Thursday, January 20

Rita in Grazia

A while back, we did a House Clearance of a flat above a hairdressing salon which opened in the 60s and ceased trading some 30 years later.
Rita had run the salon, living alone in the flat (up 4 flights of stairs!) well into her eighties.

It's strange "meeting" someone after their death and discovering the minutiae of their life without prior permission, and difficult not to form an impression of character through closets of clothes, choice of ornaments and personal mementos.

Rita seemed feisty- a truncheon buried beneath the bottom stair in case of intruders, reports from the neighbours of a fierce old woman pouring a bucket of water from an upstairs window over a yob urinating against her porch when the pub closed.
Wardrobes filled with exquisitely stylish clothes from the 50s and 60s- she had been whippet thin with a penchant for elegant tailoring and pencil skirts. . .and no doubt the obligatory beehive hairdo.
In the back yard was a tiny dog's graveyard- for all her business acumen and independence, obviously a lady with a heart.

The salon had red-&-white checked lino, decaying red Formica workstations and heavyweight hood dryers.
In the cellar was the original signboard from the shop front.

It took all week to clear the contents working from the attics downward, salvaging anything precious and disposing of the massive accumulation of rubbish.
The building was to be sold and the Agents wanted it clear and clean.

We tackled the salon early on a Saturday morning. Within hours it was empty- the debris swept away leaving only the chequered lino to mark its jaunty past.
Then we brought the sign up from the cellar, tuned the radio to Sounds of the Sixties and squirted a can of hairspray all around. . .you could almost hear the click-clack of stiletto heels on the floor!

The sign was eventually bought by a fashion-shoot stylist in London, and I received an email this week to say it was photographed in Grazia magazine.
I bet Rita would've loved that!


Hen said...

What a great story!
Hen x

Alix said...

Was going to write simply 'What a great story!' but I see I've been beaten to it! I bet Rita is smiling down on you for 'remembering' her in this way.

Sherri B. said...

I love this story of Rita and the way you brought us right into the building, even into her closet. A confession...I cheered for Rita and her bucket of water and compliment her for efficiency in disciplining and cleaning all in one fell swoop.

Have a great day!

Annie said...

i really enjoyed reading about Rita, what a great story.
Ann x

Vintage Tea Time said...

A lovely, evocative story - thanks so much for sharing :) I love it that the sign was bought by the stylist - I 'spect we'll see it everywhere now!

sue15cat said...

Brilliant painted it so well, I was there with fiesty Rita, she will live on through that sign I'm sure. She deserves to.

Sue xx

VintageWantsNotNeeds said...

Wow how lucky are you - did you find any of those old fashioned spikey rollers - I remember going to bed in those in an effort to give my hair some curl, now I have to straighten it!!!! I have the original sign from the shop where I live it is a great reminder of the past and I am sure that Rita would be chuffed to bits to see it given an airing.

Linda said...

What a lovely Blog, I was back there in my mind
love the Chickens by the way...I adore chickens Linda xx

melbatoast68 said...

So very cool! This made me think of my aunt. She was a hairdresser when I was a child. I had to go into her basement at Christmas and she still has her big heavy hood hair dryer. I bet Rita would have been a really neat lady to spend the afternoon with chatting. I love women with spunk!

Menopausal musing said...

Loving the thought of the sixties music, the hairspray being sprayed and the click-clack of the stilettos..............

What a beautiful sign too.........

trashsparkle said...

How lovely that Rita's things were handled by you, rather than by someone who might have been less respectful. A glorious send-off for a past life with the radio and the spray!

sharie said...

I must admit I felt a pang of pain for Rita to hear that she had no family who cared enough to go through her personal possessions before strangers did so. Puts me in mind of the time we went to view a house where an elderly man had died and the remnants of his last supper and an unmade bed with his clothes hung over the chair nearly had me in tears.
I'm glad she had a sympathetic team to clear out her home and appreciate her.

sandiart said...

If it had to be that strangers went through her possessions I am glad it was you and not some heartless person.
Good on Rita, a bucket of water haha.
x Sandi

tracey @ the vintage bothy said...

Hi Miss Bunny
what a great story, did you keep any of the clothes, I seem to remember that the last time that I saw you, you were looking exceptionally chic!?
I can't actually imagine you being anything other than well turned out, do you look like that when clearing houses? You must tell me your secret!
Josie xx

Kim said...

Wow, Kit's Mum! You are a great writer!

Donna ~ Love.Hope.Craft said...

What a lovely story. And the picture looks great too :)

Sylvia said...

What an interesting story !
Belated happy birthday, Elaine !
Nice weekend,

Gena said...

How fabulous Elaine! whenever I go to house clearances I always like to get a 'feel' of the person who had lived there,I have shed loads of little bits and pieces of sentimentality from other peoples homes that are quite worthless, but I cant seem to find it in me to throw them away! The clothes sound fabulous!

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