Vintage

AN HONOR FOR OUR OWNER

AWGS Logo

Members of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists (AWGS) met February 28-March 3 in Nashville, Tennessee, to discuss marketing strategies with wedding industry experts, tour the plant of Oakwood the Greener Cleaners owned by AWGS members Alan and Rhonda Wernick, and elect officers.

A highlight of the meeting was the presentation of the ninth annual Jack Barth Memorial Award of Excellence.  Initiated by Linda Stokes-Barth in remembrance of her late husband and his achievements in the dry cleaning industry, the award recognizes a member of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists for advancement, promotion, and development of industry standards for wedding gown care and for outstanding contributions and service to the Association and its members.

Accepting the Barth Award
Accepting the Barth Award

This year’s honoree, Rhonda Wernick, is co-owner of Oakwood the Greener Cleaners in Nashville, Tennessee.  As AWGS president Kermit Engh noted when he presented the award, “I first met our winner a number of years ago and have developed a friendship and deep respect for her business and her contribution to our association.”

Oakwood, already a member of AWGS, Leading Cleaners International, and Methods for Management when Rhonda Wernick and her husband Alan took over in 2011, benefits from both Alan’s expertise in business finance and software development and Rhonda’s creative art profession.  Rhonda’s special talent as a professional artist is evident everywhere at Oakwood and walking into either of the two Oakwood locations is like walking into a living room complete with comfy chairs, her own beautiful artwork and a friendly, family-like atmosphere.  Overall the Wernick’s have not only maintained Oakwood’s reputation for excellence but also taken it to an even higher level of couture cleaning and customer service.

Immediately drawn to the bridal side of the business, Rhonda has attended every AWGS meeting since 2011, served on the Board of Directors 2014-2017, and is quick to welcome new members via the AWGS discussion forum.  On the forum she often shares inspiring photos of special projects such as turning a vintage wedding gown into a unique christening gown.  She also shares ways to enhance the bride’s experience at the counter.  “We like to make a bride feel like she is the only one in the store,” says Rhonda, and each bride also receives a special keepsake when she takes her gown home–Rhonda’s hand-painted sketch of the gown.

In addition to managing Oakwood’s bridal business, Rhonda operates both DancingArt.com and BuyArtByRhonda.com.  She also gives back to her community with 9 years of service on the board of trustees of the Nashville Gordon Jewish Community Center and in many other ways including chairing and originating art events such as Nashville Temple Arts Festival and Art on the West Side.  In 2017 she was the featured artist at Art on the West Side.

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A VINTAGE GOWN STORY

Do you have your grandmother’s wedding gown and wondering what in the world to do with it? I was preserved well but had a few brown spots, probably old sugar stains. Here is what one Mother-in-law/Daughter-in-law duo decided to do.

This beautiful vintage gown came to us for spot cleaning so it could be transformed to a Christening Gown. Our first reaction was –

“But it is such a beautiful gown and should be worn!”

Back & Front of Vintage Gown

Our production manager was able to get rid of the spot right in the middle of the area that they wanted to use for the front of the Christening Gown. Now for the transformation.

When Mother-in-law and Daughter came back to see the results they were thrilled. They met with our owner and our seamstress and discussed what they envisioned the Christening Gown should look like and even had a sketch to go by. Our seamstress got to work with some sketches of her own based on what they discussed.

Christening Gown Design Sketches

After more conversation our owner created a digital layout and also supplied them with an original watercolor of the design.

Digital Design Layout

Watercolor of Christening Gown Design

Now for the fitting. The baby was brought in for measurements. Adjustments were made to the design, patterns were created and the creation was made! A custom cross was embroidered and brought to our seamstress for insertion at just the right place.

 

Beautiful Back-lit Christening Gown

Christening Gown on Disply

Baby Portrait by Ashely FarmerWe could not be more thrilled to have been given the opportunity to partner with this family in creating an heirloom to pass down from generation to generation. It is so special to share in the joyous occasions of our customers. We offer our thanks to this Mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law, the father and the rest of the family for allowing us to share this special story with you.

Photo Credit for portrait: Ashely Farmer Photography

At the Christening Ceremony

TALE OF A NAVY PEA COAT

Nancy brought in her father’s vintage navy pea coat hoping that we could restore it for her son Alex to wear. Below are some pictures of how it looked when we first received it.

Torn up inside lining before restoration
Torn up inside lining before restoration

Front and Back before restoration

Front and Back before restoration

As you can see it had definately seen better days.

George A. Love
George A. Love

George A. Love served in the Seabees in World War II and in the Navy in the Korean War.

In WWII, he was assigned to the Seabee Construction Battalion Maintenance
Unit No. 623 as a Machinist Mate Second class (MM2C).

Construction Battalion Maintence Unit 623
Construction Battalion
Maintence Unit 623

They were sent to Guiuan, Samar in the Leyte Gulf (Philippines) to build an airstrip and infrastructure.

They arrived on December 23, 1944 on a Dutch cargo ship, the M.S. Sommelsdikj.

The H.M.S. Sommelsdijk
The H.M.S. Sommelsdijk

On December 25, Tokyo Rose, a radio broadcaster of Japanese propaganda, promised the Navy boys a Christmas present.  On the morning of December 26, a Japanese plane appeared and dropped two torpedoes.  The plane then crashed into the sea when its wing tip caught the water.  One torpedo hit the ship in Hold #1 starting a fire which quickly spread to Hold #2 where most of the men were staying.  Since the ship was in a bay, the ship was purposely run aground and the men either swam to shore or were able to evacuate to another ship.  The unit was allowed to stay in the Church of the Immaculate Conception until a camp site could be built.  Many were wounded but only six men lost their lives in this attack.

Map

George safely returned from this war and went back to high school where he met
and married Nancy’s mother, Martha E. Cathey.
He was re-drafted to the Korean War and claimed this was a sightseeing tour compared to WWII.

George and Martha Love
George and Martha Love

When he returned home, he and my mother had three daughters.
He never spoke of his service to our country.

I don’t know why – possibly he thought his “girls” would not want to hear about it.

When Desert Storm began in 1990, he and I were watching it on TV and he started talking about his service.  I became fascinated and wanted to hear all about it to preserve his story.

His pea coat was passed down to 2 sisters, but passed Nancy. Nancy’s sister Cathey, found the pea coat in her closet and passed it on to Alex the younger of Nancy’s two sons. Alex is a history buff especially about World War II and Classic Rock (but that’s another story…).  By now the coat was beginning to show wear and tear.  The lining was deteriorating, the buttons kept falling off and it was dirty and musty.

I wondered if it could be restored.  I posted the question on social media and Oakwood Cleaners came highly recommended as being very good at restoring vintage wedding gowns.  I gave them a call, met with Rhonda and her seamstress and I am very happy to say the pea coat looks brand new.

Front and Back after restoration
Front and Back after restoration
Inside after restoration
Inside after restoration

Alex is beyond Proud to continue to wear his grandfather’s Navy Pea Coat in honor of not only his grandfather but of our military and the sacrifices made for our country

Alex wearing George's  Navy Pea Coat
Alex wearing George’s
Navy Pea Coat