Howard County answers: What's your most prized item in your wardrobe?

For Howard Magazine

Nikki Highsmith Vernick, Horizon Foundation president and CEO

A beautiful silver shell bracelet links Vernick to memories of her beloved “Dodie,” who lived the last years of an exceptional life in a shellers’ paradise.

Vernick’s grandmother loved science and the natural world. At home on Sanibel Island, Fla., she taught Vernick the scientific names of the multitude of shells she collected; some are on exhibit at the Sanibel Shell Museum.

“Dodie was a remarkable woman who cared about her community, her family and raising strong women,” Vernick says.

The bracelet is one of three made from her grandmother’s necklace for Vernick, her stepmother and her aunt. Vernick says it connects her to the “women in my life.”

John S. Butler, retired Howard County fire chief

“I have an old tattered fire department T-shirt. This one is special because it comes from an era when I was an instructor,” says Butler, who recently retired from the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services.

Butler says he owns about two-dozen blue Fire Department shirts, but his 14-year old favorite has the names of instructors and colleagues who were past students. He wore it when he helped move his daughter, Sydney Butler, into her first house, and says it embodies fond memories of the family-centric department he served for almost two decades.

“I don’t think I’ll ever throw it away; it’s going to have to disintegrate of natural causes,” he says.

Sue Kramer, producer/artistic director at HCC Arts Collective

After moving several times since performing in “A Streetcar Named Desire” at Fells Point Corner Theater some 30 years ago, Kramer can’t quite put her fingertips on the charmed pastel floral shirtwaist that transformed her into her dream role.

“I remember when I wore that dress, I was Stella Kowalski, and I lived on that French Quarter with my husband, Stanley,” she says.

Kramer held the 1940s-style dress physically close for decades, occasionally loaning it to other actresses, and says its history influenced her decision to direct “Streetcar” at the Arts Collective in 2005.

Until it turns up, she hopes her dress is “living with the theater gods.”

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