CLOTH AND MEMORY
45" x 34" x 8"
Detail. Click to enlarge.
My father, Herbert Cherry, lost his father, Harry, when he was 17. Harry had manufactured hospital gowns. Needing to support the family, my paternal grandmother, Gertrude, opened a dress store called the Cherry Gown Shop. She ran it until she lost her sight at age 99. Herbie took over his father’s business after finishing high school. He changed the product to women’s dresses.He got by on persistence, moxie, and good humor.
After spending the war in the South Pacific, Herbie and his brother, Albert, started over as children’s jacket manufacturers. Together, they opened a factory at 1011 Diamond Street. The business grew, and with it, the need to produce more and more. But, instead of expanding the factory, Herb sub-contracted the work to other descendants of Russian immigrants: there was a close network.
This was a good decision for many reasons: Japanese imports presented stiff competition; Many suppliers of fabric and trim, were selling out to a new wave of immigrants. The communal feeling among families of Russian refugees was disappearing. And, the Unions were making more demands.
When the factory burnt down on a New Years Eve in the late 60s, the brothers did start up again. But when Herbie had a heart attack at age 57, he decided to call it quits.