Thursday, August 26, 2010


Today I was looking through old photographs and found this snapshot of my friend Nancy who owned an enchanting shop in New York City called "Nancy's Fancy."
I have written about Nancy before. She was my first friend who also loved Sasha dolls. Nancy was, as Nana Laura would say, "Poor as a Church Mouse." Actually, Nancy made poor look good and she triumphed over it with style. She only had one Sasha doll - a blonde Gregor named "William or Mary Depending" -- depending on what he/she wore that day.

The shop was tiny and chock full of revamped and reclaimed "discards" that Nancy rounded up in the wee hours of the morning before the garbage men took them away. She refinished discarded chairs and painted charming designs on them that children loved. Almost everything in the shop was redone in her own style.

After school the local kids filled the shop laughing and joking with Nancy who always had a bright smile and a hearty laugh. She was what people referred to as "a spinster lady" which meant she had discovered life without a man to get in her way.

Her positive, upbeat attitude always reminded me of Nana Laura and Nancy's "museum days" certainly would have delighted Nana Laura.

On Mondays Nancy put on her uptown outfit and visited all the expensive shops on Fifth Avenue. She could not afford a single item they had to offer but she enjoyed the experience.

"I think of them as museums where you can touch things and even try them on." It gave her enormous delight to stroll through Tiffany's and Bergdorf Goodman's -- touching the glamorous gowns and trying on the impossibly expensive hats.

We were an odd pair -- she had nothing and I was overpaid and had cash to burn. I envied her and now that I'm no longer rolling in cash I remember what she taught me about simple joy.

I'd sit and watch her working on some old chair -- giving it new life -- and be amazed by her skill and her modesty.

I was in California when she died suddenly. When I got home I went to visit her and found the shop closed. As I stood looking into the small window -- empty now with just a sign that read "End of the Rainbow" -- one of her young friends came by to leave a flower at the door. We knew each other from years of afternoons spent laughing with Nancy.

"What happened?" I asked.

"She died."


"Her heart was so full of love it just exploded."