“Stressed? It’s ok to take a break.

Because thinking about your wedding should make you smile. Not cry.”

Planning a wedding can be stressful. Trust us, we know.

Welcome to this week’s Blog,  Today we dive into the fun but sometimes stressful topic of Planning Your Wedding.   Visit Elegant Whims   where we offer partial as well as full planning packages.

We are showcasing, Christi & Perry, Elegant Whims clients in today’s Blog.

Enjoy,

Elegantly,

Patti & Melinda

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“Stressed? It’s ok to take a break.

Because thinking about your wedding should make you smile. Not cry.” 

Planning a wedding can be stressful. Trust us, we know.

In the mess of contracts, deciding which color the napkins should be, which hotel your future spouses out of town family is going to stay, and everything else that goes along with planning a wedding – it can be easy to lose a little of the excitement.

Our suggestion?

Take a breath, and take a break. 

Pick a day and have a date night (or day!). Don’t take any wedding calls, don’t talk about the wedding, and try not to think about the wedding. The whole reason the wedding is even taking place is because you’ve found someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. So spend a little of your life together before the wedding.

While we may not be the biggest fans of over using Pinterest when it comes to wedding decor, it does have a lot of great date ideas if you need help remembering what a date night is.

zoodownload (8)baseball game

Look up a recipe and make it together, pack a picnic, take it to Eden Park, Alt Park, or down by the river. Drink some wine, and just enjoy each others company.

The possibilities are endless – do whatever it is that makes the two of you happy, whether that’s rock climbing or netflix. The only rule is you cannot discuss the wedding.

Then in the morning, stretch and smile: You’re getting married. 

Have a lovely week,

Elegantly,

Meredith

Elegant Whims Assistant

Merideth

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Extraordinary Fall Weddings from Elegant Whims

Don’t  plan an Ordinary Fall Wedding,   Create an  EXTRAORDINARY Fall Wedding Day!

With Elegant Whims.

I have always loved “Fall” it is my favorite season.  The sound of rustling leaves on an evening walk.  The smell of  baked apples, applesauce and apple pies emanating from my kitchen.   Warm sweaters and Hot Apple Cider (yup I love Apples).  All these changes tell me it is time for fires in the fireplace and Football on Sunday afternoon, Monday, Thursday…..O.K.  That’s a different Blog.

As a Wedding and Event Planner, we are seeing an increase in Fall Weddings.  There is beauty is every season, and it is different for each couple.  At Elegant Whims we love the challenge of designing and thinking outside the box, making your wedding memorable and one that will stand out in your guest minds for years to come.

Enjoy our Blog this week, as always, a big thank you to Meredith for her extraordinary writing skills!

Elegantly,

Patti & Melinda

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Fall weddings are my favorite.

Actually anything having to do with Autumn is my favorite.

I’m a sucker for sweaters, and boots, and scarves, and apple cider, and bonfires and anything else that has to do with the season.

The danger with fall weddings?   Just as with summer weddings it is easy to pick, over used colors and themes.

Colors:

Overused: Orange/brown. Everyone loves the warm orange coupled with a crisp brown; but there are plenty of other options in the autumn color pallet.

Underused: Plumb, Green, dark mustard, and blue. Any combo of these four colors go well together and give your wedding the fresh crisp look you’re going for – without being reiterated at your guests next wedding.

the knot

the knot

the knot

the knot

Themes/decorations:

Overused: Country Chic. Period. Barns are lovely, as are pumpkins, burlap, and leaves. Other options are available.

Underused: Flowers that bloom in the fall, but don’t aren’t in the “autumn colors” category necessarily, like  Amaranths. This will add a crazy pop of color into the usual browns and reds, making it eye catching and memorable.

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Globe Amaranth

Amaranths Varieties are endless

brown orange

Fall bouquet 3

say i do Cincinnati, OH

say i do florist Cincinnati, OH

Different varieties of squash are also great options for an alternative to pumpkins.

the knot

the knot

say i do  Cincinnati, OH

      say i do
Cincinnati, OH

Table numbers

use gourds instead of pumpkins

That’s my two cents for the week!

