This week we honor Mom’s 108th birthday (December 27th) and her passing (January 1, 2010). While I could write a lot about her as a Mom and grandmother, that’s probably interesting only to us. Instead, I’d like to acknowledge her role in the design and production of our carryall bags. After all, while the HDS in our name are her initials, she contributed so much more than just that. (Of course, with a name like Hazel Della Snodgrass, you can understand why we used her initials instead of calling them the Snodgrass bags!)
My mother had a very interesting life. She was born in Montague County, Texas in 1907. When she was 3, the family moved to Dumas, TX via covered wagon and then began homesteading in Oklahoma’s panhandle in 1912. The only girl with four brothers, she worked hard on the wheat farm, cooking, cleaning, preserving food, etc. Unusual for a woman at the time, she completed college, as did all of her brothers. She then taught in a one room school house until she married our dad in 1932. They moved around a lot, especially during WWII, but eventually settled in Texas, where Mom was an elementary teacher until her retirement at 65. My sister and I were both born in Austin, and then we moved to Midland in early 1950. That's where Mom remained until her 85th year, when she moved to Houston to be near Sharon, my sister and the designer of our bags.
Whether she made or bought her clothes (and ours), Mom always looked nice. “Well put together” was the way one friend described her style, and you'd be hard-pressed to disagree. She always carried a nice bag and coordinating shoes with her nails done, her pretty white hair with silver flecks, always coiffed. She took pride in her appearance, and it showed. She rode a stationary bike for years to keep her cute little 5’ 2” figure, but loved junk food like poppycock! She remained very healthy until she fell and broke her hip at 99 ½, shortly after she celebrated her granddaughter’s college graduation. Due to her age and condition, she had to move to an assisted living facility, and required the use of a walker.
She was so ticked off at her circumstances, but the worst was that she could not carry her purses. After all, regular purses just don't work on walkers. And she had mail, a wallet, her peppermint candies, her compact, and other things to carry. Even with a rollator that had a basket, she was still adamant that she needed a pretty purse – not an open basket. Therefore, she insisted that my sister find her a pretty bag. We both tried to find one that met her standards and would work on her walker, but were both entirely unsuccessful. Mom then ordered Sharon, who sews, to make her one. Sharon made a beautiful bag out of a quilted fabric with flowers with beads and gave it to Mom. Within a day, all of Mom’s friends with walkers and power chairs wanted one, and Sharon quickly found herself designing and sewing more bags.
When I returned to Texas to visit, a number of the ladies insisted I see their bags. They loved them and all declared how the bags made them happy, feel good, feel important, reminded them of younger days, etc. That’s when the idea of a walker bag company began. Mom was a bit fascinated by the concept and funded our first visit to a textile show to see fabric, trim, and talk to vendors. It was a great experience that launched a two year start up process.
Before Mom died, she knew that husband Bill and I were starting the business and that Sharon had chosen to be the designer. Now we make bags for all types of mobility devices, for all kinds of people, and have designed a wide range of pretty bags, fun bags, chic bags and more for walkers, wheelchairs, power chairs, scooters, segways, strollers, etc. They allow women to demonstrate their style just like Hazel did! We like to think she would be so proud of what she inspired... thanks Mom!