Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wertjes Uniforms: Open for business--Closed for the day


Today, while featuring this small storefront, I got a good sighting of the Cedar Falls Utilities' coal-burning smokestack through the partially leafless trees. Tucked into a neighborhood of houses, Wertjes is three blocks from my house and two blocks from the smokestack. It sells uniforms to policemen and firemen.

A cold front is forecast for the rest of the week. Taking advantage of what I assume to be the last Indian summer day, I set my stool up across the street. In the window,  a handwritten sign stated they were closed for the day while the owner attended a police uniform show in Waterloo. A car parked and blocked my view; I asked the driver if she'd move back a bit and she did. I got sniffed by at least 4 dogs. One of the dog walkers, a man my age in his 60s, told me he'd grown up around the corner when Wertjes was a grocery store;  he'd buy candy and bread there. The owner and her husband returned. After I'd packed up to go, they invited me to come inside. She bought the store 13 years ago  from the Wertjes, who'd owned it for many years. The current owner just happened into it when she went to pick up a uniform for her police officer son and was told the business was for sale. Business is so good, she's thinking of bringing her son from Cincinnati, who just lost his job as a pilot, into the business. I'll have to go back and draw the inside, too. Obviously a thriving business, yet it looks like something from a bygone era.

11 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful bit of history, Marcia, thank you. Fascinating, not to mention I love your sketch. This makes me want to go back to to the town I grew up in and sketch the places I remember--if they're still there!

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    1. I've walked by this place a zillion times. Since I have no personal connections to policemen or firemen, I never stopped to admire it or go inside. By sitting on the curb and doing this drawing, my appreciation of this place and its history and human connections swelled to a whole new level. Yet another cluster of perks from urban sketching.

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    2. The places I remember were just this size and style...my uncle's little mom and pop grocery store, the little shop where I took ceramics while in gradeschool...good memories! Neither are in business any more, but I need to draw them...

      Isn't it interesting how sketching a place piques our curiosity and deepens experience?

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    3. "I need to draw them." I know how compelling those places are that demand to be drawn. The older one gets the more urgent it becomes to get them down. "...picques our curiosity and deepens experience." YES, YES!!

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    4. I hope to sketch a couple of favorite places in the Ozarks soon, before cold weather sets in. THEN over to Independence...I think the old depot is still there, too...

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  2. Nice on a number of levels. Nice to see a business still in business. I like the sense of old in this picture and the colorful fall leaves. Bye-the-way, thanks for sending warm weather my way. I've got my shorts on today...probably the last time this year. It's supposed to be 70 here today!

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    1. I posted this late last night. When I woke, a new and better title popped into my head. From "Wertjes Uniforms: one last warm day", I'm going to change it to "Wertjes Uniforms: Open for business, Closed for the day". Which follows our budding tradition of bantering blog titles. Thanks for your appreciation of the drawing. And yes, I sent you the warmth special deliver. What's coming next isn't so nice.

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  3. Love the drawing and the narrative!

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    1. Thanks, Barbara. My husband and I joke that if he can't find it out on the Internet then all we have to do is send me out to sketch on some street corner and we'll get all the answers we need.

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  4. Very nice sketch & notes! I am hoping for a little more comfortable weather too.

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    1. At this time of year, every nice day seems like the last. And then if there more, it feels like an unexpected gift. More nice days coming up this week ahead here in Iowa!!!!

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