.

Delving into family trunks resulted in many interesting costumes being brought out. Mrs. Leonard Ahrens had the 85-year-old lilac and white candy stripe cotton dress belonging to her aunt, Mrs. Walter Behnke of Ann Arbor. There was lilac velvet ribbon trim and lace at the high neck. Rows of tucking and lace adorned the petticoat and bloomers. She borrowed high buttoned shoes from her motherin-law, Mrs. Harold Ahrens. An embroidered label inside the shoes reads: "H. L. Holmes Merz. Co. Chelsea-Pingree Gloria $3.50."

She found a sailor-style white hat, belonging to the family of Mrs. F. M. Reck. It dates back 75 years. Then there was the violin belonging to Mrs. Ahrens family, dated 1902.

Mrs. James C. Hendley brought out the two-piece graduation dress of white wool serge which was worn by Mrs. Alleda Case Tracy, a member of the second class to be graduated from Manchester High School, the Class of 1873. Brussels point lace forms the collar and vestee, and is repeated in the V trim on the back of the bodice. The long slightly flared skirt has several 15-inch pleats with frog trim. This is on display at Marx and Marx store.

Mrs. Ahrens inquired around. As long as there would not be a pageant surely a fashion show would be interesting. The women in the six area churches agreed. Helping with plans were representatives: Mrs. Glen Lehr and Mrs. Maynard Blossom of Emanuel Evangelical and Reformed Church; Mrs. Ruth Sodt and Mrs. Harold Steinaway from Sharon EUB; Mrs. Paul Kappler and Mrs. LeRoy Knickerbocker from the Methodist; Mrs. Louis Vogel and Mrs. Elton Hieber from Bethel; Mrs. Loren Trolz and Mrs. Roger Trolz from Iron Creek, nondenominational; and Mrs. Ahrens, general chairman, and Mrs. William Schwab from St. Marys.

On Sunday, July 23 at 3 p.m. the High School's new auditorium was jam-packed as more than a hundred costumes were exhibited. An Irish linen sidesaddle riding habit worn in 1904 was modeled by Mrs. Robert Ross. The ensemble, tailored for her aunt, Mrs. W. P. Leech of New York City, is styled with leg-of-mutton sleeves and a skirt cut to dip on the right side. The bow for her hair, her aunt's black gloves and the original riding boots complete the costume.