Even when she was young, Jeanne Fogelman loved things that were old.
Joe Fogelman says that when they were just dating, as teenagers in Philadelphia, the then-Jeanne Schwartz always liked going to antiques sales.
He didn’t get the antiques attraction at first, but he sure got the attraction to Jeanne: The couple had been married for 62 years when Jeanne died last month of heart failure. She was 82 — and she had dated Joe for five years before their wedding, her sister says.
“I think she met him when she was 14, and she never went out with another soul,” says Bea Metzman, of Ventnor, 77, the youngest of four sisters.
Jeanne was born just plain Jean, but apparently when she was 5 or 6, she decided she wanted to be Jeanne — which she and everyone else pronounced as “Jeannie” from then on.
She and Joe lived in Philadelphia and its suburbs until 1980, when they moved to Ventnor. By then, their four kids — Rhona, Mitchell, Sheril and Lauree — were grown. And by then, Jeanne was a veteran of the antiques business.
She opened her first store with her older sister, Rose, in 1960 outside Philadelphia. That store lasted just a few years, but Jeanne’s antiques career lasted as long as she lived. Almost 40 years after that first store, Jeanne opened another shop, Blackbird Antiques, in Ventnor.
“I think it was just about big enough for her and whatever customer she had in there,” Metzman says, remembering all the stuff Jeanne had stuffed into “a little, half-store” she ran for six years or so.
Jeanne’s daughters helped at Blackbird, says the oldest, now Rhona McKeaney, of Estero, Fla. Joe and Jeanne liked to go to Florida in the winter, and her girls ran the store while Jeanne was gone, says McKeaney, 61, who lived in Ventnor for years.
That wasn’t the first time their mom made the kids her antiques assistants. That tradition went back to her first store.
“We just kind of schlepped boxes, packed and unpacked, and we all did the flea markets,” McKeaney says — Jeanne did most of her buying over the years from private sellers. And now all her kids have the antiques bug, too, her daughter adds.
Joe, 83, ran a collection business until he retired, but he also helped Jeanne in his spare time. He would drive her to garage or estate sales all over South Jersey, Florida or wherever. And when Jeanne spotted something she liked, Joe would run out for the antiques guidebooks she always traveled with.
She liked the antiques business, but her family knows the real attraction was the hunt, the search for treasure.
“She always told me it wasn’t the money,” Joe says. “It was the love of finding things. ... It was just the love of antiques.”
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