May 10, 2013: Virginia's Trading Post

Trying on our snazzy sweaters at Virginia's
Some people collect stamps or rocks. Others collect pins or even t-shirts. Mom and I have a fuzzy hand-knitted sweater collection. Thanks to Virginia.

It all started in a tiny home front store in Kingman, Arizona. Virginia, the proprietor, sold the normal inventory of purses, scarves, jewelry, and pant suits. But she had something special that people came from all parts of Arizona and Nevada to purchase; her hand-knitted sweaters.

I believe this rave started with my parents in the late nighties. My dad bought one for my mom as a gift. Each sweater was made by the hands of Virginia and each with an eclectic style. She wove in everything from fur-like yarn to string and beads. Her yarn was imported and the quality, superior. My mom best described her creations as "perfect for Vegas". Liberace would have been green with envy.

The first Virginia sweater I laid eyes on was on a visit by my mom. She showed up with the most beautiful green furry sweater with satin accents. It laid on her small frame perfectly. Although I am biased, I will tell you that she radiated in this sweater. Compliments were given from random people wherever we went. She wore it well and didn't care if it wasn't the latest fad. Virginia was our sweater designer and we couldn't get enough.

My first sweater was a gift from my dad after the birth of Grant. It was brown, furry, and cropped with big buttons. In retrospect, I probably looked like a bear, but sure felt chic at the time. Soon my inventory grew too. Collectively we had every different color and design from a dove with sewn-in pearls to bright balloons on a sweater with puffy sleeves.

Virginia's sweaters were even more cool because she was so cool. In her eighties with fierce red hair (natural color back in the day) and a lot of confidence and attitude, she would take us into her house for viewing of her "private collection". As we perused her many shelves stacked with endless colorful inventory, a rifle rested casually in the corner of her closet.

Mom and I would try on the sweaters in her bedroom, full of family pictures in black and white and a photo of Virginia at a very young age. She was a knock-out. I would often wonder what would prompt her to use the gun. No doubt it's presence helped close the sale.

It's been years since I have worn one of my prized sweaters. My days of looking like a molting bird is perhaps behind me. At the time it sure felt like "bring sexy back". I will hold on to them. Fond memories. Surely mom and I can pull off this look again in the years to come. We will use Virginia as our role model.


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