University of California,
1952 passport photo
on their way to Europe
No smiling allowed!
1969 Yearbook photo
English & Journalism Teacher
and Evelyn were born into a country on the verge of
dramatic, whirlwind changes. These changes helped
to instill in them a positive work ethic and
motivation necessary to succeed. Neither Milt nor
Evelyn were born into wealth, but created a sense
of personal wealth through their dedication to the
love of knowledge and artistic creativity. This
biography is dedicated to their memory.
was born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts in 1919. After
graduating from Newton High School (near Boston),
she attended Cambridge Junior College. While
working as a model for several artists while
attending college, Evelyn developed an eye for
artistic beauty that would last a lifetime. Wanting
to experience all life had to offer, she left her
home in Boston at the beginning of her sophomore
year to attended Pasadena Junior College in
California. When World War II began, she started
working for Lockheed Aircraft Corporation as a
courier of blue print documents.
was born on the family farm in Woodsboro, Texas in
1916. Growing up near the Gulf of Mexico instilled
a love of sailing that would always remain a
dominate influence in his life. Wanting to see the
world, he joined the Navy in 1937 and was soon
stationed in San Diego. Unfortunately, at the end
of Basic Training he contracted spinal meningitis
and lost his hearing. After being discharged, he
returned to Texas where he was trained to be a
draftsman. During the war, he secured a draftsman's
position at Lockheed where he met a beautiful young
woman who worked delivering blue prints to the
drafting room. That woman was Evelyn.
were married in 1943 and settled in Granada Hills.
Their first daughter, Rhett Regina was born the following year. Being young and industrious, they built their
first house together. When the war was over, they
sold their home and travelled around the United
States in search of the perfect place to relocate.
As life goes, they returned to California to live
in Santa Barbara, only a short distance from where
they had begun their journey. Milt opened a corner
grocery store called the Pantry Shelf. They both
worked as a team and at the same time, Evelyn
attended classes at the University of California in
Santa Barbara. In 1948, their second daughter,
Laura was born. In 1951 Evelyn graduated with her
BA and a major in History and was admitted to the
Honorary Phi Alpha Theta Fraternity.
seeking adventure and travel, they took an
extensive tour of Europe in 1953 when few Americans
thought of travelling to the war torn continent.
After returning to California, they moved to
Pleasant Hill so Evelyn could continue her
education at the University of California, Berkeley
to obtain her teaching credential. Milt was hired
as a draftsman with Yuba Manufacturing Company in
Benicia. In 1956, Evelyn began her 25 year career
as a public school teacher. She had a passion for
teaching English on the high school level, and
especially enjoyed supervising the publication of
the school yearbook. After winning a Wall Street
Journalism Scholarship, she returned to college
where she completed a Master's Degree in
retiring, Evelyn and Milt started an antique
business. After collecting antiques for many years,
their house was filled with many beautiful pieces.
Hoping to establish an antique shop, they bought an
old Victorian house in Jacksonville, Oregon.
Unfortunately, they were unable to obtain the
necessary permits to start a business at the house,
and decided to return to California. They did,
however, keep their business name of Helms House
Antiques, named after the Herman Helms family who
had built the Oregon house in the late 1800s.
Instead of reopening an antique shop, they decided
to sell their antiques at antique shows. Evelyn
felt passionately about her antiques and knowing as
much as possible about each piece. She had a few
beaded purses in the booth and customers often
asked about their history. Always wanting to be
knowledgeable about things, Evelyn discovered that
there was very little information available. Thus
began her quest for knowledge on the subject of
meticulous, Evelyn spent seven years researching
antique purses and combs. She spent endless hours
of research at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in
New York City, the National Archives in Washington
D.C., and various other libraries, museums and
antique stores. They journeyed to France, Austria,
Italy, Poland and England in search of places where
beads and purses had been made. Along the way,
Evelyn purchased purses, Milt took countless
pictures and together they gathered extensive
information on the history and production of the
antique purse. With this wealth of new information,
it was time to write and illustrate her first book.
Milt worked right beside her. He was an avid
photographer, having spent many hours in the
darkroom as a young man. He set up a darkroom in
the garage to photograph hundreds of purses and
combs. He had mastered the technique of developing
CIBA chrome prints, something few photographers are
1983, Milt and Evelyn published their first book:
Not completely satisfied and feeling there was much
more to say about antique purses, Evelyn
immediately began researching for her next book:
which was published in 1990. Again they travelled
to Europe to do additional research and find unique
purse collections. They both had come to admire
purses as works of art. Since its publication in
1990, More Beautiful Purses has become the "Bible"
for collectors and museums world wide!
old and fragile, many of the purses Evelyn
collected were badly in need of repair. She spent
countless hours repairing these old purses,
restoring them to their original beauty. She
collected frames, and purchased additional beads to
be used for her repair projects. Through hard work
and determination, she became an expert on the
process of purse restoration. Wanting to pass on
her experience, she held numerous workshops for
fellow purse restorers. In 2000, Evelyn published
her third and final book: Restoring
& Collecting Antique Beaded
Her desire to pass on all she had learned was
channeled to the contents of this last
to health issues, she was forced to reduced her
antique show schedule to one show per year, the
Miami Beach Antique Show. Each January she set up a
booth full of purses. It was an amazing sight to
see all those purses on display, purses she had
spent the past year so carefully
January of 2002, Evelyn lost her life companion.
Milton had a heart attack and passed away at the
age of 85, just one month shy of 86. The following
year was very difficult for Evelyn, and it took the
effort of family and friends to help her through.
At the age of 81, she prepared again an antique
booth at the Miami Beach Show and continued doing
so for three more years. Unfortunately, at 85, her
health kept her from participating in the show. For
Evelyn this was a disappointment from which she
never fully recovered. In March of 2007, she passed
away at the age of 87.
miss Milt and Evelyn very much! We admire their
strength and courage to live life the way they
wanted. They were a generation which endured and
absorbed so much: childhood poverty, the
Depression, a World War, the Korean War, Vietnam,
space exploration, television, the computer age and
so much more. They saw and experienced so much
sadness, but equally so much joy. We are proud to
be their daughters!
Rhett Regina and
Evelyn in one of her show booths.
Look at all those purses!