Picture from an Awards Dinner for Home Interiors, Inc. in 1960. Mary Crowley is on the left, Sunny Wilson is on the right, next to Mary’s son, Don Carter. I apologize for the damaged photo and not knowing the names of the two women in the center. This is the only photograph I can find of Mary and Sunny, although many were taken during the years they worked together.
Entrepreneurship Opens The Door
Mary Crowley, the Sunday School teacher who had organized her class to bring prepared food and groceries to Sunny’s family during the winter of recovery, stepped into her life again in the late summer of 1954. This time she became the light at the end of the tunnel that finally started Sunny on the beautiful road to solid ground financially.
Mary had a special understanding of Sunny’s predicament. Years before she, too, had been left with two young children, but without a husband’s support. To put food on the table, she began working in a local Montgomery Wardsand discovered she had a knack for salesmanship.She also realized that as the bread-winner, she needed more than a high school education. So she put herself through business school while working at the department store, and then moved with her children to Dallas, Texas.
There, she became an accountant/salesman for one of the larger downtown furniture stores. During the Post War building and baby boom, she grew more and more aware of the huge numbers of the young families buying their first homes and wanting to make them beautiful.So she began sharing information with customers about putting pictures on the wall, selecting pretty lamps, choosing complementary colors in the upholstered furniture, as well as explaining the store’s finance terms. Very soon she became their leading salesman.
But in early 1954, (while Sunny was recuperating at home) Mary left the established business to work on a new venture with Dick Kelly selling decorative objects for the home on the “party plan.” They called it World Gift Company since most of the merchandise was imported, similar to the products now sold at Pier One. Dick made the executive decisions, while Mary became the sales executive to recruit and train the women who became their independent representatives.
They sold each new recruit at least one large suitcase full of samples to show at the party. Then she trained them with many creative ways to use the items for home decor and got them started by presenting at the first two or three parties that the newbie booked.The official training continued every Monday when Mary showed additional possibilities for using the decorations; she also shared stories about how and why each imported item had been made and used in its country of origin. And she made the sales meetings the most upbeat, inspirational programs anyone could imagine.
When Mary realized that selling insurance was providing neither the income nor the satisfaction that Sunny wanted, she recruited her to sell for the new company part-time while she also taught school as she had done the year before. Sunny couldn’t begin to pay for the cost of the suitcase full of samples and sales aids that she needed, so Mary kindly lent her the money and let her repay the debt over several months of work.
When school started in September, Sunny had to miss the Monday sales meetings, but again Mary came to her rescue by offering extra phone support as well as tape recordings of sales talks.Also, she mailed out inspiring sales letters every week to every one involved with new stories and new ideas about the products.So, Sunny happily addedteaching home decorating lessons at parties to her lessons in poetry and public speaking at her school.
Each month became less of a struggle with money than the month before. By the end of the school year in 1955, just one year after facing total financial destruction, she decided to leave teaching her beloved students to selling full-time because it was so much more profitable. And she had the privilege of spending all of her working hours concentrating on creating beauty. One year after that, she had earned enough rewards from World Gift Company to win a one week free vacation in Mexico City for herself and as a high school graduation present for her daughter.
When some disturbing issues arose between Dick Kelly and Mary over executive decisions in 1957, Mary left World Gift to begin her own company, Home Interiors. She asked Sunny to join her as executive assistant. The two had become close friends in the previous three years and knew they could work well together. And Sunny had social and business skills that complemented Mary’s talents.
Home Interiors grew rapidly. By 1983, at its twenty-fifth anniversary, sales topped $400,000,000. And profits were over $20,000,000. By the early 1990’s, after Mary’s death, sales were over $850,000,000. Her son, who had continued to run the company, sold it during the nineties.
But Mary and Sunny had led the company to its early successes as great friends and as co-workers.The friendship continued, but the business relationship ended when Sunny’s daughter finally found the man of her dreams – a step father. But that’s another chapter in the life of this beautiful woman.
Copyright 2018 by Kaye Fairweather
This Is A Beautiful Woman: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1877
This is a picture taken at a tea honoring the women in the back row who were graduating from college in 1953 despite having started the process at a later date than usual. Sunny is second from the right. Her daughter and her best friend, recruited to serve as kitchen help, sit on either end of the sofa. Sunny’s mother is second from left. The gracious hostess and Sunny’s favorite college professor is seated on the sofa at the far right.
