The world of Instagram is a fun one. It allows you to present yourself and your business to a global audience, while simultaneously using it as a tool to find and follow like-minded individuals and businesses in your field; drawing inspiration, education, and support. Belle Starr Vintage Market is very much an image based business, so the Instagram platform has really helped open our eyes to different markets and trends. It’s kind of unchartered territory. It's only been growing in popularity and function since its inception in 2010. I’ve really enjoyed learning from and growing our own Insta-family, meeting and supporting folks from all over this industry of interior design, vintage and antiques.
Now rewind back to summer of 2018. There’s a shop I obsessively follow, Santa Fe Antiques, based out of - you guessed it! - Santa Fe, New Mexico. If you aren’t following them already, you should by clicking here. For months we followed each other with ‘likes’ and comments. I enjoy their style of presentation, their well-curated collection of vendors and inventory, and the quality of their selection. Their post on August 6, 2018 stopped me dead in my scroll. They featured an original 1917 Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) WWI poster, framed and in great condition. The YWCA’s intention was to garner support and awareness to the conflict, urge action and awareness to boost morale. The YWCA set the stage for the World Wars, and women's role, to follow. The coloring, iconic imagery, historical reference, and personal connection made for a quick decision. I wanted it.
Why did I want it so badly? Because, while this poster dates a little earlier than my connection, the sentimental fool (me) won out. In 1943, at an ordnance ammo plant in Jacksonville, Arkansas, a gal named Betty Brown and her best friend Laurene were workers in a factory making ammunition for the war effort. Laurene, my great aunt, had asked her beau to bring a friend along for her gal, Betty, while home on leave. Here comes my Papaw Charlie as the tag along. For once, matchmaking worked. They met, fell in love, and eloped in Beebe, Arkansas just months later on December 13, 1945. And the rest is my family history.
Regardless of my family connection, the fact that these women rose to the call of duty to their nation, their boys representing and defending our nation, is beyond inspiring. It must have felt beyond inspiring to them, too. For once, there was more they could do than tend to the family and provide a home. More than 300,000 women left their jobs as homemakers and caretakers, and went to aid the war effort serving as rivetors, nurses, drivers, and clerical workers to free up men for combat.
A quote from one of my all time favorite movies, A League of Their Own, comes to mind. “When our boys come back from war, what kind of girls will they be coming home to?” It must have been incredibly difficult to go from newfound responsibilities to back in the kitchen once the boys got home from war. Thanks to my grandmother, and the thousands of women like her, these are conditions women of my generation will never know.
Back to the poster. Every once and awhile, you’re lucky enough to stumble across those one of a kind finds, the ones that you’ll forever regret if you don’t get them when you see them. A quick phone call to Santa Fe Antiques and arrangements were made. Two weeks later, an oversized, can’t hide it from the husband, box arrived on my doorstep. I was so excited to finally open it and to display this piece of history in our home. After gingerly tearing the paper away, it was even better than I could have imagined.
We hung it in our 1940s home. This room has always been my favorite room in our home because of all the natural light, I love it even more with this beauty flanking our walls. This is my reading room and my quiet space. But now it is also filled with the reminder that these women were badass; they did what they had to do for their men, their country. And I wouldn’t be here without the likes of them. Or without the likes of Charlie and Betty Templeton.
The path towards women's rights and the feminist movement has been forged by so many strong women in so many capacities. This is just one humble nod to our history as a whole. So, it will remain a treasured relic in my home. Both serving as a reminder of what these boss women did when they were called to do it, and a reminder of love and devotion in my family.