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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Laura B. Waddell, August 6, 2002. Interview R-0175. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Love for the job leads to hard work

Waddell describes her work tailoring bridal gowns. She reveals her love for her work and the way that passion motivates her to work hard.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Laura B. Waddell, August 6, 2002. Interview R-0175. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

KIERAN TAYLOR:
So you became a landlord at that point.
LAURA B. WADDELL:
That's right. The apartment, I mean, yeah, the apartment is four units. It was a rather big piece of property.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Your space and then the four apartments.
LAURA B. WADDELL:
Uh huh.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Were there any other commercial spaces in there or no?
LAURA B. WADDELL:
No. Well, honestly my shop was big enough to make two businesses out of because it was like two thousand square feet, and at one time I did rent out a portion of it for another person who wanted to do hats, but that didn't last long. I just almost gave her free rent until she could get her business organized. But it was always more space then we could use. The front part of the shop was usually used for the people who worked for me, and I had the back of it set up for my alteration and dressmaking that I did and my bridal stuff. It was almost like two different businesses in there because I had dressing rooms up front and dressing rooms in the back privately for the brides when they came in.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
How do you get into that business?
LAURA B. WADDELL:
Well, I did a little bit of advertising. After doing a little bit of advertising, Savannah's not that big, and once you do one bride, the word gets out especially if it's a real nice wedding. Like I say, most of my clientele being mostly predominantly white, and I say about sixty percent of the white clientele was mostly Jewish. Jewish families spend quite a bit on weddings especially for the brides and especially Orthodox weddings. You have to really put a lot of time in it. There's not too many places that you can buy unless you go to New York to buy a nice wedding dress for an Orthodox wedding that is going to be covered up. All of them are always so bare. So most of the Jewish women like to have their clothes tailored for their girls.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
So what was the difference between an Orthodox and a Reformed Jewish wedding?
LAURA B. WADDELL:
Well, you can see the difference in the wearing of the clothes for an Orthodox girl and a regular girl. She's not as bare.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
So it's more material.
LAURA B. WADDELL:
That's all. They don't want their girls to be uncovered. But yet still, they've got to be fine. They've got to be very best. They don't mind spending a lot of money to see that the girls are beautiful, but they just don't want, they don't want the bareness to be shown. They have beautiful, beautiful clothes. My last Orthodox wedding was two sisters. They both got married in the same month, but not the same day, and boy, did I work for that wedding, but it was beautiful.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
So you must've done the dresses for a lot of pretty prominent Savannans.
LAURA B. WADDELL:
Oh yes. Yes, I have. That's what I miss the most. When you love your work, it comes to a point you don't think about the money, but you've got to have the money in order to stay in business. But I would just put so much time and energy in it, and people notice that. They notice that you do care, and that's what makes your business thrive because you can't pretend with people when you're doing a job like that. They know whether you really care about it or not. I get so excited when I start working on a wedding, and I want to know all of the details, and I really put all that I have into it.