Thursday, October 07, 1999

Goose dresser explains his passion

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT THOMAS — Herb Anderson doesn't believe in dressing geese like little people. You'll never see his Lucy in long, blond braids. Arms are a different story.

        He likes to sew the tiny, stuffed appendages right onto Lucy's outfits. He saw this on somebody else's goose once. “I thought, "That's kind of cute,'” Mr. Anderson says.

        Today, in honor of fall, Lucy's arms are dangling from a pumpkin-covered pinafore.

        Yeah. It's a little weird.

        But this is Kentucky, reputed birthplace of the concrete-goose fad. When a guy like Mr. Anderson wants to be funny, he gets a goose. Clearly, he's a bachelor, because there's nothing else on his porch: No flowers, hanging baskets or knickknacks.

        He's into goose minimalism.

        “I think in the beginning, it was something outrageous to do,” says Mr. Anderson, who writes computer software for a living. “Nobody who knows me would believe I do this.”

        He's especially unusual because he makes the outfits himself. About two dozen of them — nightgowns, witch's costume, St. Paddy's day dress — hang in a closet at his parents' house.

        Mr. Anderson, 52, moved in to take care of his mother. The goose hobby started after she died. A friend had one, so

        Mr. Anderson bought one, too. Then he pulled out his mother's sewing machine and started whipping up frocks.

        “I guess I had an interest in all kinds of crafts,” he says. “I've done woodworking. It just seemed natural to get into sewing.”

        Besides, the stores wanted $20 to $30 per outfit, and Mr. Anderson thought the styles were “too cute.” “They looked more like people clothes than what a goose might wear,” he says.

        Goose-dressing is big business in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, where the trend appears to be concentrated. In 1995, the Wall Street Journal speculated that the first concrete goose was sold in Western Kentucky in the 1980s, while the dressing phenomenon began in Indiana.

        The story quoted Dorothy Trout of Union, who had a goose named Priscilla. Last week, Mrs. Trout said she still changes Priscilla's clothes two or three times a month, to coordinate with the holidays. She has about 30 outfits.

        “I thought, "Oh, I'll just buy one or two.' Then it came Christmas, then it come Easter, then it came this or that,” Mrs. Trout says.

        She does it mostly to entertain the neighbors, she says.

        Before her husband died, Mrs. Trout lived in Florida, where nobody had concrete geese, much less geese in drag.

        “I never knew anything about it until I moved up here,” she says. “I told my daughter, "Oh, look at these geese with their outfits. That's so cute.' She would say, "Oh, mom.' And I'd say, "Everybody in Kentucky's got them.'”

        Gloria Strosnider, who owns the Goose Coop in Waynesville, Ohio, has a theory: Older people enjoy dressing geese because they missed out on the Barbie craze.

        But this wouldn't explain why men also shop at her store. Mr. Anderson bought two geese from the Coop. One was supposed to be a dress form, but she ended up on his hearth instead.

        Her name is Maude. Today she's wearing a tiny Scottish cap, black with a red ball on top. This is shown with a pink flowered dress, of all the yucky combinations.

        Mr. Anderson says he never got around to making a kilt. Plus, Maude's top will have to be a jacket, which he describes as “a tricky design problem I haven't figured out yet.”

        He had better hurry, because I'm predicting the next trend will be goose fashion police.

        Please, everybody, take that as a hint.

        Karen Samples is Kentucky columnist for the Enquirer. Her column appears Thursdays and Sundays. She can be reached at 578-5584, or by e-mail at


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