Have a great Wednesday,

Elegantly,

Meredith

Elegant Whims Intern

Merideth

Why I Wished I had hired a Wedding Planner

One Bride’s Horror Story and why she wished she had hired a Wedding Planner…………

Budget for a Planner for happy  Wedding  Memories….

It is back to school time for Meredith, so she has the week off.   But do not fear she is working on a fabulous blog for next week all about ……………………….   Come back next Wednesday and find out……

Enjoy this weeks blog and have an Elegant Day

We have all heard stories of mishaps and disasters at weddings.  After the fact, we laugh and say, “Oh what a great story that makes”.  At the time it is happing, all involved are stressed, frantic, crying, upset, you name it.  All in all it ruins the moment and unfortunately the mishaps are what they remember.

Here is one brides story……………………………………………………………………..

April 28, the wedding date.  Not the month I wanted to hold my wedding, April is traditionally called, by the weather service, the beginning of Tornado Season.

  • I was born the night a tornado took out a good part of the city I was born in.
  • Several times tornados have hit close to my home.
  • One April, while under a Tornado Warning, I opened the front door, (yes I know not a smart thing to do), and stared that mammoth whirlwind coming toward me.
  • Once while driving up I-75 North, I witnessed a Tornado going East behind me.

Do I need to go on?  I wanted to choose October for our Wedding Date, but Dad vetoed that, saying that as he always went Salmon fishing in October.   Summer is too hot.  Winter always has unpredictable weather, and as we had several out of town guest driving, that was out.

So April it was.

Good news, No Tornado on our Wedding Day, it chose to Rain.

I am an organized person.  I had my checklist, and was ready.  Everyone knew where to be and when.    When you have to depend on friends and family and not a professional, things go awry.

Like most, I had dreamed and planned this day since I received my first doll in a bridal gown.  I practiced how to walk down the aisle.  I envisioned the flower girl dropping rose petals to announce my entrance.  I heard Ava Maria being played as I looked into my husband’s eyes as we said, “I Do”.  Yes, I had it all planned out, I knew my vision inside and out, I had my checklist, everyone involved was advised of the plan.

April 28………. I woke up to rain.   I was determined not to let rain spoil my wedding day.  After all it wasn’t thundering and lighting, no Tornado Watches’ or Warnings, I could deal with a little drizzle.

I had chosen to have the bridesmaids dress at my home and have pictures taken there prior to the Wedding Ceremony.  That all went well.  It was relaxed and fun with lots of laughter.  It was a full house and we were all having a great time.

Pictures were finished so it was time for everyone to leave for the Ceremony.   My brother was in charge of taking the bridesmaids to the Church. My parent’s vehicle was large enough to seat all the bridesmaids. He would drop them at the church and return for Mom, Dad and Me.

I might mention at this point, I choose a Southern style dress with an enormous skirt with a very full crinoline slip.  I also might add that the only other cars at my house were SMALL cars.

Brother dear didn’t come back and didn’t come back; it was getting later and later.  My dad, (who is a stickler for being on time), said,” pick a car we are leaving NOW”.  So my mom “SHOVED” me and my dress into the back seat of my Camero.  You cannot image what a scene that was!  I couldn’t even see out the windows, all I saw was white lace of my beloved dress everywhere I looked.

Meanwhile at the Church, the priest told my fiancée, that if I didn’t get there soon, he would have to marry the maid of honor, because this wedding was taking place on time.  YEIKS!!!!!!!!!!!!

As we arrived at the Church, dad let mom and me out at the front door; he went to park the car.  As mom and I walked into the Foyer of the Church, we were shocked to be looking at our guests, who  were looking back at us.  The doors to the main Church were closed and the ushers were looking confused. 

I had a plan, we had a rehearsal, How could this be happening!!!

I ran into the ladies room, where the bridesmaids were gathered.  Of course there was a flurry of, “Where have you been?” and “What took so long?”    A friend that was taking care of the flowers and lighting the candles, came in to inform us the priest had decided we were not allowed to light the candles on the altar.  Somehow he failed to inform us of this fact in all of our previous meetings.

