Good morning and happy Tuesday!! Today’s prompt for Show and Tell Tuesday is – How you met, fell in love, and/or got engaged. As I established in Friday’s post, I am single…however I’m not going to let that stop me from using this prompt today… Today I am going to introduce you to Hannah and Robert Bishop, and share their story.
Washington DC, 1856 I stepped off the train and was greeted by my grandmother Mae, I haven’t seen her and grandfather since I was a young girl and now here I am, 16 years old, away from home for the first time, and having to make a new life for myself up north…off of my father’s plantation.
We walked a few blocks from the train station to Grandmother’s dress shop, and the little apartment above it that she shares with Grandfather. I unpacked the two small suitcases I brought with me and set to work in the shop doing whatever Grandmother instructed me to do…pretty soon, Grandmother began to manage the shop and let me set to work making the dresses and tailoring the suits.
In 1860 I took over the shop entirely after the death of both grandparents. One day shortly after my twentieth birthday rumors began to swirl about an impending war…men – young and old – began to come into the shop to have their uniforms altered.
I was working one day on a dress for my most loyal customer when the bell over the front door jingled, a young man walked in and waited for me at the counter while I pushed up off of the floor and made my way to the counter.
“Is there a tailor here who can help me?” the young man asked, looking past me toward the back of the shop.
“That would be me,” I answered, putting my hands on my hips in an attempt to make myself look more menacing than I am, “how can I help you?”
“I need this altered,” he said, placing a pile of dark blue wool on the counter between us, “and my stripes sewn on. Normally I’d have my mother handle it for me but she and father are in Pennsylvania visiting my sister, they won’t be back for at least two months and I fear that by then it will be too late.”
“Go in back and put it on inside out,” I told him, pointing to the small changing room behind me, “I need to see what it is I’m working with.”
When he went in to change I moved the dress form I’ve been working across the shop and away from the mirror, freeing up space for the gentleman when he is ready.
I had to stifle my laughter when he came out of the dressing room – sleeves and pant legs much too long for his frame, a jacket that he was drowning in, and pants that two of him could fit into. “It was my father’s” he said sheepishly, “it was easier to take his old one and have it tailored than to get a new uniform made.”
I directed him to the small platform in front of the mirror so that I could get to work. I set to work first on the jacket – rolling up the sleeves to the right length, pinning and taking in the sides; once that was done I tackled the trousers. Clipping the sides, where pins wouldn’t do the job, taking in the waist then making my way down to the inseam and finally the hem all the while the young man kept squirming and a few times I have to admit, I purposely poked him with a pin just to get him to hold still.
“Quit moving,” I laughed, “you have to hold still or I’ll never get this done.”
“Sorry,” he said, “I’m just distracted…I’m not used to…a beautiful…I mean a…well, a woman…who isn’t my mother…tailoring my clothes for me.”
I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t flattered by that.
I finished the pinning and let him change into his street clothes, “I can have these done by the end of the week,” I told him, “just show me where to sew on the Officer’s stripes.”
I hung the jacket on any empty form so that I could see where to put the stripes.
“What do I owe you?” he asked as I was pinning on his insignia.
“Nothing yet, I’ll let you know when you come to pick these up on Friday.”
“Thank you miss,” he said with a smile before pushing open the door and walking down the sidewalk toward the heart of town.
The next day, as I was writing a receipt for a customer I noticed the young man walk by my door and glance inside. I caught his eye and he quickly walked away…I couldn’t help but smile to myself. Later that day – just I was turning the sign to take a lunch break – he walked in with a briefcase in one hand and a bag in the other.
“I thought you might like some lunch,” he smiled.“I never have anyone to eat with and honestly I would enjoy the company today.”
“Sure,” I heard myself answer, “I’d love the company too.”
We dined on fresh bread, cheese, and fruit. I brewed tea for us both in the back of the shop, and we sat together on the floor near the mirror, using the platform as a small table between us. After we’d finished eating Robert – I finally did learn his name – cleaned up and asked if he could have lunch with me again the next day. That’s how it started; Robert and I ate lunch together everyday for a month – even after he’d picked up his uniform.
Eventually we began to court, since I have no family in town he asked for the blessing of our preacher in order to being our courtship. We courted for two months, and in December 1860 we were married. His parents were our witnesses, standing beside us in the front room of the parsonage as we said our vows. Soon after, his parents decided to make a move west, and together as husband and wife we moved into their home in town.
It was a small wedding, but intimate – everyone who needed to be there was there, and I jumped right into creating a home for myself and my new husband. I still worked in my shop while he consulted on legal matters for the people in town. We continued to share lunch together each day on the floor of the shop….
Hannah and Robert Bishop are the main characters in a historical fiction novel that I am currently developing. To read more of their story – beyond how they met – stay tuned! This is the start of a series that is pretty near and dear to my heart and I look forward to sharing the final product with you all. Thank you for allowing me to introduce you to these two characters today, I look forward to sharing more with you in the future! Blessings, Megan