Blue Roses, Tennessee Williams and Alice Caviness

I was lucky enough to purchase some earrings the other day at the Salvation Army that are signed Alice Caviness. Alice was a costume jewelry designer who rates up there with Else Schiaparelli, Hattie Carnegie, Nettie Rosenstein, et al. These are killer, clip-ons from the 50s. What really kills me about them is that the centerpiece is a porcelain disk with a blue rose decal on it. 


When I saw them, the first thing that drew me towards them were those blue roses. Blue roses ... if you are a fan of Tennessee Williams, which I have been since studying theater in the 1970s, you would be familiar with one of his plays entitled The Glass Menagerie. It's about a dysfunctional family, a son who just wants to escape his mother's delusional grasp and a daughter who has a disability and chooses to hide in her own world filled with her glass menagerie, tiny glass animal figures. Laura, a tenderhearted and timid girl, is unable to cope with the real world and her mother's unreasonable demands that she go out and find a husband.

A friend of the son ends up coming over to dinner and remembers Laura by the nickname he had given her when they were in high school, "Blue Roses," as he had misheard the reason she gave for her crippled leg, which was pleurosis.


It's another sad tale where the mother continues her delusional thinking while the son attempts to escape and Laura finally opens up to the possibility of finding her man, only to learn that he is already engaged. Williams is so poignant when it comes to illuminating the human condition, understands abandonment and how one copes and continues to survive under the most dismal of circumstances.

The world is filled with Blue Roses, the forgotten and misunderstood, the frightened and the delusional. I wonder if Alice had these thoughts in mind when she designed this particular pair of earrings. I'm certain they were originally part of a set, complete with a necklace, bracelet and/or a pin. Regardless of her intent, they are wonderful.

 

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