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the tears started flowing.  I excused myself and went into a stall.  A few minutes later, I walked out into an empty room. Where was everyone? Where was mom?  I opened the door still crying and saw my dad waiting for me.  He looked at me and didn’t know what to think as he saw the tears flowing down my face.   He asked me if I wanted to call it off and I said, “NO, I want my candles lit!”  He wasn’t sure what I was talking about so he took my hand gave me a kiss on the check and down the aisle we went.

The sad thing, at this point I was so upset, I don’t remember seeing the all important rose petals lining the path to my fiancée.

The ceremony went according to plan right up to the end.  The organist had not played “Ava Maria”; I was very clear in my plan that this was an important song to me.  I looked at my husband with a bewildered look, the priest asked if something was wrong and my husband said, “No”.

So much for hearing, ”Ava Maria” on my wedding day.

Off to the reception…………….

The reception venue looked beautiful.  The food was fantastic, the cake lovely and the band fantastic.  True to the rest of the day, two hours into the reception, half of the band members started to pack up and leave.  My mom was in a panic and I, once again was on the verge of tears.  Mom stopped one of the band members and he told her they had been filling in for the main band members, as they had a gig that didn’t finish in time for them to start playing at our reception.   REALLY!!!!!!!!!!

The other band members arrived and played to the end of the evening and were sure to search me out to find out who had their payment.

The Bridal Bouquet toss was fun except for the fact the photo of me throwing the bouquet looked like a Barbie arm.

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My new husband being 6’4 tossed the garter and it landed in the Chandelier.   I am looking around for someone from the venue to get a ladder and retrieve the garter…………………

garter

My husband and I slipped out as the last guests were leaving.  I am happy to report the rest of the evening went off without a hitch.  Except for the fact I came got sun poisoning, we had a wonderful honeymoon.

I thought I had it all under control. I had dreamed and envisioned that day so often I just knew I could do it all on my own.   I realize now I could have alleviated the stress and tears if I had hired a professional to handle the details that I thought I had under control.  A professional that would have know about the band and checked on the transportation.  A professional would have known what questions to ask.

I hope you enjoyed my story, thanks for reading.

I would like to introduce you to our Bride Blogger today.  She is someone I have know all my life.

The bride in this story is me, Patti Davis.

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                    April 28, 1979

My wedding is one of the reasons I wanted to become a Wedding Planner.  I never want to hear about a bride going through some of the mishaps I experienced.

Be sure to visit us at;

www.elegantwhims.com

Certified Wedding Planners

Elegantly,

Patti & Melinda

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Confessions of a Wedding Planner Intern

Confessions of a Wedding Planner Intern

What I learned while hiding in the shadows of your wedding. 
Happy Wednesday Everyone!
This is a very special edition of “Tips & Trends from Elegant Whims”
Melinda and I want to take this opportunity to Thank our summer interns, Meredith and Caitlyn for their help.  Caitlyn, a student at Ohio University has headed back for her senior year.  Graduating  Spring 2016 with a degree in  Communications. We wish her all the best and the door to Elegant Whims is always open!
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Meredith a student a NKU will be with us for a few more years until she graduates.   She has taken over writing our Blog. Can I just say this has been an enormous help!   Melinda and I have been brought into the 21st Century, introducing us to Instagram, and a You Tube channel.  ( I learned it is called a Channel and not a Station)
In this Blog she is relating what she has learned from us, but this has been a two way street.
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Elegantly,
Patti & Melinda
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What I learned while hiding in the shadows of your wedding. 

Around late April this year it occurred to me that I may want to pursue something other than Stage Management just to make sure that I was in the right field.

Since Wedding Planning has many of the same elements as Stage Management (or so Google told me), I sent my resume to several different companies in the Cincinnati area to see if any were hiring.

Elegant Whims met me by accident while I was speaking with another planner. Two days later they called me asking if I would be interested in taking a position. Even though it was unpaid, I’ve never been happier with my decision to be on their team.

Patti and Melinda immediately took me under their patient and guiding wings. Using humor and sharp observation skills – they showed me the ins and outs of the wedding world.

