There are only two times when someone wrote a poem for me. The first was when I was a clerk at a wonderful shop called Tawana Imports on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton. It was owned by a most interesting couple, Mr. and Mrs. Bickler. Mrs. Bickler’s previous career had been a milliner at Gidding Jenny on Fourth Street, making fantastic hats for the women of Cincinnati. Mr. Bickler was a jeweler by trade and after purchasing beautiful semi-precious gemstones on their trips to Mexico ,would design jewelry for their shop. I so admired all the wondrous jewelry and exotic objects I had been exposed to while working there. It was like an internship for running a fascinating small business. Plus the jewelry………the jewelry ………I was able to buy!
After returning from their semiannual trips to Taxco, box after box of wonders would arrive. I vividly remember the colorful handwoven fabrics because within a month or so I would begin to see piece after piece of clothing transformed by Mrs. Bickler into dresses, blouses and jackets that she would sew from home and bring to the shop for sale. One of the the coats she had made from a Mexican Indian blanket was beyond my willpower to resist. I have kept it as a work of art for 40 years, even though it doesn’t fit me anymore.
The people that came into their shop were also most interesting; students, professors, artistic souls and always a young man or two who needed help purchasing a gift for someone dear to them. I enjoyed talking to all of them. I could tell who had been to Skyline for lunch by the still present smell of chili that lingered on their clothing or I would know they had ventured into my favorite neighbor, Virginia Bakery by the small white waxy bags in their hands.
One day a quiet, handsome young man came into the store. We talked about different ordinary things for a little bit of time. He left. As I was closing up at the end of the day, he came in and handed me a tiny beaded orange purse with CANADA spelled in beads in blue. I was surprised, but thanked him and he left. When I opened it, there was a paper inside with a poem he had written for me. I was bewitched to think anyone would do such a lovely thing for me. The beaded purse with the poem has always remained in my jewelry box.
The second poem also came to me as a great surprise. Two years ago when we had a party to celebrate 30 years in business , my partner Mary Pat and I invited friends , family and some of the many people that had been a part of our business over the years. My son Evan had a great friend named Nick Davis Dewey when he went to Mercy Montessori. As sometimes happens, the parents can become friends too. Nick’s Dad, Art Dewey and I have a lot in common. One was that we love tea. I have spied him on cold rainy days sipping on a hot cup of tea in the Cafe. On the night of our party, Arthur arrived with a gift in hand. I was all a flutter as he handed me a paper. I read it and once again was amazed at the idea that a poem had been written in my honor. That one I will share with you.
A Bonbon for the BonBonerie A. J. Dewey
It has been always a matter of taste.
Even those frantic first ingredients
displayed that touch, a subtle chemistry, sweet, not saccharine, elegant as tea.
Two women conjured against common sense and made the unusual their business.
They changed the standards of this river town, spinning dulcet dreams in each confection, daring young and old to enjoy a taste
that goes beyond those tired just desserts. Doctors are ever counseled not to harm,
But who will tempt us to savor life's charm,
if not those who, stirring for desire's sake,
can ice a dead queen's quip: "Let them eat cake!"