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Essentially Ashland

Birds of a Feather: A flock working together

Lance Pugh

During an early Saturday evening in 1976 the piano began — to spill the notes of an old ragtime tune as the spotlight focused on — the swaying curtains within the theater at Pioneer Village in Jacksonville. — Clothing from the 1880s through the 1940s was modeled for an exuberant — audience as the narrator described what each model wore in great detail. —

Between scenes Annette Pugh flowingly modeled period lingerie, — while carrying a placard across the stage announcing the next decade's — display of authentic vintage clothing, this worn by the strikingly beautiful — owners of Birds of a Feather, located in downtown Ashland.

Debbie Cordova and Cherise Stull began Birds of a Feather — in the back of Sister Moon, located next to the Colombia Hotel. Barbara — Brandt, part of Manna Bakery that made the fresh bread daily for Lithia — Grocery soon came on board. Alene Kaplan, who was working at Sister Moon, — next joined the flock in the small 200-square-foot space and business — began to take off. Rhandy Simmons flew into the nest from years at Lithia — Grocery.

Within 18 months the Birds had moved next-door to a larger — space, then, a couple years later into what is now Chateaulin's wine shop — and back dinning room. The Birds were winging their way to success.

Their business model was simple and engaging. Each of — the seven "Birds" worked one day per week at the store. On that day she — was owner, operator, sales lady and buyer. Used quality clothing was not — placed on consignment, rather cash was paid out on the spot, allowing — many in those hard financial times to walk in with a bag of old clothes — and depart with cash.

This made a big difference in the lives of many woman — who were struggling through those demanding financial times. Dignity was — afforded to all while everyone made money.

Debbie had previously been making deerskin bikinis and — squaw dresses for Nimbus, but felt the need to bring her friends into — a new venture. Every Bird had a niche market. Some focused on estate sales, — where, in addition to vintage clothing, jewelry and treasured antiques — were purchased. Garage sales, the Goodwill, Salvation Army and any other — lead or location were followed down and rigorously inspected.

Soon their store overflowed with boas, silk kimonos, Hawaiian — shirts, Victorian white eyelet cotton dresses, flapper dresses, gabardine — suits with fitted padded shoulders and big brim hats with ostrich feathers, — steamer trunks, silver bracelets and a host of broaches.

Good music was always playing in the background and it — seemed that the Birds were always in a playful and positive mood. I used — to frequent their men's department, there to buy a colorful shirt, a striking — straw hat or some irresistible collectable. They always knew what would — look good on me and I never regretted a purchase.

Birds of a Feather closed in 1985 and Pioneer Village — has been moved to Don Rowlett's Box "R" Ranch in the Greensprings. Time — has passed and things have moved on, but everyone and everything landed — on their feet.

Alene Kaplan now works at Fredrica Lawrence's store on — the Plaza, keeping the front windows fresh with dazzling displays and — merchandising the entire store. Rhandy Simmons works at the Furniture — Depot as an Interior Decorator. Cherise Stull works at an art gallery — in Portland and has a framing studio in Corbett in the Colombia Gorge. —

Debbie Cordova is running Gypsy Rose's vintage and costume — department for Nola at Renaissance Rose. Barbara Brant is busy marketing — a special fried-green tomato mixture in Hawaii. Linda Stevens is making — and marketing herbal remedies worldwide. Bonita Byrne is selling hurricanes — in Florida and business is howling.

Future columns will focus on many downtown businesses — that have helped make Ashland unique. Nimbus, Rare Earth, Alex's, Brothers — and the Log Cabin will lead the charge from decades ago to lend perspective — to the revival of the downtown. Send your favorite remembrances to: lance@journalist.com. — Drop by my blog and help me figure things out: http:essentiallyashland.blogspot.com/


A sexually compromising position

Rob Asghar

When it comes to sex, a Wisconsin pharmacist named Neil — Noesen and the Pope might be the last two consistent people on the planet. — All the rest of us are whores and compromisers.

This may seem like a surprise to social conservatives, — many of whom feel they have worked long and hard to do the uncompromisingly — right thing. But if they take a long look at what Noesen stands for, they — could come to some meaningful nuances on their positions-nuances that — wouldn't make them seem so shrill to the great mass of humanity.

Noesen, because of his devout Catholic views against birth — control, had worked out an arrangement by which another colleague would — fill any birth control prescriptions that came in. When he found himself — the only pharmacist on duty one day, he declined to fill such a prescription; — now a judge has recommended that Noesen take ethics classes and be reprimanded. —

Forget for a moment what he should or shouldn't have done — as a health-care professional and ponder the passion of his beliefs, beliefs — that the rest of the world and even most conservative Protestants dismiss — as quaint.

Family planning is considered good old-fashioned common — sense by most morally conservative Americans. It lets a married couple — enjoy the unbridled jollies of conjugal union without the setback of too — many screaming children and college funds.

Yet the Trappist monk Thomas Merton vigorously and thoughtfully — defended the Catholic church's teachings a half-century ago. He proposed — that, while human love is the fuel for the engine of creation, birth control's — manipulation of the process of creation exposed society's modern view — of love as a sham, an insincere hoarding of what is momentarily pleasurable — and a rejection of what is enduringly meaningful.