Since May, I’ve helped with over 5 weddings, each with different challenges and obstacles that I witnessed being smoothed over. While I followed Patti and Melinda around like a puppy I was able to pick up on a few things:

1.) Wedding Planning isn’t about the wedding 

It’s about the memories of the wedding. Planners essentially make sure that all of the Bride’s memories from that day are good ones. It’s our job to make sure that she doesn’t know that the groomsmen were almost late for pictures. Or that the florist didn’t label the corsages. Or that the caterers set up the tables with the wrong amount of chairs at each one. This is wedding planning. This is what we do.

Table

2.) Humor can get you through anything 

I’ve always been a firm believer of this, but Patti and Melinda are experts. No matter how stressful, no matter how difficult, there is always something to laugh about. If all else fails, shrug and say “Ooookay.” then smile do your best to fix whatever situation as at hand.

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3.) Save your comments for the car.

Not everything goes our way, and that’s fine. It’s part of the job. Never let it show. Besides – it makes the ride home much more interesting, while enjoy a Coke Zero.

ride home

4.) Sometimes people ask you what to do and you have to make it up. 

The day I got the Elegant Whims badge was the day people started asking me what to do. Apparently having and badge and a timeline makes you qualified to answer questions. Who knew. I’ve told so many people where to put chairs and or where to park their cars. The first time it happened I hunted down Melinda and asked if my answer was correct. Melinda laughed and said thats why I was there. I have since embraced my new power.

badge

5.) It’s not eves dropping if you’re helping people.

over half of my job consisted of hearing grievances and reporting back to Patti and Melinda, or just taking care of it myself. Guests saying they couldn’t find their seat, or a vendor wondering if they got a meal, or maybe a child begging his mom for cake and mom not knowing when that was happening. I had answers for all of those things (the badge again) so why not make them known? Some would call it eves dropping, I call it volunteering my services.

Needless to say, I’ve loved my summer with Elegant Whims.

I can’t wait to see what more I’ll be a part of this coming fall.

Until next week,
Elegantly,
Meredith Russell
Elegant Whims Intern
Merideth

Top Ten Ways Pinterest Has Dominated the Wedding World

Because you should be able to tell the difference between your boss’s daughter’s wedding photos and your own.

In the past two years we have seen Pinterest dominate our Bride’s Wedding Vision.   While we enjoy offering a “Secret Board” for our Brides, we also offer design tips on putting a spin on their ideas, so their Wedding reflects the couple’s personalities.      Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t walk into Dillard’s and buy the same outfit your friend just bought because you loved it.   You would look around and find the style and color that fits You.

This is a humorous look at how Pinterest influences our lives.    Thank you Meredith for this fun look into Pinterest.

Elegantly,

Patti & Melinda

Pottinger Photography

Pottinger Photography

 

Elegant Whim’s Top Ten Ways Pinterest Has Dominated the Wedding World.

1)  Mason Jars

Anywhere. Seriously. There is other glassware available. Unless you are actually using it for canning purposes, look at other options before using these. We’re not saying you can’t find a unique way of incorporating them – but it will be have to be incredibly creative at this point.

* Planners Note:  Visit your local thrift stores or charter stores, ( Goodwill etc.)  you purchase all types of unique glassware to use as vases.  It doesn’t have to be a vase, to be used as a vase.

Replace mirror  with a circle of burlap  instead of a table runner.                                       Fay the edges and you have your own take on a pinterest pin.                        Replace several of the flowers with baby's breath

Replace mirror  with a circle of burlap  instead of a table runner.                                       Fay the edges and you have your own take on a pinterest pin.                        Replace several of the flowers with baby’s breath

mason jars

.

2.) Chalkboard signs. Any kind.

Chalkboard art can be a beautiful way to include a talented cousin or sibling, but white curly cue writing does not art make.

seat sign   Have the seating chart printed seating chart 2

and framed in distressed wood

3.) Twinkly lights

Lighting is a huge part of the reception. Unfortunately, regular icicle lights are everywhere. There are other soft lighting options out there with different ways of hanging them, etc. Do a little digging.  Here are a couple.

wedding-reception-lighting-photo                      lighting2

4.) Outdoor weddings

In the pictures it looks like a fairy tale. In reality it’s sticky, buggy, hot, dirty, and it might rain. Food for thought.

wedding-insurance-bad-weather-outdoor

5.) Gold Glitter.

