What a Tomato!

Posted: Apr 29 2014

People have been asking me about the tomato logo for my new company, Maddy James, so I thought I’d write a short blog post explaining her history.

The tomato represents my grandmother, Jean. She was a part of what is commonly referred to as the “greatest generation” During the Second World War she “ran away” (or at least that is how my great grandmother always referred to it) from her small Michigan town to have an adventure. She and a friend traveled to Vallejo California where she worked at Mare Island Naval shipyard in the ammunition depot. She loved to tell me stories about her wild times in “Valley Joe”, and I loved to hear them.

After the war she returned to her hometown of Bronson, Michigan where she met my grandfather, Jim Norris at the local dance hall called Matteson Gardens. He was a returning war veteran with the rank of Sergeant. His company was among the first Americans into Berlin, Germany. He was truly part of that great generation.

My grandmother would laugh and tell the story of the night they met. My grandfather was a gawky, shy man who after watching her all evening sent over a friend to tell her that Jim Norris wanted to give her a ride home. She saucily replied, “If he wants to give me a ride, tell him to ask me himself.” So, he marched right up to her, grabbed her by the hand and said, “Come on.” They married a short time later.

Norris_Wedding Virginia_Norris_w_Jim

My grandfather, upon hearing that story many, many times, as she loved to tell it, always had the same comment. He would say, “Gina, she was the best looking tomato in that place.” My grandmother was a lady, in the truest sense of the word, but had a fun spunky side as well. She loved fashion, decorating and art. She was a wonderful painter and one of her paintings hangs in my office.

Around the time I decided to pursue this idea of vintage loungewear she passed, and left me a small inheritance. Whenever she gave any of her grandchildren any money, she would always say, “Now don’t you pay bills with this, do something fun with it!” That inheritance is the seed money I used to go back to school, and begin designing. Maddy James is something I think she would have been very proud of and would have loved. It is always her, the best looking tomato in the joint, that I think of when I begin a new project.


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