Vintage signifies enduring, lasting, long-lived. My once upon a time idea for a J. Press vintage shop never happened in the family business, but finally came true with the 2021 affiliation of J. Press with Wooden Sleepers.
When I was young and twenty, I engaged in disputatious dialogue with my Uncle Irving and dad, Paul Press, promoting a vintage store to be flagrantly titled Vintage Squeeze. I envisioned an operation occupying the north side entrance of 262 York Street, space formerly occupied by C. A. Stonehill, rare book seller currently utilized as a shipping room. My own Heyday dream of an early day E-Bay in the flesh. I was out of control picturing discarded letter sweaters, yearbooks, suits, OCBDs, dorm room beer mugs, football programs, a treasure chest of Yale and prep school discards for the Ivy cognoscenti.
Vintage Squeeze would also have served competition to “Rosie,” a bedraggled local pawn shop character providing cash flow for broke Eli trust funders who surrendered their pinstripes and tweeds for pocket change.
Uncle Irving and Poppa Paul didn’t take my pitch.
Wooden Sleepers brought a 2021 happy ending. Several years ago Judy Samelson asked if I could assist her to find a suitable buyer for her late father’s wardrobe she had retained a decade after his passing. Felix Samelson, Auschwitz survivor, chief designer, fitter and celebrity to scores of patrons left his family a carefully sorted wardrobe collection as if on store display.
Brian Davis’ vintage clothing shop in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn received accolades from Ivy stalwarts I knew. He responded graciously to the Samelson collection. Our time together added luster to a gray Brooklyn afternoon bringing unique perspective to her Samelson family history—from Holocaust survival to American Renewal movingly recited by Judy, then Editor-in-Chief of Playbill Magazine.
The 2021 Spring & Summer Brochure features “Brian Davis/J. Press— Generation To Generation,” a story better seen on the printed page rather than in synopsis by yours truly. The vintage merchandise is pure American Ivy Style. Along with remnants of the Felix inheritance, it also features rags and bones straight out of my dad’s New Haven closet over half a century ago.
Zing went the strings of my heart.