Ladies. Please. It gets everywhere. There are other things that sparkle

glitter

.

  Instead, use a scented body   glimmer powder that will give you a   subtle glimmer and lovely fragrance.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Instead, use a scented body  glimmer powder that will give you a   subtle glimmer and lovely fragrance.

6.) Wood

It’s a natural resource, it’s durable, and you can do anything with it. That doesn’t mean you should do EVERYTHING with it.

wood imagesrusticWeddingCake

7.) Burlap

If you have a fresh (and we mean fresh) take on it, by all means go for it. Otherwise, we’re ok with never seeing another burlap table runner for as long as we live.

8.) Date idea/ marriage advice guest book

Usually on popsicle sticks that go in mason jars. Your wedding is not the only one that your guests will have to attend this year – give them a break from trying to think too hard. Most of them just want to wish you well anyway. Your single friends will especially thank you.

* Planners Note:  Choose something you can use as decor in your new home. That way it will be a reminder of everyone that shared your Special Day and not collecting dust on a shelf or worse yet, tossed out when you move.

9.) Candles

They’re beautiful. Who’s going to light them/get rid of them when they burn out?   Other options, test the candles before you buy them in bulk.   This way you will know if they will last the 6-8 hours needed for the reception time.   What time of day is your reception, chances are if it is in the summer, it doesn’t get dark until 9 or after.   Use the battery operated ones,they have a great life span.

10.) Tin buckets/watering cans as vases and/or drink coolers.

Real vases really aren’t that bad, and actual coolers work better. If you are going to go for the tin though, at least decorate them. Just not with burlap.

* Planners note;  At my son and daughter in law’s rehearsal dinner, I used a large cooler, draped it with  white satin and lined with white clean plastic.   Filled it with Ice, added a scoop.    It worked great and the ice did not melt.  Unfortunately, I was having such a great time, I forgot to take any photos.

masonwedding1diy-mason-jar-drink-dispenser-12

All of these things can be done in a unique way. Take some time to really think about who you and your fiancé are, and how you can make even the smallest details your own. Remember that people are coming to celebrate your matrimony, not your pinterest board.

Elegantly,

Meredith

Elegant Whims Intern

Meredith

 

Pinterest……. Good OR Evil

It is Blog Wednesday at Elegant Whims, pour yourself a cup of coffee or glass of wine and enjoy!

   Chapter 1 ….  A look into a Bride’s Pinterest Boards.    Stop in next week for Chapter 2,

Thank you Meredith !

Elegantly,

Patti & Melinda

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So you have lots of awesome ideas for your wedding. 

You have a Pinterest board full of great ideas that you can’t wait to start working on.

Suddenly your phone buzzes. It’s your sister. She saw your latest pin, and her boyfriend’s sister’s friend made one just like it, and she’s sure that the boyfriend’s sister’s friend wouldn’t mind making more for a small fee.

Jelly favors    Aisle decor rustic

Wait, now your aunt just emailed you about five different pins (that you added months ago in the early stages of planning) and she’s telling you exactly how much each one will cost according to her local high-end craft store. She wants to make them all for you, and then bring them with her. On the day of the wedding. When she flies in from New Jersey.

Sound familiar?

Here’s a tip from Elegant Whims:

Make your wedding Pinterest board a secret one. Only allow the people you want to see it, see it. This way, no one is making suggestions they shouldn’t be making, and being helpful in ways that aren’t helpful.

Now that you have your own space that you can create with, here is what we suggest:

1.) Start with your venue.

You can’t create an atmosphere without a space.

2.) Decide on a color scheme.

Keep it original, and keep it under 4 colors.

3.) Use Pinterest as a tool, not a Bible.

Don’t just duplicate something just to duplicate it. Take an idea and let it spark your creativity to make it your own. Put your own twist on them, and who knows? You may end up creating the latest Pinterest Wedding Trend!

