Friday, January 23, 2009

Red Flannel - Cedar Springs, Michigan (1949)

from the Red Flannel Festival site:
History of the Red Flannel Festival
It all began in 1936 in the midst of "the worst winter in years." The whole country suffered in the grip of heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures. A New York feature writer bemoaned the "fact" that, "Here we are in the midst of an old- fashioned winter and there are no red flannels in the USA to go with it."

The local newspaper, The Cedar Springs Clipper, owned and edited by "The Clipper Gals" Nina Babcock and Grace Hamilton answered the writer with a RED HOT editorial stating: "Just because Sak's Fifth Avenue does not carry red flannels, it doesn't follow that no one in the country does. CEDAR SPRINGS' merchants have red flannels!"
The story was picked up by The Associated Press and orders began pouring in from all over the USA. Seeing the possibility of at least a few years of publicity because of our famous “drop seaters" and lumbering history, a "RED FLANNEL DAY" was planned for the fall of 1939. After the closure of the Red Flannel Factory in 1994, the citizens became concerned as to the fate of their beloved Red Flannels and of the Red Flannel Festival. However, due to the love of their community legacy, volunteers rallied to keep the Red Flannel Festival tradition alive. It has continued to be an annual event, held the last weekend in September and the first weekend in October. The production of Red Flannel garments was reestablished and they are available to purchase in Cedar Springs."
The photos are from the Life Magazine image archives on Google, and yes, I have another crush on a girl who is either a senior citizen now or has croaked. The Life archives erroneously lists these photos as taken in "Cellar Springs, Utah" but they are from Cedar Springs, Michigan.

"When financial difficulties forced the factory to close in 1994, Karen Williams, proprietor of Cedar Sweets and Specialty Shoppe, stepped in to keep the town’s legacy alive. Not being a seamstress herself, she enlisted the help of several women who were.
“It was a stop-gap to get us through,” recalls Williams. “That year, there was never anything on the shelves because it was bought up as soon as it was made. People ordered and came back a week later to pick them up.”
Today, a dozen local women stitch a wide variety of red clothing in their homes. The traditional red flannels now are made of a stretch cotton/polyester blend so when wearers bend over they, don’t pop their buttons. Other products such as boxer shorts, shirts, and nightgowns still are made of red and plaid flannel."
I'm now on a mission to find this issue of Life and to visit Cedar Springs to get me some lumberjack drawers.

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