Most Viewed Stories
Southern trailer-park gal makes good in Marysville
She labored in tobacco fields one North Carolina summer, just to buy a navy blue stitched-down pleated skirt she had spotted in a store window.
At 13, Lynn Williams — formerly Mary Lynn Lominac — already had a taste for clothes far beyond her raisin'.
The owner of Three Seventeen Upscale Resale on D Street in Marysville now sells vintage ball gowns and an odd assortment of finery bearing Madison Avenue labels.
But her voice still recalls the sound of banjos and fiddles.
"I was raised up in a trailer park," she says, grinning from behind rhinestone-encrusted eyeglasses. "I have no idea how I got this way."
Her "way" includes a distinct style of dress that favors leggings, boots, and hats that signal a personality much larger than her 5-foot 2-inch slender frame. At 61, she leaves her long hair its natural pale gray, and usually ties it in a relaxed ponytail that hangs down her back.
Recently, she has taken to tooling around Marysville on a bamboo cruiser bicycle — a rolling billboard for her eclectic tastes and the shop that reflects them.
"It's like being in a museum," says Carol Michel, 65, a teacher who took a break from grading papers at The Brick coffee shop one day to see what was going on in the new shop across the street.
That was back in November when Williams' store opened.
Michel is one of many regular customers who now drops in on a regular basis to chat with Williams and help around the store.
"People say they feel like they've known me all their life," Williams says.
She's especially friendly with other shop owners on D Street, who barter regularly for their favorite items.
"We trade back and forth all the time. It's like going through your sister's closet," she says.
Williams acquired an old red straw hat from a neighboring antique store, a colorful tunic from a gift and novelty shop, and the bamboo bicycle from Digs, a vintage boutique that recently opened up across the street.
Lynn Williams' sense of style may have been novel in Dixieland, but it made its first vivid appearances very early on.
"I was wild out the womb," she says of her love for novelty and humor. "My sister and I were the first girls at Chocowinity High School to show up with teased hair."
That 1960s hairstyle, which featured a giant bump at the crown of the head, attracted funny looks and jeers from her classmates. But eventually those of the female persuasion fell victim to the trend.
Williams brightens as a joke occurs to her.
"We were a head of our time," she says with a trademark twang.
A ‘ragamuffin’ who enjoyed life
Lynn Williams' repertoire of stories about "growin' up trailer trash" in North and South Carolina is a source of constant amusement for customers.
"One year at Christmas, all the girls in the trailer park got Barbies," she says, starting a tale with a grin. "I got a Daisy BB gun."
There's another in which her dad decided to cut the top off an old station wagon and let the girls drive around local cornfields in their redneck dune buggy.
Life at home was like something out of a Jeff Foxworthy routine.
Her mama, she says, "would heat water up and pour it in mason jars, and then stick 'em in our bed so our feet would stay warm."
"We were ragamuffins, but we enjoyed life," she says.
Among the many public schools she attended was one with three rooms, and a principal who was also a teacher, and the school's bus driver.
"And we had grits for lunch," she says, her voice rising in mock excitement. "Isn't that great?"
Never a stellar student, she eventually found her way out of the South by way of the military, she says.
She served four years as an Air Force mechanic and then married an officer.
That threshold forms the premise now for an entire genre of anecdotes in which Williams casts herself as an unsophisticated buffoon.
Her husband retired from the military 25 years ago and continues to work at Beale Air Force Base.
Williams' primary work has been in real estate, but she has dabbled in retail, and finally has the shop she says she is always wanted.
The decor features snooty Nordstroms mannequins posing beneath taxidermy works — bears, antelope, deer and a rabbit.
Inventory includes what Williams refers to as the "3 Sisters Collection," a trove of goods acquired from the estate of unmarried sibling heiresses. The three statuesque women shopped at only the most stylish and cosmopolitan stores during the 1950s and '60s, and commissioned specially-tailored garments of all kinds during their world travels.
The collection includes two pillbox hats — one made from zebra, the other from leopard.
Like most of the merchandise, these items were acquired by way of Williams' contacts in San Francisco and elsewhere in Northern California.
Most of her regular clients, she says, share her passion for shopping, though few perhaps respond as dramatically when they find just the right, unique item.
"Call in the dogs," she shouts, recalling the moment she first spotted her bamboo bicycle. "The hunt is over."
CONTACT Nancy Pasternack at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4781. Find her on Facebook at /ADnpasternack or on Twitter at @ADnpasternack.