Tuesday, July 7, 2009

They Worked Hard for the Family, Bowen style

If you read yesterday's blog you will know I wrote about the Trumbo Foundry and the copyright situation surrounding the photo of it. What with that little problem, I had decided I would pass on this Carnival, but then, I remembered my grandmother Bowen and the store! I wrote this blog and stored it for a few days, then received permission to use the Trumbo Foundry photos. I could not wait to write and publish the Trumbo Foundry Blog. However, since I had already prepared this blog, I am going to publish it.

So, as a reminder, here is the assignment, in part:

"The professions of our ancestors are almost as interesting as the people themselves. Some of our ancestors worked very hard; they took in laundry, worked the land, raised many children, or went to school and became professionals. Photographs of them working are called occupational photographs and are rather hard to find."

Florence Bowen was the owner of Nags Head Sportswear, Nags Head, Dare County, North Carolina. Florence had worked in women's clothing for years, starting before her marriage in 1923. She worked for Rice's in Norfolk, Virginia, where she was a buyer. She and Hayden, her husband, had owned Bowens Sportswear in Great Bridge, Virginia.

Here is Florence inside Nags Head Sportswear. If you live along the Atlantic, and on the Outer Banks specifically, you live with the threat of hurricanes. Florence lived and worked there before and after the Ash Wednesday Storm. This storm hit March 7, 1962. David Stick wrote and published the work, "The Ash Wednesday Storm", 1987. The book is filled with photos and stories of this storm which caused more than $234 million dollars of damage. On page 42 of this work, David wrote about Florence and her store:

"Florence Bowen sat by a window, looking out at her Sportswear Shop, engulfed by a flood. Then, suddenly, she saw smoke coming out of the shop, and for something like three hours all they could do was sit there and watch as the Nags Head Sportswear Shop, looking like an oasis in a salt-water sea, slowly burned down to the water's edge."

She worked at the Galleon in Nags Head for many years after the loss of Nags Head Sportswear. Customers would drive from Norfolk to Nags Head (about 80 miles one way) to have Florence assist them in their wardrobe picks each year. Many said, no one could "dress" them the way Florence did.

Florence worked hard, and lost much. She never rebuilt or opened another store.

*I have photos of the Great Bridge store with Hayden and Florence standing out in front, several more photos of the Nags Head Sportwear Shop (inside and out), a business advertisement for the Nags Head Store, and an advertisement for the Rice Department Store in Norfolk.


Family Attic said...

That must have been so hard to watch what you own burn down - such a helpless feeling. Thanks for sharing the story and the photos.

Brett Payne said...

Nag's Head - what an interesting name for a town. There are plenty of pubs/taverns/inns in England with this name, but I've not come across a sportswear shop before. Thanks for sharing your interesting photos and sad family story, Carol.

Carol said...

Thank you both for visiting and reading. Brett, if you Google Nags Head, North Carolina, I am sure you will come up with a mulititude of hits, it is a very popular resort beach area. History galore.

GrannyPam said...

Just plain sad...