The Tough Summer of 1954
Although grateful and inspired by the many kindnesses extended to her family during the bout with hepatitis, Sunny was delighted to began earning a living again. The only problem was that she could bring home just about six weeks of pay before the schools closed for the summer. Still, she and her children were eager to work at any job available because it felt so good to be independent again.
Sunny took classes so she could sell insurance door to door during the summer and planned to add weekends during the school year. However, that was not a good career move for her particular talents. She doggedly put in the time and foot work, but never did quite well enough to consider herself a success or to become comfortable in that venue.
The older son, whohad graduated from Washington’s elite, preppy Capitol Page School in May, came back to Dallas and found work as a hod carrier on one of the big buildings going up down town. He earned enough at that to save some for college in the fall and to help fill in a few of the gaps for the rest ofthe family.
The daughter, still in high school, kept up her baby sitting career in the neighborhood.She earned a few shekles for spending money and frequently helped purchase gas at twenty-five cents a gallon for the family car.
Sunny’s mother continued to live with them for awhile and cheerfully contributed portions of her social security check to help out as she could.
Despite the joy of beginning to recover from total financial devastation, the Tough Summer of 1954 was the hardest period financially that Sunny and her family had to face.For example, many times they drove to town well after dark to put a house or utilitypaymentin the night depository box so they could avoid the late penalties which would start at the beginning of the next business day.
Another frequent trial was buying gas. At a time when all service stations were full service, they frequently purchased two or three gallons at a time because that was all the money they had. Even so, they didn’t always make it back to the house or station before car ran out of gas again. Then they would have to ease the car to park it in front of the nearest stranger’s house, and walk to a nearby gas station to buy enough to start the car again, if anyone had any money. If everyone in the car was flat broke, they just walked home until they could afford to rescue the car.
Fortunately, the big bad city was much safer and friendlier in 1954 than it is today. No one worried about the car being stolen or tires slashed before they could return with a gas can to begin a new trip. The strangers in the house near where they parked never complained. The police never gave Sunny a ticket or had the car towed.And when they did get the car back home, they always left it in plain sight in the drive with the keys in the ignition —- for fear of ever losing the keys. They continued doing this at least until the early 1970’s without any anxiety or loss.
Also, they never locked their doors – even when going away for the weekend. Actually, Sunny never was quite sure just where the door key was and didn’t find it until she packed up to move to another town, years later. The term, home invasion, had not been invented yet and no one would have known what it meant, should he hear the term.If burglar alarm systems were available at the time, only the ultra rich knew about them.
A big sacrifice for the daughter was to reluctantly give the family dog to the neighbors three doors down because there just was not enough left over scraps to keep him alive, even with the bacon grease gravy she had learned to make for him. And buying dog food was totally out of the question. Many days, a half piece of bacon a day for each family member was all the meat they could afford.
Although it was a tough summer, everyone pitched in to help any way possible. No one gaveup hope,grew depressed, or became angry with either God or society. Yes, life was more onerous than they had expected, but never impossible. They still laughed at each other’s jokes; still listened to classical music on vinyl records; still reminisced over escapades from New Mexico; and they still teased about how hard they all worked to get a college degree for Sunny. College life for a whole family had also started a new tradition that they continued – keepingthe Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary near the dining table.That made it easy to reseach new words that came up during dinner conversation.Any time that any of the family heard a new word, they talked about it. Often one word would lead to another and then, another. While the practice improved vocabulary without the kids catching on, it also cultivated their social skills. Times were tough, but Sunny and her family were tougher and just as much fun to be around as ever.
This is a picture proof of Sunny’s three children taken during her freshman year in college.
This Is A Beautiful Woman: https://wordpress.com/post/oneeyehalfsense.com/1877
While mankind’s intellectual achievements have increased by magnitudes in the centuries since Plato’s and Socrates’ era, in 2018 we still stand on their shoulders to get our “better view” of the world. In many ways we still rely on their fundamental understanding of the nature of man as we search for wisdom and ideas appropriate to our present situation.
Or, as Dr. John Cuddeback has claimed, “Nothing is said that has not already been said by a Greek.”