Genuine love, Merton maintained, was stronger than hunger, — pain and all the hardship implied with twelve children; as such, any effort — to stifle the birth process is a form of practical atheism, an idolatrous — sham that separates love from its life-giving consequences.

Let me address conservative Protestants for a moment — "Oh, it's not that big a deal, really," you may respond if you reserve — sexuality for marriage and now happily use the pill to stay at a manageable — 2.3 kids. But aren't those very words unsatisfying to you when they proceed — from the lips of people who are more permissive than you?

You may also say, "We're just doing the sensible, practical — thing." But more permissive people than you say the same about their own — use of birth control and condoms within broader parameters.

In our day of extended adolescence, is it always more — "immoral" for a 21-year-old to have birth-controlled sex with a lover — rather than rushing headlong into a bad marriage in which neither side — is ready for the attendant roles and responsibilities? The apostle Paul — famously wrote, "It is better to marry than to burn," but at the time — he thought the world would end in two or three years anyway, and thus — didn't believe that a bad marriage would be nearly the problem that it — can be over the long haul.

Conservative Protestants have worked their fannies off — to build an approach to relationships, marriage and society that they — feel is honorable and right for all parties involved, and there is much — of benefit for others there. Yet there are some inconsistencies there, — as the Neil Noesens of the world manage to show us.

This is relevant because of the tone of the cultural war — that's being waged. Too many conservative Protestants are able to break — society down into the camp of perfect morals and the camp of just disastrously — awful morals, which is ironic given Merton's withering judgment of them.

Yet their haughtiness has ultimately resulted in them — being tuned out of the cultural debate. And because Jesus noted that standing — up for the right thing will get you mocked, such persons see no fault — in their own prickliness and instead blame their failure to change society — solely on the irredeemable evil within society.

Thankfully, there are many socially conservatives Protestants — like Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Seminary, who can maintain their — positions with both boldness, intellectual honesty and modesty. And there — would be even more intellectual honesty and refreshing humility among — them if they realized that they, despite their best efforts, are in what — could be described as a sexually compromising position.

Tales From The Crib

Does your baby's sex matter?

Jennifer Margulis

"I really wanted a boy," my mother said of her first pregnancy. — We were sitting side by side at a faux Japanese restaurant where the food — is prepared at an enormous grill in the middle of the table. I had left — my three children at home with my husband so my mother and I could spend — some time together. A handsome Korean twirled his spatula in the air. — "And I had a boy." My mother looked pleased. In one deft movement, the — chef squirted teriyaki sauce on the tofu on the grill.

"Then I really wanted a boy," she laughed. The chef added — a heaping portion of white spaghetti to the tofu. "And I had a boy." My — mother looked smug.

The chef flipped the tofu dish onto my plate and shot — a mass of oil onto the grill. It started to sizzle. At a nearby table — I heard the squeal of delighted customers. Their chef was hurling shrimp — directly into their open mouths. Although there was space for ten others, — the rest of our table was empty.

"Then," my mother continued, "I really wanted a boy." — Something in the way she said this - her emphasis on the word really and — her forced exuberance perhaps - made me suspect she wasn't really telling — the truth. I looked down at the tofu and spaghetti on my plate. This restaurant — had been my mother's idea. "And I had a boy!" she exclaimed.

OK, boys are great. I like boys. But does anyone really — want three of the same gender in a row?

"Then," my mother paused for a moment and pointed at me, — "I really wanted a girl." Her voice was full of remembering how much she — wanted me to be a girl. "And I had you."

When I was pregnant with my first child, I really wanted — a healthy baby. Forget counting fingers and toes. If some of those were — missing, I knew I wouldn't care. The bigger issues worried me. I hoped — for a baby who was mentally OK and who did not have a crippling physical — ailment. I didn't want a boy or a girl per se, I wanted a living breathing — baby.

So when I was 8 1/2 months pregnant and my doctor looked — at my small measurements and ordered an immediate sonogram, I panicked. — She mumbled something about wanting to rule out "inter-uterine growth — retardation." Then she clicked her pen closed and walked out of the room.

I had been exercising a lot during my pregnancy. We lived — in Atlanta then and I would zoom down the bike path in a sports bra and — tight shorts with my enormous belly (I don't care what the doctor thought, — it seemed enormous to me) hanging out.

"You go girl!" African-American women would call out to — me. So I'd pedal faster, leaving open-mouthed teenagers in my wake. Feeling — better after 6 1/2 months of toe-curling nausea, I was in the best shape — in my life. Still, I was too superstitious to have a baby shower or to — buy anything in advance except one tiny little pink and yellow striped — outfit. No crib. No changing table. No clothes.

The sonogram confirmed that the baby was fine. Then, 10 — days before my due date and more than three weeks before I expected her — - I was sure my firstborn would be late - I was flying home on my bicycle — over jagged potholes and terrific bumps and my water broke. Twenty-two — hours later, my daughter was born. When it was clear that she was strong — and healthy I finally had the luxury of admitting that I had been lying — to myself. Unlike my mother, I had really wanted a girl after all.

Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., has eaten fried crickets in — Niger, performed the cancan in America, and appeared live on prime-time — TV in France. Her new book, "Why Babies Do That" (Willow Creek Press), — will be out this fall. Read more about her at www.ToddlerTrueStories.com.