Like mother, like daughter: Sandy got the collecting bug from her mom

Sandy Erdman, right, with her mother, Lewyelln Prondzinski, at a Christmas show at the Winona Friendship Center. Prondzinski died Feb. 12, her 93rd birthday. (Contributed photo)

Growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, I was an only child, and my mother, Lewyelln Prondzinski, was capable of being a working mother, but also a creative woman. She loved to read all of the home décor magazines and had subscriptions to Better Homes & Gardens, House Beautiful, Ladies’ Home Journal and any magazines that would show home décor.

The home we lived in was an older Victorian home with many windows in the living room and dining room that went from the floor to the ceiling, which made it expensive to purchase drapes to fit. So, creative Mom went on the hunt for fabric.

A store named Salet’s in downtown Winona had some unique fabric pieces, such as "bark cloth," that were sold off a bolt. She made drapes, pillows, hassock covers and used pretty much all of the fabric. I still have a piece of those old drapes.

The style of the furniture at the time was blonde wood. The end tables, coffee table, bedroom set and even the television was made of blonde wood. Soon, my mother found we needed more furnishings to fill the large rooms. In Winona, like in other cities, furniture stores would take in used furniture and sell it in bargain basement areas.

In Winona, we had Smith’s Furniture on Main Street. My mother would hunt their bargain area and find many cool pieces, and would repurpose, recycle and reuse when it wasn’t even cool yet. She even had my dad involved by sanding down a wood dining room table and chairs. She reupholstered the chairs in an oil cloth print.


This dining room table and chairs were of an excellent height, so they put it in the kitchen as a butcher-block-top kitchen island, where my dad, who was a baker by trade, liked to make many baked goods at home as well as at work.

We did need dishes, books and other collectibles to fill the spaces, as the home had large, built-in bookcases. No, she didn’t go to the local department stores, such as H. Choate & Company or any high-end store. My mother went to pawn shops that were like our Goodwill and Salvation Army stores.

She found Red Wing pottery dishware — Lotus and the Lexington Rose patterns — silverware, glassware and books (that she actually read, and some she would pawn back).

When my parents sold the home and we moved to a more modern home of the mid-’60s, most of my mother’s creative items were sold, and new furniture was purchased. In 1968, my father was killed in an accident. The home was sold, she met a new man, and she moved to Clearwater Beach, Fla.

She traveled the world with her job with AAA, seeing some of the places she had seen in magazines.

In Florida, she continued with her adventures to many more thrift shops, consignment shops, antique shops and flea markets. These were fun vacations to Florida, as I was still learning about antiques and collectibles, writing in magazines and starting my sewing business.

I never forgot what she taught me. When her second husband died, I moved her back to Winona, and together, we traveled to sales and did our creative work together as she purchased more antiques and collectibles to fill up those china cupboard shelves, as well as fabric to make pillows, hassock covers, tote bags and more for my business, Sandy’s Sweet Nothings.

She will forever live on in me; I am my mother’s daughter.



Antiques & Collectibles — Sandy Erdman column sig

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