Carol, Agnes, and the Love of Purses

Heilman Agnes Bets on Murder CoverOnce again I’m pleased to feature fellow LPC author Carol G. Heilman in my “Take My Hand Again” blog. Carol has written two books about the antics of Agnes Hopper, an assisted living resident who gets into all sorts of scrapes and situations. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Agnes in Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar and look forward to catching up with her in Agnes Bets on Murder. (Find both at Meet Carol, and then enjoy her blog post about Agnes and her love of purses!

Meet Carol
Carol Heilman, a coal miner’s daughter, married her high school sweetheart, a farmer’s son. She began writing family stories, especially about her dad’s Appalachian humor, for newspapers and magazines. One day her mother said, “We don’t have any secrets anymore!” Her book series on Agnes Hopper (see above) was inspired by her mother’s spunky spirit and her dad’s humor. She has recently moved, along with her husband of fifty-plus years, from the mountains of NC to Charleston, SC. They love to play cards, go antiquing, hike, and visit grandsons on the east and west coasts.

The Love of Purses
Pocketbooks, handbags, purses–whatever you call them, they are essential items in most women’s wardrobes.

I have a collection of old ones that I hold dear. The largest tapestry one, as well as the tiny beaded one, belonged to my great grandmother. Mother’s oldest sister carried the soft black purse. I found the black one with the silver handle in an antique shop.Purses

Agnes Marie Hopper, the main character in my books, also loves purses. She found her favorite, a red-leather one soft as a baby’s behind, in a garage sale. She carries it everywhere, even to the retirement home’s front porch where she rocks and knits and tries to straighten out her tangled thoughts.

Agnes always has a Cox Brothers Funeral Home fan resting in an outside pocket of her big purse. The small southern town of Sweetbriar can be sultry hot, just like that July day when she moved to The Manor. Only on that day, when she needed it the most, her fan had seemed to vanish.Heilman Purse Quote

Agnes once told her daughter, Betty Jo, “Every woman ought to have a rain bonnet, a fan, headache powder, and a clean hanky in her purse at all times.”

Do you have a favorite purse?
Why is it your favorite?
What does it look like?
Is it old or new?
What items do you think are essential to carry?

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  1. When my favorite Aunt Jean passed away and was laid out in the funeral parlor in Buffalo,, NY. , her purse was placed in the coffin with her. It really brought a smile to my face when I saw how comfortable she looked holding on to her well weathered handbag.
    My grand-daughter always asks me if I have any mints. I have given her permission to go into my purse and get out a mint. She only takes one and may ask a second time to take another, but only takes one more. When I decided to retire an old purse of mine, I had just replaced it, I took the retired one, placed a few mints inside of it and gave it to my grand-daughter, she accepted it with a warm smile.

    • How fun, Cheryl. That’s a story she can share about you some day. And I can just see your aunt in her casket with her purse! After all, she had someplace to go!! 🙂

      • Thank you, Cheryl, for sharing your heartwarming story about your Aunt Jean. And I loved the way you presented an old purse to your granddaughter. Precious memories. I hope you will enjoy reading about Agnes Hopper who carried her big red purse everywhere she went.

  2. Elizabeth Van Liere says:

    My purses come and go. Makes me think about my thoughts. They come and go, too. Oh dear.

    • I know what you mean, Betty! But isn’t it fun to find something you thought you lost in a purse you haven’t used for awhile? Or even better–some money!

      • Thank you, Betty, for sharing. When I find some money in an old purse I get so excited, even if the amount is small. I have a stack of purses in my closet, but always seem to carry a favorite one until it wears out.

  3. Joyce Gregor says:

    Again, I am staying with my 105- year old mother. I have enjoyed this reflection on purses and the importance of a purse to a women’s identity. It is the first item my mother will grab as we leave the house, even before the thought of a warm coat. Most important is a check to see if she has all the important items before leaving.. She will of course check her cash status, but, most important to her, at 105, does she have her lipstick and comb. Her memory is failing some, however, her identity is still contained in the contents of the purse..

    • What an endearing image of your mother and the care she takes to carry the right items in her purse. My mother was the same. She would never leave her assisted-living home without makeup, her well chosen jewelry, and her purse containing her essential items–especially lipstick and a mirror. She changed purses almost daily to match her outfits. Amazing.
      Carol Heilman

  4. Betsy Thorne says:

    Women and their purses! Agnes Hopper and her red bag brings to mind my great aunt Leona and her big navy bag which she was never without. When I attended the wedding of one of her many grandchildren, I was tickled (and touched) to see it over her arm as a groomsman ushered her to her front row seat!

    • Thank you for sharing. I can see your great aunt Leona carrying her big navy pocketbook down the aisle. My grandmother’s favorite Sunday purse was navy and matched her practical navy shoes, her navy polkadot dress and her little navy hat with veil. Before leaving home she always tucked inside her purse two freshly washed and ironed handkerchiefs.

  5. Karin Wooten says:

    It seems the older I get, the bigger my purses (or tote bags) get! There’s so much more to carry, like tissues, mirror, bandaids, floss, mints, chapstick and lipstick, nasal spray for allergy season, larger wallets for all those cards and emergency papers, including my eye prescription. Why, if I don’t have at least 10 pens in my purse to match my mood, I feel inadequate. Then there are little journals that are handy for making lists, or writing something funny your grandchild said, or a quote that would be just right for that story in the back of your mind. I’ve got to have a calendar handy or I’ll forget something important! Then I wonder, why is my purse so darn heavy? But I can’t be without it.

    • Yes indeed! Small purses are so darn cute, but they won’t hold anything–sometimes not even a cell phone. And who can leave the house without that? Thank you, Karin, for your descriptive and humorous comment. Love it!

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