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shoppers got something there they didn't get at other stores.  If you survived Nathan's test, you were treated to quality merchandise at reasonable prices and alterations and assistance from Filomena Espinola, an employee for over twenty years, as well as coffee from Sally.

     Everyone shopped at Birke's, from the wealthy lawyer to the impoverished, former mill worker, and they remember the clothes, often better than the events for which they were purchased.  In great detail, customers will tell you about their little Rothschild coat with matching leggings and hat, or the boy's suit with its brass buttons, bought for Easter thirty years ago and later passed down to two brothers before being sent on to a favorite cousin.  "Birke's clothes wore like iron."

The Exhibit

"Browsing Through Birke's" is meant as a reminder of not only Nathan and Sally's hard work, sorrows and legacies, but also as a celebration of the immigrant experience.

     Reflect on clothing of the past, the workmanship and attention to detail that is so hard to find nowadays.  Take in the different panels of the exhibit, the memories and truths of the past they reveal.  Check out the customer panel, the "rules" on getting in, the comments about mannequins with no hands, and Nathan making Andrew Dice Clay seem like a choir boy.  Each panel contains a piece of the Birke's story, including a sometimes discordant reminder of the Holocaust framed in black; but remember, the Holocaust is the loom on which Birke's was spun.

     Take your time.  Feel free to browse.

Project Director: Szifra Birke
Project Consultant: Lisa Hochstein
Film Consultant / Exhibit Photographer: Jim Higgins
Video Assistant: Jonathan La Bonte
Graphics and Signage: Lisa Hochstein Graphics
Writer: Judy Glidden, The Write Knack
Installation: Peg Shanahan
Hospitality: Sall Birke
Lowell Historic Preservation: 
   Gretchen Sanders Joy, Juliet Mofford and 
   Martha Norkunas
Lowell National Historical Park
Lowell Office of Cultural Affairs

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