The first part of our story about New York Lace Store and its founder has received a wonderful response! In all the little towns where people grew up, there must have been a store like this. A store that mirrored the events in our lives: our first Communion dresses, prom dresses ( or a gown for the Cadet Drill at Taunton High), our wedding dresses, or dark dresses for the sad part of our lives and our families. A reader wrote that each Christmas her Dad would take her to buy a cocktail dress for her mother who would wear it New Year's Eve.
It seems that many Dads took their daughters to NY Lace to pick out a dress for Christmas for their Moms. A gentlemen recollected that his Dad would take him there to pick out clothes for presents for his Mom and that he bought the boy his first leather jacket there.
This is a photo of my Mom, Angi Mota Souza, probably from the early 50's or late 40's. She is wearing a taffeta dress with a perky little hat to match. I think they were in emerald green. I am sure she bought this dress at NY Lace Store and that it might have been a Christmas or New Year's party. Remember the rustle of taffeta and the music of lights that played on the material?
There was always a continuity in the women working at NY Lace. They were, in their own rights, professionals who knew their customers and what would please them. The elegance I spoke of at New York Lace was like a balm that left the frazzled everyday outside. Another reader recalled that the saleswomen had lovely hands, they would put their hands (knuckles up, of course ) into the sheer nylons so you could see what they would look like on you.
One reader mentioned the back of entrance. Remember that? You came in from the back parking area, up the quiet stairs and then you were there where everything was carpeted and the big three way mirrors beaconed you in the new dress you were trying on. The dress would start the dreaming and you would be in another world. My childhood friend and I went there to get her wedding gown and my dress as Maid of Honor, so many years ago. I do not know why I was so serious, except that maybe I could see into the future....
The memory of us back in the Bridal Salon area at N.Y. Lace store is vivid in my mind. Just the two of us as it was a very small wedding. I had never been in a wedding before. Kneeling on the altar at St. Anthony's I stepped on the dress and tore a hole in the back.... All of this when I was but 18 years old.
In 1984, New York Lace turned 77 years old. This is a photo of Betty Setchkenbaum Mackowski, daughter to Pincus holding a treasured photograph of her father. At the time, the store had been run by three generations of the family.
The Taunton Daily Gazette did a major writeup for the occasion of the anniversary. Mr. Zetchkenbaum died in 1950 and never saw the final form of his store. Mrs Mackowski and her husband, Sidney took over the running of the store in 1930 as
Mr. Zwetchkenbaum entered retirement.
This photo below in that same issue shows Sidney Makowski with pieces of the actual lace and other yard goods that Pincus Zwetchkenbaum sold door to door.
But, back to our real story, that of Pincus Zwetchkenbaum (everytime I type this I hope I do it right!)
We know that Mr. Zwietchkenbaum was a good businessman and entrepreneur. How many other stores started in 1906 and endure until this day? But, what was he like as a person? In the 1984 article he is described as a generous man. The article quotes his daughter that during the Great Depression he always carried nickles and dimes in his pockets in case he met a man selling apples to feed his family.
Fact: During the Great Depression unemployed men,
often dressed as if go to work to try and maintain their dignity, sold apples on the streets around the country. In 1930 the International Apple Shippers Association had an oversupply of fruit
and decided to empty their warehouses of apples. They gave them on credit to the unemployed. Selling apples on street corners during those dark days became a symbol of the times.
Pinterest: Chicago Tribute photo
Pincus often saw to it that a needy family had food, coal, milk to last them through the winter. His back porch was a place where someone could find a good meal and not be turned away. Mr. Z's generosity seemed of biblical character. When the City Treasury hit a low and doubts were that teacher's salaries could not be paid, Pincus gave them an interest free loan to be sure that they were paid.
New York Lace Store kept that very special character. Interestingly, the Star Theatre building was right next door to New York Lace. Its fate was not a happy one and it met its demise. Yet, New York Lace store, now expanded and enlarged, continues on its timeline, earning new owners and finding new ways to build upon the long ago selling of yards of lace.
Once the venerable store came under those new caretakers new stories emerged. The story of that journey is fascinating as well and waits for another day.
I am appreciative of the following resources:
* Once more, The Taunton Public Library Research Department in the person of
Aaron Cushman who is always willing to speedily help with what is needed.
- Taunton Daily Gazette editions
* Pinterest: Chicago Tribute photograph
* 1930 and 1940 U.S.A. Census online version.
* The "I'm From Taunton" Facebook page. Thank you to all those who
posted comments and memories to this iconic store.