I n 1977, a mother eager to keep her sons in Memphis inherited some money and invested it in a picture-framing business. Not only did Mary Anne Weakes’ sons, Davey and Glynn Weakes, become her partners, so did her daughters, Selinda “LinD” Bradley and Valli Saliba. Nearly 38 years later, 1910 Frameworks — whose name refers not to the address but to a bygone era of solid craftsmanship — is still going strong at 2029 Union Avenue. Although Davey retired last June and Valli left the company to raise a family, LinD and Glynn, along with three skilled employees — Traumel Jenkins, Carlton Rash, and Laura Scott — keep turning out quality products, while good-humored ribbing is all in a day’s work. We talked to LinD about changing tastes, working with family, and weird stuff people want framed.
MM: I’m curious about how your nickname is spelled.LinD: My middle name is Dwight, after my grandfather who was dying at the time I was born. My mother took the “Lin” out of Selinda and added the [capital] D at the end.
How’d the business get started? While Davey was in college at Memphis State in the 1960s, he worked at frame shops with friends from Greensboro, North Carolina. When they opened their own frame shop there, Davey joined them. It was called 1910 Frame Factory. After Glynn graduated from high school a few years later, he moved there to work with Davey.
I believe your mom wanted her boys to come home. She sure did. She missed them. And when our grandmother died, Mother inherited some money and she gave it to us to start the business. I was working at Sears and my sister was working for [a local hospital]. We left those jobs to join our brothers, and we went to Greensboro to be trained. We learned from the best.
Was 1910 Frame Factory in Greensboro a franchise, and is it still open? Not a franchise. And it was open until two years ago. The original owner closed it. So we are the only one left.
When did you open and where? In August 1977, at 2100 Union, in another old house across the street. The shop in Greensboro was also in an old house, so that was sort of a theme.
What were the early years like? A little slow at first, a little scary, but really it caught on pretty fast. We worked long hours to make it work.
How have tastes changed since then? When we first opened, it seems like everything we framed was wildlife. Imogene Farnsworth’s limited edition prints were really popular back in the day — lions, tigers, leopards — everybody wanted her works. Then in the late 1980s and early 1990s, customers wanted Memphis landmarks and skylines. Now tastes tend more to modern, and to brighter colors, and more photographs. Tastes are always changing.
Have you been affected recently by the economy? The last three years have been a little slower than usual, but business has picked up. It’s not like we’re a necessity. But I think some people, in lieu of taking vacations, are redoing their homes. We like those people! We tell them that you can keep the pieces you have but changing the mat colors can do a lot to freshen up a room and add a new touch.
I understand you’re the official framer for some organizations. Yes, for Memphis in May. We frame the posters they give to dignitaries and sponsors. And we do a lot of work for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; they send nicely framed thank-you acknowledgments to donors, and we also frame children’s artwork or pictures of the kids at events. We’re involved with other community organizations too.
Famous people as clients? Billy Gibbons [of ZZ Top] and Joe Walsh of the Eagles. And we’ve done work for the mayors and Pat Halloran of The Orpheum.
Unusual items you’ve framed? One thing I’ll always remember — a piece of surgical metal that still had blood on it. Weirdest thing I’d ever seen. We shadow-boxed it; we do a lot of that. We also framed a license plate, the only thing a girl had left of her car after a wreck. We framed a wedding dress, an Army uniform from World War I, a coffee cup, a pipe, a beer mug. Also a sword that belonged to the captain of a battleship, and we framed a little flag strip that flew from that ship.
(At this moment brother Glynn Weakes comes in the office wielding a fearsome-looking blade, saying, “Let me show you how this works, LinD!” Laughter and squeals follow. “This customer is a huge fan of Star Trek,” Glynn explains, “and this is a reproduction of a weapon used by the Klingons. Her father had one made for her.” He turns to his sister: “Did you tell her about the spiders?”)
Somebody actually wanted spiders framed, Glynn? Billy Gibbons. He was recording at Ardent [Studio] and he saw these dead spiders in a corner and for some reason he thought they were cool and brought them over. He took me and Davey to dinner at Molly’s La Casita that night. [His sister asks why she didn’t get to go.] ’Cause we were here working late and you weren’t.
Glynn, what’s it like working with your big sister? [Straight-faced] We used to have a lot of fun back in the early days. [Laughs when sister protests that they still have fun.] We do. We used to go out after work a lot . . . but we gotta get up and do it all over again, so we can’t have too much fun.
LinD, what’s it like working with Glynn? I sort of helped raise him, so it’s natural that I pick at him and he picks at me. He keeps us in stitches and it’s good to laugh.
Did you think 1910 Frameworks would last this long? Gosh, I was 27 when we opened, and I never thought that far ahead. But now we have third-generation customers. It’s awesome, we’re doing framing for our first customers’ grandkids.
Is your mother still with us? Mother passed away in February 1979, six months after our first anniversary. She had just turned 50. That was hard. But she kept us all in Memphis, and the business has been a really good thing.