Want to know what the Top Ten Overdone Pinterest Wedding Ideas?  Check back next Wednesday, so your Wedding Photos won’t look like everyone on your Photographers Gallery.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Elegantly,

Meredith Meredith

Elegant Whims Assistant

How “Dirty Helen Paper Company”, got its name.

Today’s Blog is the story behind the name of a fantastic Stationary/Paper company in Cincinnati, OH.

Father and Daughter, Tim Ruwe and Ashley Bauer own and operate , Dirty Helen Paper Company.  We often refer our clients to them and the first question we are asked is, “Dirty Helen Paper Company, Really?

We tell them a short version of how the name came about.  Here is the longer version of this awesome story.

The article below was printed in the Shepherd Express, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin written by Matthew J. Prigge (http://shepherdexpress.com).

It is very a enlightening story, one the family loves to share.

We hope you enjoy it and remember, Dirty Helen Paper Co for all your Wedding and Event Stationary needs.

The Dirtiest Mouth in Milwaukee: The Legend of Dirty Helen

By Matthew J. Prigge

Jul. 6, 2015

dirty helen

An ad for Dirty Helen. Helen changed her last name from Cromell to “Cromwell” for use in print. She said it was easier for people to say.

“Milwaukee in the late 1920s was a town of unblushing, brawny vice rammed through with scents of European cooking, cheap perfume, and workers’ sweat… the city’s gentry tried to mislead themselves into thinking of Milwaukee as fragile and culturally dainty, but it was as strong as an American buffalo.”

– from Dirty Helen, By Helen Cromell

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“Dirty Helen” Cromell, who could out-swear any man in Milwaukee.

Photo courtesy of Dirty Helen Paper Co.

“Dirty Helen” Cromell was a legend of the Milwaukee nightlife, known to have the dirtiest mouth in town. Helen ran the barebones Sunflower Inn (1806 West St. Paul Street) for over thirty years, a favorite stop for traveling salesmen, politicians, athletes and the occasionally celebrity, including Gloria Swanson and Liberace. The Sunflower was a 20’ x 25’ room with a potbellied stove, a bar, and little else. There were no chairs or stools, and customers were expected to stand or sit on the floor. The ornamentation consisted of a huge nude oil painting behind the bar – Helen liked to tell visitors it was her, from back when she was “hustling in the Yukon.” Helen served only bourbon or scotch and mixed them only with water. A request for a cocktail inspired a tirade of filth from the hostess, but if Helen liked you – and she liked a lot of people – she’d afterward call you a “good sport” and pour you a drink on the house.

An ad for Dirty Helen. Helen changed her last name from Cromell to “Cromwell” for use in print. She said it was easier for people to say.

It was her time in Milwaukee that made Helen famous. In her raucous self-titled memoir, she tells her life story with wit, sass, and no shortage of dirty passages. Only the last 70 pages of the book cover her time in Milwaukee, but the place she presents is unlike any other published accounting of the city (well, except for maybe this one). Her story starts in ruralIndiana, where she was born in 1886. She falls in love with a boy whom her father hates, learns about sex from an older cousin (“there were no flies on her fast ass,” Helen writes), marries the boy, gets disowned, and ends up an unhappy housewife in Cincinnati. Pregnant with her second child, she learns her husband has been carrying on with a prominent Cincy madam. Taunted by the other woman over the telephone, Helen goes to her apartment, claws her face raw, and throws her head-first down a flight of stairs. In her rage, she learns that can make her own way and doesn’t need to play anyone’s fool. She starts turning tricks and sees the world. She operates in Arizona, Chicago, and San Francisco. Some of her clients fall in love with her and lavish her with gifts and cash. She falls in love herself here and there – enough for a half-dozen marriages – but her love stories always have tragic endings: heartbreaks, suicides, and loneliness. Helen writes of knowing gangsters in Chicago. She says that Al Capone had her turn around one of his low-end whorehouses. It was her job to watch the door and keep track of the cash. The men were to pay her $1.20 a turn, a buck for the girl, ten cents for the guard outside the house, and another dime “for the towel.” If you lose track of how much money you should have, Capone tells her, just count the towels.

