NEW BETHLEHEM – A Mother’s Day gift was a dream come true for one longtime New Bethlehem resident.
Elizabeth “Hoodie” Rutkowski said she was more than surprised last Friday when her children and grandchildren escorted her into her very own antique shop.
“I thought it looked wonderful when they opened the doors,” she said.
“Wild Hoods Antiques and Collectables,” which is housed on the family farm along Route 66 approximately two miles outside of New Bethlehem Borough in Porter Township, offers a large variety of antiques, pottery, dishes, toys, local history artifacts and more.
“I’ve always liked antiques and the history behind them,” Rutkowski said, noting that she has collected a variety of things all her life. “I just love stuff — especially stuff that can enhance someone’s life.”
Since moving to the New Bethlehem area in 1953, Rutkowski’s collections have been well known as a means for supplying everything from clothing and furniture to household appliances for families in need.
“Mom has always been there to assist anyone in need,” said Rutkowski’s daugher, Beth Griffin, explaining that her mother opened the area’s first thrift shop in Fairmount City. “She has always been a big part of the community and was well known for collecting and giving back.”
While spending a lifetime helping others, Griffin said her mother has always dreamed of opening her own antique shop.
“I always said that I would like to open an antique shop after I retired,” Rutkowski noted.
It was that dream that inspired Griffin and her brother Gary Rutkowski, along with three of Hoodie Rutkowski’s grandchildren — Mike and Elliot Rutkowski and Lucy Hood — to begin the four-month project of cleaning the space and gathering their mother’s collectables from a variety of places where she had them stored.
The family surprised Rutkowski with the fully-stocked shop on Friday, May 10, two days before Mother’s Day and two weeks before her 88th birthday.
“It was a longtime coming,” Griffin said of the family’s efforts. “I’m happy that we could come together as a family to make this a reality for our mother.”
Noting that “Wild Hoods” will not have set business hours and only be open when Rutkowski wants to be there, Griffin said her mother’s new business venture is not about financial stability but about sharing what she loves with others.
“The shop is really about community and being able to talk to people about history,” she said.
“If you’re driving by and the open sign is in the yard, stop in for a visit,” Gary Rutkowski added.
Although it took a lot of work to bring Hoodie Rutkowski’s dream to life, her family said it was all worth it just to see the look on their mother’s face when they opened the barn doors.
“Her face said it all. I’m so happy for her,” Griffin said. “This was definitely a Mother’s Day gift of love.”