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2017-02-23

Dusty memories made bright and shiney

By Gail Joiner BCC Publisher

Following lunch at the Camp Verde General Store on Thursday, Feb. 16, the Dutch Treat Luncheon Club of Pearsall made the trek to the Collins of Texas Medina factory showroom on St Hwy 16 in Medina, then to the Leather Bank of Bandera, a Collins store.
According to Francis Karasek, one of the founding members, the Dutch Treat Luncheon club was created in the early 1950s. The club enjoys a monthly field trip designated by the hostess of the month, which rotates between members. Karasek whipped, “Through the years we’ve been called by many names. One man in Pearsall calls us the go-go girls.”
Upon arrival, the ladies were greeted by Goli Parstabar, who deputized each of the members as Ambassadors for Collins of Texas. She proceeded to provide a brief history of the Collins handbag and it’s founders, Enid and Frederick Collins as well as her visions for the future of her beloved project.
The Parstabar family purchased the dormant company in 1992. In early 2012 Parstabar left her position with Harry Winston with plans to devote herself to reorganizing and updating the company to match and exceed its glorious past. Her plans are to rebuild the company utilizing the classic elegance of it’s historic past and create a future with innovative upgrades in style and design to fit the modern needs of today. She hopes to re-establish production at the original manufacturing facilities in Medina, providing industry in Bandera County. Plans for the facility also include a museum for touring the history of handbags to showcase the lifestyle evolution of the modern woman since the turn of the century. Collins of Texas is currently operating under a Limited Partnership Company (LLC).
Parstabar directed the ladies to a counter displaying the two original vintage designs recreated for 2016 in the classic Collins bag style with double straps and wooden bottoms. “Sleigh Ride” features a horse drawn sleigh, ornately jeweled with vintage Collins jewels. (Sleigh Ride was sold out at Christmas, so was represented by a stylish identification card describing its qualities.) “The Best of Texas” displays the iconic state outline with a jeweled bird and a bluebonnet. Beside the display were two additional displays covered by black Collins of Texas shopping bags.
In closing, Parstabar explained, “In honor of your visit, today, I would like for you ladies to be the first to see our two newest creations. They are resurrections of vintage art with slight variations from the vintage style to complement the lifestyle of today’s women.” With that said, she asked for two volunteers from the group to unveil “Kit” and Roadrunner”. “Kit” is a black jeweled cat on a short wooden bottom tote featuring slightly longer double straps for the woman who likes to tuck her handbag up under her arm, over her shoulder. One of Collins’ vintage roadrunner designs is being re-introduced as “Roadrunner” on a slightly elongated tote with a shoulder strap.
Upon completion of her presentation, Parstabar escorted the ladies to the next room to enjoy refreshments while they explored the showroom. The ladies shared their fondest memories of the stylish fashion statements of the past.
Francis Karasek recalled, “We used to come to Medina to purchase our bags. My first was a box for $35”.
Camilla Wallace said, “We lived in Midland. We bought all our bags at Grammer Murphy. My first was a box featuring amber flowers”.
Virginia Griffin recalled, “One year all of the children saved our money to buy my mother a bag. It was a jeweled bag with a flap. She died at 99 and I got the bag”.
Diane McKinley laughed as she said, “My first was a box with a flower design. I had all of my bags stored in a cedar chest when a tornado took the chest. They were in pieces all over the field where the chest landed”.
Judy Voss described her first bag, “It was a bag with a Carriage design. I bought it in 1964 at Julians in Uvalde. In 1970 I bought a white one that said love, because it was the year that I got married”.
Sally Stacy remembered, “We came here, from Pearsall, every year with my mother and her best friend”.
Carolyn Morris chuckled, “My first bag was probably 1957. It was a small bag with a Love Bird. I bought one for my mother and one for my daughter. My daughter used hers for self-defense. When boys at school would pinch her, she would hit them with the bag”,
Bobbie Boening said, “My first bag was the Fruit Basket, sometime around 1962. My mother had the Watermelon design. My husband, Forest, was a Captain in the Army and we were living in Italy. Any time I carried the bag, people would stop me and ask where I got it. I would always say Texas. But one day I was walking along the lower level of the Coliseum when I hear someone yell, ‘Hello down there, you with the Collins bag!’ I looked up and there was a lady pointing at me. It was Enid Collins. We had a very nice visit that afternoon”.
Having toured the showroom and visited with the ladies, I too can recall the design of my first Collins bag. Living so close to Medina, my mother and I had several between us. I can still remember most of the designs. I always thought it strange that I would remember something like that when I can’t remember where I’m supposed to be at 2 o’clock tomorrow. But the ladies have restored my confidence. This last recollection says it all.
Sylvia Glazner said, “When my mother died in 1994 there was a Collins bag in the top of the closet. Somehow it got into the children’s ‘dress up’ pile. I will never forget, when one of the grand daughters walked into the living room carrying it, Aunt Gwen jumped up and yelled ‘Oh NO, that’s MY bag!’”