In Superior, Wisconsin, Helen has a much more dignified role as madam of the area’s finest brothel. She makes good cash, but is driven away from the business when her latest love is pinched on a dope smuggling charge and hangs himself in his jail cell. She is heading back toChicago on the train, when she meets a salesman from Milwaukee. He says that the city might be a good fit for her. With nothing of particular importance waiting for her in Chicago, she agrees to give Milwaukee a look. She would stay there for the next 43 years.

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Helen’s Sunflower Inn, 1806 West St. Paul Avenue.

Image courtesy of Dirty Helen Paper Co.

Helen made haste in Milwaukee. She bought an old dump of a speakeasy and went back to tricking to earn the cash to fix it up. She was 40 years old by the time she hit the city’s downtown red light scene but claimed to have been the area’s most popular working girl. Her fiery red hair, sleek dress, and ample figure – she sometimes said that her chest was so large, she had to wear a cast iron bra – earned her as many as 25 clients a night. Soon, her Sunflower Inn – so named for the sunflowers that grew in its front yard – was one of the top speakeasies in town. After Prohibition ended, it became the little hole in the wall that everyone in town knew about and everyone stopping here wanted to see. The stories of her foul mouth became so legendary that she learned to perform on command. An exchange between her and her piano player – he’d get drunk and she’d pound the bartop with a cudgel, threatening to crack him a good one if he didn’t clean up his act – became a regular routine. But for a woman who had never been able to stay in one place very long, Helen seemed to get as much from Milwaukee as it did from her.

Helen made a lot of money in her various trades, but it always went fast. In Milwaukee, she had a soft spot for Marquette kids down on their luck. She couldn’t even remember how many tuition bills she paid, hating to see a kid quit school just because he couldn’t get the money. One of these cases was, according to Helen, a young man named Joseph McCarthy. She even claimed to have convinced him to drop out of the engineering program and study law.

By the late 1950s, it seemed that Helen’s luck in Milwaukee was running out. She had money problems and lost the bar (she claimed to have been swindled in a bad loan deal), leaving her with nothing more from the Sunflower than the big nude painting. Dirty Helen only covers her life up until about 1961. She downplays her troubles, but newspaper accounts from the same era depict a slow and sad decline for the woman whose company everyone in town once fancied. She owed thousands in back taxes, leading the government to cut off her monthly social security payments. The year after she lost the bar, some friends threw a benefit party for her. A newspaper article on the bash mentioned she’d had to sell some of her hats – she was always known for her lavish hats – just to get food money. Shortly after, she met up with Robert Dougherty, an old writer friend of hers, to write her memoir. By 1965, the project was completed and a publishing deal had been secured. Her half of the advance was $250. “Oh Hell,” she told a friend. “That’ll last about twenty minutes.”

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A photo of Helen from shortly before her death.

Milwaukee Sentinel, May 22, 1969

Health problems forced Helen into a series of public hospitals and nursing homes through the late 1960s. Her money was long gone, and the support she’d gotten from friends had dwindled to nearly nothing. She died on May 21, 1969 at the age of 83. The woman who once helped out Al Capone, who made a fortune selling her companionship, and who cursed out bank presidents and sailors alike, had little to show for it all in the end. But as the newspaper eulogies the next day proved, she still had her reputation. An anecdote near the end of her book, after she lost her bar, has her at a train station in Chicago, trying to catch a ride back to Milwaukee. She’s running late and the train has pulled away without her, but the conductor recognizes her as she stands on the platform. He knows the face, the red hair, the figure. He’s been to her place and enjoyed her stories. The man stops the train, and backs it up. “How ya doing, Helen?” He asks her. “Fine, Louie, fine,” she says. “You gettin’ any?” He helps her aboard and directs her to the bar car. The train then chugs back to life and takes her home.

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We hope you enjoyed a look into one of our local vendors history and how they got their name.

Elegantly,

Patti & Melinda

Pottinger Photography

Pottinger Photography