Vintage clothing and uniforms tell the stories of a different time, and the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation is paying tribute to the Winter Garden residents who donated the material pieces of their past.
The WGHF held a reception Sept. 28 to showcase its new exhibition, “Dressing the Part: Selections from Our Wardrobe Collection.” In attendance were some of the people who made the donations.
“It’s very much a cross section of people in Winter Garden who donated items,” said Jim Crescitelli, WGHF director. “It’s a representation of people who sacrificed time to their community and their country — and it’s the story of the people who made this community.”
Nearly two dozen uniforms and costumes grace the walls and mannequins of the Winter Garden Heritage Museum, 1 N. Main St. There also is a display case of artifacts such as caps, badges and uniform patches.
The oldest piece in the collection is a Chinese-issued 1941 Flying Tigers jacket worn by George McMillan in World War II. Other military uniforms include a trench coat worn by Melvin Creamer in the Vietnam War and a Gulf War-era Air Force Academy training uniform worn by Larry Joe Walker Jr.
A United States Army service uniform belonging to Lt. Col. Sylvester Johnson represents his military career of more than 20 years, which started with the Army Signal Corps.
Several of the items on display represent Lakeview High School. The pink gown belonging to Jodi Felts Suggs, the 1958 Homecoming queen at Lakeview, sits near a 1961 varsity jacket owned by class president and varsity fullback Pat Moran, as well as a letterman jacket from 1971 worn by multi-sport athlete Rusty Jenkins.
Other pieces include a McDonald’s employee shirt worn by Glen Spears, Don Creech’s Boy Scout Troop 210 scoutmaster uniform and several articles of clothing donated by Dal and Betty Duppenthaler.
“At its core, apparel is an extension of ourselves,” reads the exhibition’s display board. “As we do with words, we express ourselves sartorially through the visual language of our attire. … Dress is in many ways a distillation of every aspect of our society. … Through the way we have dressed ourselves, we learn about our ancestors — how they performed their jobs, what materials were available and how they chose to present images of themselves. As we observe and preserve changes in attire through the years, we see how fashion, style and daily life have evolved in West Orange County.”