‘Maxine’s’ celebrates a lifetime of devotion

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 23, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Maxine D. Statkus died in January, but her memory lives on through the shop established by her husband, Joseph, a man so devoted to the love of his life that he weeps unashamedly at the mention of her beauty, talents and love for people.

He opened his shop Wednesday and appropriately named it &uot;Maxine’s.&uot; Each of her friends came with the thought in mind of celebrating their late friend with her husband. The new people came mostly out of curiosity after seeing a huge ad in the News-Herald.

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The ad shows a photo of Maxine as she was at 31, the age she married Statkus. He had the ad printed up with two-inch letters announcing the name of the shop, which is located in the old Art Jones Travel Service building on Market Street.

In Statkus’ words, his wife was recognized as one of Hampton Roads’ most talented creators, restorers and collectors of many interests.

Opening the shop door, it is evident she was a collector of objects of all sorts. Take the black amethyst glass, for instance. It appears black while decorating a table, but hold a piece to the light and a clear and appreciable amethyst blush shines through.

There is another table filled with milk glass of all shapes and sizes, and counters glistening with dazzling crystal. Pop it with a fingernail and the pieces ping so merrily they simply entice you to try another.

Sets of dishes bear such designs almost too beautiful to spoil with edibles, and they are rivaled only by the lamps that light the shop. Some of the lamps date back to the early 1900s, some are older. The glow from the shades of all sorts, sizes and shapes is the only light Statkus uses to illuminate his late wife’s belongings.

Angels grace one entire wall in the shop, and small cedar boxes from far away places dot one counter.

Walking through the shop is like stepping into someone’s home. It is decorated in such a way as to invite shoppers to sit and stay a while. White wicker chairs invite you into one area, while other places offer sturdier pieces.

The walls of the shop are a virtual gallery of quilts of all sizes and ages. Some are obviously extremely old, but also well preserved. Maxine love quilting so much that she would purchase the old quilts and rework them. In fact, the pieces she was working when she died rest on one of the display beds in the shop. She loved quilts so greatly that she even purchased puzzles with pictures of crazy quilts that would have driven some insane trying to fit the pieces together. Not Maxine. Statkus said it wasn’t unusual for her to work several each year.

Maxine also loved to travel and she collected old trunks. One bears a travel tag from Art Jones Travel Service stamped 1950; Statkus said it is ironic that it is right back where Maxine started with it all those years ago.

A lot of her life is on display within the walls of the shop. Even her beautiful clothing and fabulous jewelry is there for all to see and appreciate.

&uot;Maxine wore the best clothes, mostly from Denison’s,&uot; said Statkus. &uot;She wouldn’t want it to be given away to anyone who wouldn’t take good care of it. She always dressed so beautifully – even back when I first met her.&uot;

Statkus said he met Maxine while she was bartending in Portsmouth back in the 1960s.

&uot;My brother-in-law took me to the Moose Lodge and that’s where I met her,&uot; he said. &uot;She worked there for about nine years and then she came into her own. She began collecting beautiful things and she wanted to be at home and take care of her home. She certainly made a beautiful home for me.&uot;

Some people find it odd that a man so in love with his wife could let her things leave his possession.

&uot;I gave away so much to the children but I can’t keep it all,&uot; said Statkus. &uot;The jewelry and all the other expensive items, like our coin collections, I take home each night, but I am going to also let them go to someone who will appreciate them. I do not need all this stuff to remember the most beautiful women I ever met.&uot;

Statkus said he believes Maxine would approve, and he believes he had a sign from her when he went to an auction to pick up some furnishings for one of his other shops.

&uot;She always had the number 26 auction paddle to bid with,&uot; said Statkus with tears in his eyes. &uot;When I went to the auction after she’d died, and we hadn’t been there in five years, I asked for a paddle and the young man just grabbed one from the pile and it was number 26. He didn’t know… that was Maxine.&uot;