by Marilyn Crockett, a member of Get Your Wordsworth
The hurricane struck on Monday. Marian, my good friend and show roommate, was to drive me and my class and table materials on Thursday. Surely that would be enough time. I called her on Tuesday and she was fine. She was in the evacuation zone but felt correctly that her side of the street was on high enough ground. She wasn’t flooded. She had to get gas. She laughed and said that she was running on fumes. I continued the laborious process of packing. I packed for the hotel room in my little rolling Samsonite. I packed for the class I was teaching, which had five students last I had heard, putting the kits and equipment in two shopping bags. I was prepared with more than five kits if more students showed up. I packed for my sales table in two large Staples tubs, a plastic display case, and a small plastic two-drawer unit that with a drape provided “elevation” to display my miniature baskets. The Philly Show, technically the Philadelphia Miniatura is the largest and arguably best show on the East Coast. I am lucky to be in it, and had been working hard on some new mini things as well as preparing the kits for the class.
I‘ve been making miniatures for about twelve years professionally, not that I make a living at it, but it does make some badly needed retirement money, and I have a good time. It is my fifth spin off art career and in many ways the most pleasurable.
The trouble hit me when Marian called on Thursday morning and said she couldn’t go. There were two problems. Mayor Bloomberg had just announced that he was permitting only cars with three people in them to enter the city over the bridges. Marian lives in the Bronx; she was to pick me up in Manhattan. Could Danny drive me to Marian’s and we could drive from there, using the Tappan Zee bridge? But then Danny wouldn’t be able to get home without three people in the car. Could Marian drive between the hours of midnight and six in the morning. Marian said she couldn’t drive at night. In all the time I have known Marian I didn’t know this. We did stay over until Monday morning after a show, but that was because we were both tired and liked to relax. I said I would talk to Danny about driving me down.
Now came the task of convincing my husband. He had his own plans, an important pre-election political meeting and a memorial service for a dear friend who had recently died. I pulled out my most serious persuasive technique and called him “My Prince Among Men.“ He shook it off but I don’t use it too often and it worked. He was reluctant and only my pleading the outstanding table fee of about three hundred dollars and the five waiting students slowly persuaded him. He said the car had half a tank of gas. I called Marion back to get her to put the hotel reservation in my name to save her the cancellation fee and I also called the hotel to give them my credit card number and verify that it was done. Danny got on the internet and found to his surprise both of his obligations had been postponed. He packed grousing about what he was going to do all that time in the hotel. He had an air of being very much imposed upon.
The trip down seemed uneventful until we noticed the gas lines and the closed service stations in New Jersey just off the bridge. He wanted to know why I didn’t know about this as I watched the TV all the time. I explained that I watched Channel 1 and that had New York City news not New Jersey news. We would not have made it except for the half a tank of gas. At one point the three lane southbound part of the New Jersey Turnpike had two blocked lanes, one filled with cars waiting for gas and the second lane with two huge trucks nosing in toward the cars. We slowly moved through the only open lane. We stopped in Hightstown to look for gas but without luck. We have friendly feelings toward Hightstown since I also do a small local show there. One station had a truck clearly delivering gas but the owners wouldn’t give us a wait time until it could be pumped and wouldn’t let us use the bathroom. About three quarters of the way to Cherry Hill where the Philly show was actually held, we did find a short line and waited a half hour for gas.
Danny had not gone with me to any of the big shows before and didn’t realize the level of luxury hotels that I was accustomed to. I tried to explain that The Embers Restaurant of the Crowne Plaza Hotel was not as expensive as it looked. There were quite presentable entrées of hamburgers or a Ruben for only ten dollars. There was a veggie burger for nine, not that he would eat a veggie burger. We went out to a Wendy’s and had a miserable meal for two, for eleven dollars even getting a senior discount. It was such a disheartening experience for me I convinced him to go to the bar for a drink when we got back.
Friday went better. I went down to the ballroom and found the set-up could be started at 10:00 and I had seven students for the afternoon class. I got down my two luggage carriers of stuff and began to set-up my table. I like to have lots of time to set it up just so and display everything to show well. The pride of place goes to the miniature historical paintings laid on a black cloth in the center of the table. The paintings are what I started with and for which I was awarded artisan status with the Guild. In addition I have some wicker in the acrylic display case and the baskets on the blue silk draped drawer unit. Most of my work is in one twelfth scale, one inch equals one foot suitable not for children’s doll houses but for the adult collector. The most impressive pieces I think, are loaded furniture. My three bay filled bookcase, available at three hundred and twenty dollars, is gently distressed and filled with not just fifteen shelves of books but also stuffed with brown envelopes, newspaper piles, a cardboard looking file drawer, papers and so forth. I also do a Wizard Table, and an Artist’s Dirty Sink with appropriate distressing and accessories.. A little bit new are the quarter scale things. They sell well for some unknown reason although I don’t believe I am that good at quarter scale.
In the afternoon all seven students showed up. I couldn’t believe it. I expected only one or two. I happily taught “Books, Books and more Books” explaining how to make my kind of miniature books. The students seemed happy with the class and set to making lots of books. There was only an hour between the class and the preview and I went up to lay down for twenty minutes and dress. I have learned that people “dress” and so I do the same. This time it is my Ann Klein white ruffled blouse, grabbed at steep discount at Syms, over black pants. I never do all that well at previews, not having that precious expensive thing that everybody desperately wants, but I did gather in some small sales as well as some excellent hor d’oeurves. There was a veggie, cheese, and dip set-up in our exhibit room, as well as strolling servers with savories, but I did have to go to the main ballroom for the cash bar vodka and tonic.
Friday night we hit the bar again and it was mobbed. I watched a group of five men who were between me and the bar. The somewhat older man who seemed to be in charge, was ordering and passing around beers and then what I think was cognac. The men looked somewhat dazed and didn’t seem to be talking much. They were neat and clean but had those heavy shoes that look as though they have steel toes. A boss was treating his workers. I imagined them as electricians as they didn’t seem to be the brawny types from the heavier construction trades or first responders. Ginger had said that the hotel was full with Sandy workers and sufferers. The coast was sixty miles away.
Saturday was slower than expected but Sunday was fine. People were getting gassed up, coming to the show, and buying. Some miniaturist save all year for a big show like Philly and will not be deterred for long, by a mere storm. I crossly told Danny not to bother me as I will still making three sales in the last five minutes. I did make what is serious money for me, and we had a good time. Saturday night at the party Danny got to dance with gorgeous Ginger, who will gently flirt with husbands in the friendly circle of dealers. Her looks at one time supported her career as an actress, songstress and model. Her present career as a nurse has given her compassion. Only two members of the band showed up, but the duo of guitar and percussion played danceable music. I was glad to have Danny there because just having a husband at my age is getting to be something to show off. It was a successful show and we drove home tired but happy with a full tank of gas. I found out later that many dealers didn’t make it but there was a wait list and there were no empty tables. Again I was lucky to be in what was surely the most exciting show of the season.