View From The Bus
|Irene was the 4th daughter of Isaac and Lola Bell Yoakum. She was born 24 Feb 1918 in Bucyrus, MO. - ed.||
Passengers and Lookers-on, today we are going to repaint
the old red bus an outrageous shade of purple (plum or puce?)
in order to better identify with a gal who LOVES the color and
amethyst-toned world. I give you a fun,
flamboyant, and flair-for-living lady: Irene Cowan, Milliner
(whom I will refrain from calling The Mad Hatter, thanks just
the same). Irene has so many talents and interests, it's difficult
to know where to begin. The Cowans live up, up on Allyn
Avenue, in the original house built by Mr. Allyn. The entire
house echoes and re-echoes the imaginative, innovative mind of
the Lady of the Manor. For example, whereas most people
would be content to pot their plants in terra cotta, Irene Cowan
has whimsically planted hers in antique John Church plumbing
"pots" here and there in her rustic garden. When I stepped out
of the car, three deer were nonchalantly taking lunch in the.
upper terrace. "They sit under my kit chen window and sun
bath, " s laughed, "They don't let my presence bother them at
all. "Then she showed me a driftwood mobile above the rail
where she lays food for the raccoon family she's adopted. "The
little monkies swing on my mobile:" she exclaimed.
The far wall of her living room sports a life-like tree. This highly-textured mural turned out to be The Cowan Family Tree. "Don is the trunk, " she explained, "And I am the plump part near the top. The children are the branches. on these branches, coin cidental with seasonal changes and fluxes of whim, she tapes leaves, grapes, even Xmas cards. The house is a regular museum of off-beat creativity. "I take common objects and then do the uncommon thing with them, " Irene revealed. Right on: For how many of us would think to take a creek-rescued leather boot, spray it gold, and plant succulents in it? Or to put it on our bathroom dressing table, which is in reality the cabinet from an old treadle
sewing machine? And just how many people do you know with swinging doors into the commode portion of
their bathrooms? And a John Patrick original dance hall dolly, entitled Fancy Goods,
above said commode? or who have gilt hand-and-fan prints all over the walls? Add Austrian curtains; and Victorian,
jaunty, concretized fun, that's what I call it.
This multi-faceted gal is also adroit at handling hair, and
has had hair-styling experience. She does her own, which
looks professional, and is a glossy angel-hair texture and hue
that offsets her millinery creations stunningly. From cabinets, cupboards, and
Which brings up a topic of great enthusiasm in the Cowan domain these days: the impending Cloverdale Citrus Fair (February 12 through 15), at which our own San Anselmo Ascenders will be performing daily. And for which Irene Cowan is a contracted hostess to guide VIP'S, and also a judge for many events: floral and dried flower arrangements, arts and crafts, talents shows, baking events, and even the pageant to select a beauty queen. This is the first year since 1966, when Irene won't also be masterminding The Citrus Chapeaus event, a 'first' in California fair's history, originated by Irene Cowan. Photos of this fun-event are hilarious, showing husbands competing under a ten second time limit to slap together wild and winning headgear. Of course, there were more serious sides to the event, including the judging of millinery entries. "Ivy Baker Priest wore one of my hats home from the 1967 Fair, " Irene recalls, "And she later sent me a gracious letter of thanks along with a copy of her book Green Grows the Ivy. The inscription she showed me was indeed and appreciative. Irene has seen Mrs. Priest at several functions since. "She always comes up and hugs me. It just amazes me she remembers me at all"
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Rev 2b: 3 Dec 1999 : rdk
Copyright 1999, Yoakum Archives
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