‘Hats and shoes’ and dresses pave a vacation down memory lane at Johnson County Museum’s All-Electric Residence | KCUR 89.3

‘Hats and shoes’ and dresses pave a vacation down memory lane at Johnson County Museum’s All-Electric Residence | KCUR 89.3

Annie and Norton Rixey’s residing home in Lake Waukomis, Missouri, is loaded with bins that comprise packages, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks and photograph albums.

“This is Mary Ellen,” stated Annie, pointing to a framed image. “And this was when she was the American Royal Queen. So we have a great deal of queen stuff. There is just copies and copies of the newspaper.”

Norton’s mother, Mary Ellen (Ash) Rixey, was the American Royal Queen in 1950. She went on to work for the Donnelly Garment Enterprise in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, modeled Nelly Don apparel and intended manner demonstrates at regional division shops.


Missouri Valley Particular Collections of the Kansas City Community Library

Mary Ellen Ash was the American Royal Queen in 1950. Her son, Norton Rixey, donated some of her dresses to the historical vogue collection at Johnson County Community College or university.

Mary Ellen married a cattle trader and moved to Fairway, Kansas, in 1957, wherever she raised two boys. She later on specialized in health-related data. But Norton reported that remaining trim and trendy remained critical to his mother.

“Have lipstick will journey,” he mentioned with a chuckle. “Red lipstick.”

When Mary Ellen died in 2019, the attic of her suburban dwelling was stuffed, which includes rows of mothballed dresses from her 1950s style profession. About a dozen dresses, together with Nelly Dons, were donated to the historical trend selection at Johnson County Local community Faculty (JCCC).

“She would be outstandingly satisfied that, 1st of all, some of these dresses could continue to be revealed,” he claimed. “And, the reality that they will possibly be able to be saved for another 50 many years, 80 many years, 100, nonetheless extensive it normally takes.”

Mary Ellen's dress 2.jpg

Laura Spencer

Mary Ellen Rixey’s dress, a burgundy taffeta with polka dots, will be on show at the 1950s All-Electrical Household at the Johnson County Museum in Overland Park.

The style selection is housed in the Midwest Have faith in Middle on the JCCC campus. The garments are organized by designers on one side, and by many years, from the 1850s by the 1990s, on the other aspect.

“We have hats and shoes and we have almost certainly, you know, 1500 to 2000 parts,” said Britt Benjamin, fashion merchandising and layout affiliate professor at JCCC.

She additional, “I do like that we have remaining it for college students to see and interact with it and didn’t really go super driving glass variety of situation.”

On a visit a handful of weeks back, Benjamin walked up to about a dozen mannequins in a circle decked out in 1950s holiday getaway style, prepared to be transported to the Johnson County Museum.

“So this is Mary Ellen Rixey’s costume,” she claimed. “It’s a burgundy taffeta with polka dot felt.”

JCCC ladies 2.jpg

Laura Spencer

JCCC associate professor Britt Benjamin and university student Katelyne Kratofil at the historical fashion selection.

There’s also a brilliant green satin dress with white fur cuffs and a red overcoat in significant silk satin. The mixture was a shade palette for Kansas Metropolis women, who shopped at department suppliers these kinds of as Harzfeld’s, Woolf Brothers and Swanson’s.

Style in the 1950s, explained Benjamin, turned absent from the armed service silhouettes of the 1940s to what was known as “the new look.”

So the new search was Christian Dior’s seem just after Planet War II,” she explained, “which was large, comprehensive skirts, slender midsection, sloped shoulders.”

Trend style college student Katelyne Kratofil formerly studied 1950s home furnishings and interiors, but now she’s generating connections to the fashions of the era.

“It’s a lengthy, ankle-size ground line, blush pink taffeta robe. It is got a actually entire skirt,” Kratofil explained, as she described a costume intended by Martin Simon.

“This is truly rather, curved, it’d be deemed a sweetheart neckline, with this genuinely ornate, curved gold beading that form of follows together that neckline. It is a little bit off the shoulder. It’s beautiful. I really like it,” Kratofil exclaimed.


Carlos Moreno

A fur from Kansas City’s Gerhardt Fur Company is a single of the several mid-century style add-ons on display screen at the Johnson County Museum.

Lots of of these garments would have been worn at 1950s cocktail events, attended by nicely-dressed close friends and neighbors, and hosted in suburban properties — like the 1950s All-Electric powered House, the premier artifact in the Johnson County Museum’s assortment.

“So the property was crafted in 1953 by the Kansas Town Energy and Light Enterprise off of 63rd and Roe (in Prairie Village),” stated Anne Jones, curator of collections at the Johnson County Museum. “And it was a model household.”

The populace of Johnson County, Kansas, boomed after Earth War II as families flocked to the suburbs and moved into recently built residences.

The All-Electric Dwelling showcased futuristic gadgets, these types of as a concealed television and a garage door opener.

“The American aspiration at that time was interpreted as acquiring a home,” she explained. “Owning your very own house, in a community in close proximity to good educational facilities, good neighbors.”

During excursions, Jones mentioned, she also describes the dream compared to actuality given that racially restrictive covenants segregated the Kansas City metro area.


JCCC’s Britt Benjamin and Susan Peter increase mid-century outfits to several mannequins set up in the dwelling place of the All-Electrical Property at the Johnson County Museum.

In 2017, when the museum moved to the Arts and Heritage Heart in Overland Park, it motivated a reimagining of the property.

“So the approach was as a substitute of decoding and furnishing it as that 1953-54 design residence, we form of redid the house, to support the tale of how households lived in this article among, say 1955 and 1961,” she mentioned. “Of study course, the holidays are like the easiest matter to interpret in this residence.”

But telling extra stories essential partnerships.

Previously this yr, the dwelling celebrated Passover with the Overland Park temple B’nai Jehudah and Michael Klein’s Judaica selection.

And 1950s holiday clothes, cocktail attire from the JCCC selection will be on show beginning Nov. 20, all over the dwelling and on the front lawn.

“Not only do people today get to see a distinctive story,” she claimed, “They get to see a total diverse set of objects that automatically are not ours, but they are anyone else’s that they may well not see on a regular basis any place else.”

So irrespective of whether it’s 1950s history, houses or outfits that intrigue you, a excursion back again in time this getaway season may possibly be the great gift.

‘Fashion Lights up the All-Electric powered Household: Vacation Fashion,’ Nov. 20, 2021 – Jan. 15, 2022, Johnson County Museum, Overland Park.