Musicians, educators, and music lovers during the intervening centuries have often found these early philosophers’ emphatic insistence on the importance of music in education somewhat curious, if not bizarre. Plato, et al, believed that music not only prepared one’s mind to easily learn, it also trained the soul to seek justice. Music, mathematics, and rhetoric were The three pillars ofGreek education. They maintained that music was of primary usefulness, not only to young school children, but also an integral part of training the military forces.In fact, they asserted thatmusic is the highest form of communication.
However, in the Twentieth and Twenty-first centuries, too often music is just considered “nice.” It would be a “nice” addition to the curriculum if the school board can figure out a way to include something, anything, that could possibly be called “music education.” More frequently, it is ignored because “nice” does not compel. In today’s American culture, music education in the early grades appears to be reserved for those who can afford the “niceties” of private schools and/or private music lessons.
But, are we becoming “too big for our britches?” Have we traded wisdom for technology instead of adding technology to wisdom?
In recent years, there have been numerous scientific experiments that support the early Greeks’ understanding of music as foundational to education. Thus,*Andrew Pudewa, Director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, believes music training can be a way to “build more RAM” into one’s brain. One source he cites is a 1997 study on preschool children. Before dividing them into groups, all took the same I.Q. test. Then one group spentsix months of keyboard training, while a second group had six months of instruction in singing, a third group received training in using computers, and the last group spent their months in free play. At the end, all four groups took the same I.Q. test again. The group of pre-schoolers who spent six months learning to play music on a keyboard increased their spatial-temporal I.Q. scores by an average of 46%, far higher than the other three groups. Obviously something happened in their brains to make that big of a jump in mental ability. Let me repeat that to be certain you understand: a mere six months of training pre-schoolers to play music on a keyboard increased their cognitive abilities by 46%.
The bigger jumps in mental ability through learning to play a musical instrument occurs primarily in the younger ages. Still, older children and adults can improve test scores by listening to classical music while studying and just before tests. The Piano Guys, who have done much to popularize good music, even offer YouTube videos to accompany study sessions. They call it **The Ultimate Study Music: 90 Minute Cram Jam.
Another source for information about music training – playing an instrument, not just music theory, that is – is a commercial web site for the National Educational Music Company: nemc.com. It offers numerous general interest articles about the benefits of music training for children under the Support tab.
The proposition that was posited by the Greek philosophers thousands of years ago, has been proven in scientific experiments during the last 50 years on people and labratory rats. Thus, we can say with certitude that good music improves mental ability in humans and animals. Some have even concluded that plants are affected by music, but that’s another subject altogether.
The bottom line is that the practice of trainingyoung children to play musical instruments is not as wide spread as it should be. Since three to ten year-olds can not purchase or rent musical instruments, employ teachers, or drive themselves to lessons, it is imperative that some adult provide that gift for them. If you, as an aunt, uncle, god-parent, grand-parent, parent, or friend of the familiy, have a young child in your life, please help him take music lessons. That sacrifice on your part probably will not result in a new child prodigy going out on a new concert tour. No. It will be much better than that!
The result will be that all of mankind will benefit from intelligent people growing up to solve old problems, create new techniques to improve life, design better structures, and increase understanding between members of the human race.
Is it possible to leave a more beautiful legacy than that?
Copyright 2018 by Kaye Fairweather
*Pudewa began his career in education by working with Shin’ichi Suzuki and his method of teaching young children to play the violin in Japan and has since adapted Suzuki’s educational philosophy to other areas of education and established the IEW. One may find his speeches and footnotes on this and other scientific experiments regardingmusic and intellectual development at the website: Institute for Excellence in Writing.
In light of the above quote, it is interesting to note that Plato beginsthe Republic with the premise that living a virtuous life, however difficult it may be at times, brings happiness to the individual and to the community. (An idea foreign or even repugnant to many who live in the 21st Century.) In fact, he equates what we might translate as justice, virtue, and/or excellence in English from one Greek term.
But over five thousand years later, in today’s United States, the usual understanding of“justice” is ever evolving toward the latest group to be awarded victim status and their demands for reparations of some sort as social justice. I doubt that such an idea ever occurred to Plato.
Today, virtue signaling carries much more weight than virtue lived out. Actually, the lived out version has almost been forgotten. If mentioned in secular society, “virtue” is regarded with the same the same red faced tittering usually saved for stories about one’s aging maiden aunt who never quite fit in with the real world of fun, games, and good times.Perhaps, elderly women drinking tea together in the afternoon might mention virtue without blushing, but both cool kids and adults“know for a fact” that it’s a poisonous term that’s totally incompatible with happiness.
