Photography by Mark Lee
At Garnet Hill we’re dedicated to bringing you delightful finds we’ve gathered from around the globe. A luxurious fabric, a new look for the home. But when an inspiration like Elaine Panush called our customer service line, she was just too good to keep to ourselves.
The first thing you need to know about Elaine is that she is 88. The second: she started playing racquetball when she was 79, and was in the 2012 USA Racquetball National Singles. Third, she’s utterly enchanting.
In search of Shirttail Pocket Tees for racquetball (the color-blocked designs reminded her of her favorite painter, Mondrian), she contacted Garnet Hill. She would let nothing, not even the fact that inventory indicated they were sold out, stand in the way of getting what she wanted. Joe, our customer service manager, was able to find more of the tops, and after they were delivered, we received a lovely letter from Elaine, complete with photos. She was certainly complimentary of our products, but what stood out to us was her indefatigable spirit.
Whenever I go to the YMCA for my daily workout they ask, ‘where did you get that T-shirt? You look so great! Youthful!’ A zillion compliments. I felt 20 years old.”
What we find so uplifting about Elaine is her journey. She was a single mother raising three children who opened up her own sportswear shop to put them through school, and when she retired she began a whole new life.
After having a valve removed from my heart, I got very serious about exercise…to the point that I was obsessed with it. I actually became a new ‘Elaine.’ I joined the YMCA and was Woman of the Year five times.”
When I called Elaine for an interview, she was immersed in a Clippers game (the Celtics must not have been playing!). We had an enjoyable conversation in which she imparted several bits of wisdom. I can’t promise you the secret to longevity, but Elaine credits a positive attitude as a way to remain youthful and energetic. She also had this advice:
Older people do not have to dress in older styles. I would love to show your customers that you don’t have to let your age stop you from looking good!”
A delightful idea if ever we heard one.