Stroller Society

The inventor of the poodle skirt, Michael Hamilton, holds a

Ahh, the bucolic days of strolling in South County with mom at
the helm of the PegPerego and your new best friends (new, because
after all, we’re only months old) at your side and cheddar cheese
flavored fish crackers on the tray in front of you. It makes the
stroller brigade a new brand of emerging society. Life will never
be better.
Ahh, the bucolic days of strolling in South County with mom at the helm of the PegPerego and your new best friends (new, because after all, we’re only months old) at your side and cheddar cheese flavored fish crackers on the tray in front of you. It makes the stroller brigade a new brand of emerging society. Life will never be better.

Ever in search of new and unique social gatherings, my columnist’s eye caught sight of strollers moving briskly four abreast down Trail Drive in Morgan Hill last week shortly after their 8:30am departure from Mira Bella Circle.

Baby Ryan, 10-months-old, baby Nikolaus, 13-months-old, baby Thomas, 14-months-old, and the real baby of the group Ryan M., 6-months-old, all perched forward in their carriages with the exception of Nikolaus who sat back for a quick two minute power nap. Their moms, I learned, all met through the 2004 Las Madres group and formed this daily walk and talk, meeting at Ryan’s house for a strict 8:30 departure time.

Ryan’s mom, Deborah Super, keeps the group to the 8:30 time frame much as a Swiss train engineer. Joining her were Nikolaus’ mom Merrissa Bentley, Thomas’ mom Annie Brazeal and Ryan M.’s mom Sheri Murray. It’s only a matter of time before the boys will trade their strollers for scooters, their scooters for bikes, their bikes for cars and then off into the sunset, mom no longer at the helm. Relish today, ladies.

Of days gone by … we have a celebrity in town many of you don’t know. Her name is Michael Hamilton, and she is affectionately referred to as the “Poodle Skirt Lady.”

“In the early 50s, I was living in Santa Barbara, California, and I made myself some wool felt skirts. My friends encouraged me to take them to Saks Fifth Avenue, and they thought they were perfect for their children’s line.

“The skirt didn’t start out with poodles but had circus horses, monkeys, pigs and then finally poodles. Our first order was for 35 skirts, then for 300 skirts, and on to thousands. I made them with my neighbor in her barn in Montecito. We grew from Sak’s to Neiman Marcus and were featured in every Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog for eight years.”

Hamilton explained the poodle probably became the most remembered from photos of girls dancing in the full circle skirt. Every year the designer created a new poodle, and she recalls cutting eight skirts at a time with a large, dangerously sharp rotary cutter. There was a lot of copying of the skirt, especially by a rival designer named Florence Eisman. Hamilton separated her designs from the rest by using 100 percent wool felt and selling only to top stores.

As her enthusiasm for the skirt waned, Hamilton received an offer from Sak’s for her own studio in New York in an effort to keep her designing. Hamilton declined the offer and opened her own studios in Menlo Park and New Mexico. No longer designing, Hamilton states she is “retired forever” but keeps her hands in the sewing crafts of needle works and knitting.

As the ultimate authority in poodle skirt design, Hamilton has graciously committed to judging the poodle skirt contest at the upcoming “Let’s Go to the Hop” sock hop sponsored by the Morgan Hill Rotary Club on April 16 at the Morgan Hill Community Center. Stop by and meet the “Poodle Skirt Lady” and have her autograph your felt.

Ciao for now.

Leave your comments