Interestingly enough our word “virtue” came to the English speaking world from the Latin word, vir, for men.Today, however, most men would cringe at being called virtuous even though it originally referred to manly valor. Virile is probably the most common English word derived from vir, although virago is reserved for a woman who acts bravely – like a man. It used to refer to women like Judith or Joan of Arc, but now is associated with a difficult woman, full of anger, who adopts masculine actions.
In this century, many reserve the word “excellence” for either athletic or musical performances; it would never occur tomost writers, readers, or speakers to associate it with virtuous actions or decisions.
“Only to the extent that we’re virtuous, are we able
to thrive in our human relationships.”
*Dr. John Cuddeback
Fortunately, for us sceptics who silently seethe as we watch dishonest people thrive, grow rich, and become famous even though they proudly show no interest in living a virtuous life, **Platoalso thoroughly defends his premise in later chapters.He does so, not only on the personal level, but on the level of the city-state. Thus, the great effort required to live virtuously benefits both the person and society as a whole. In fact, Plato posits that not only does living a life of virtue bringhappiness; it is happiness.
One after another Plato records the objections and examples from those ancient Greeks who questioned his premise. Their challenges resemble similar arguments that come to our minds as we read Plato. The conversations are presented as a debate, not a series of***ad hominem attacks. Plato is both thorough and eloquent as he elaborates and explains his ideas.
My favorite part is where he refutes those who think that if they are clever enough to disguise their self serving ways in order to have the reputation for being virtuous while still lying, cheating, and stealing, can find the same level of happiness as the man who actually does act justly. It almost sounds like Plato had been watching the shenanigans of some of the current denizens of our nation’s capital.
Plato ices his cake with his explanation that not only does the self-serving man not enjoy true happiness, even his supposed pleasure of living out wrong desires does not provide the satisfaction he seeks. It’s easy to see his point if one has ever watched a friend or family member descend from pursuing the escape of pain to addiction to the depths of despair and loss that often end in suicide. Or, if one observes the beautiful desire for sexual fulfillment being used selfishly until it degrades the whole culture.As time goes by, practices that were once perversions become accepted. Then applauded. And finally defended legally to the extent that those who abstain must keep their beliefs private to avoid litigation, fines, and possible imprisonment. Meanwhile, the perpetrators walk around still somewhat dissatisfied and disappointed.
Frankly his book inspired me more than many lectures and homilies about ethicial behavior from Christian or Jewish leaders. These two Greekswho lived and wrote centuries before the coming of Christ figured out logically the practical aspects of living happily even without the Jewish and Christian concepts and books that are generally considered inspired. I am amazed.
When asked how he values justice in Book II, Socrates replies:
I myself put it among the finest good,
as something to be valued
by anyone who is going to be blessed with happiness,
both because of itself and because of what comes from it.
* Dr. John Cuddeback is a Professor of Philosophy at Christendom College and author of True Friendship: Where Virtue Becomes Happiness. Some of theseideas came from two of his lectures: Plato’s Republic and The Discovery of Virtue.
**Plato wrote the book, but most of the dialogue and ideas come directly from Socrates, his mentor. So one could easily attribute this work to either philosopher since Socrates did not leave any written record.
***”When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.” Socrates
Clever conversations delight and enrich relationships – bringing beauty to all who listen and remember. Often young children contribute insights that fascinate bystanders and become family legends. Winston Churchill certainly was a legend in his own time for his way with words. In fact, one of his bitterest political enemies complimented his May 1940 speech to Parliament that roused the English people to fight Hitler rather than negotiate with him by saying, “Today, he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”
As you may have guessed, I overdosed on The Darkest Hour during the Easter holiday and that reignited my long-lived appreciation for his remarkable leadership during World War II.
Although I have never been a particular fan of Victorian architecture, I am entranced by this example of art in a mundane setting. And after spending a lifetime of seeing and using only the cheap, banal door knobs, roses, and faceplates of post WWII home building, even a glimpse of this beautiful cast brass faceplate gladdens the heart. (Sorry to see ill chosen replacement screws.) A closer look reveals decorative door knobs. Probably cast brass hinges are visible on the other side of the door and frame. I relish the care involved in creating beauty for every aspect of life.
I apologize for not knowing who took the picture or where it was taken. I would gladly give attribution if only I knew.