Gadora Wilder (‘gä-dôr’-ä wīld-er) was the sobriquet my BFF and I long ago labeled our favorite thrift shop. A high-school spiel to conceal our love of vintage. Accessorizing the Catholic-school uniform was paramount. “Where’d you get that sweater (or purse or shoes…),” they’d inquire. Never admitting Goodwill, we’d reply, “Wha? This thing? A hip boutique ‘Gadora Wilder’.” Those were the ’80s – we didn’t always fit in – but the adage ‘one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure’ kept us going.
With a desire to express my creativity and armed with an insatiable adoration of shoes Gadora, professionally known as Steph Lewis, fashioned a nearly ten-year stretch in the footwear business and publishing industries. All the while Gadora, who I now refer to as my snappy alter ego, continued pulling magazine tear-outs for paper projects, grouting mosaic tile on some table pulled off the street, or reviving the sparkle in forgotten and lackluster furnishings or objects…
It was my Grandmother Velma who made long use of seemingly ordinary objects. She’d store puzzle pieces in an old Pringles can. Her quilting squares were neatly stacked in boxes long since crisp. In her care, bottles found new meaning. Everything had its purpose and in her world, almost all was re-purposed. Without even intending to—but by living by design—she taught Gadora the fine art of repurposing the things around me.
Grandmother found delight in the ordinary and brought mundane things to life with her perception of them. Outside her window bickering hummingbirds brought a smile. A fresh white bloom hidden in the center of an elephant ear gave her pride. She beamed at the way the South’s pitch night highlighted twinkling stars. Without even trying—but by living by example—she taught me to find joy in my surroundings.
Grandmother didn’t live in a time when green buzzwords were apropos: REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE. She JUST LIVED this way. Gadora Wilder is my little way of remembering her.
By the way I live.