A Woman of Parts Patricia (known to all as Patti) O’Day is a woman of many parts. Handbag maker, furniture restorer, gardener, dance enthusiast, magazine consultant.
Oh, and she also plays a fair round of golf when it is not too hot. “Don’t handle the heat as well as I used to,” shrugs the compact dynamo with the long swing and occasionally salty tongue.
Patti’s life has been a moveable feast since she left the parental home in southern California. She married very young – too young, she says – divorced young and raised her son Jeremiah for some years in San Francisco.
When the drug scene got too out of control for her liking in that city she investigated upper New York State on the advice of a friend. There, Patti found a less urban, more family-friendly environment better suited to raising a young boy. Mother and son migrated east in 1977. Deciding she needed more education, Patti enrolled in a marketing and economic course at Elmira College, finishing the four-year program in two and half years.
An internship with a solar company during those years provided hands-on experience to supplement the academic. Post-university stints with an outfit that did slide presentations – switch to videos or begone, she warned them, to no avail – and sales work at the NBC TV affiliate in Syracuse prompted her to open an advertising agency. “I knew it was a highly competitive business with a high burn-out rate,” she remembers. “My goal was to create something I could turn into a profitable operation before reaching that burnout.” She did and sold it to a Chicago-region couple after twelve years.
During those years, Patti met Tim O’Day, a coal broker and amateur golfer par excellence. (Tim won the North South Super Senior, among other prestigious events). They married and Tim proved a superb surrogate father to young Jeremiah. Tim’s uncle owned a condo near Lake Pinehurst and the couple – Patti having taken up golf and worked a 30 index down to 9 – visited to golf with some regularity. The uncle died in the late 1990s and the O’Days eventually acquired his condo. They commuted back and forth between Pinehurst and their condo in Skaneateles, NY for six years before settling permanently into 55 Hearthstone Rd.
Tim, a very popular member of the community, died of liver cancer in December, 2009. Since then, there have been a couple of men in Patti’s life, none of them permanent so far. Patti designed and sold handbags made from upholstery material during her San Francisco years. “I always suffered from shoulder and neck problems and decided to create smaller bags that women could not fill so full and so damage their shoulders.” She sold all she could make in the carts and crafts fairs of the city.
Upon moving to Pinehurst, she decided to revive the business, selling some to individual customers or at craft fairs but the bulk via ETSY, an internet site devoted to moving the products of craftsfolk. Then ETSY opened up its site to small manufacturers from Asia. That drove Patti out of the business, though she still fills a few custom orders. “I didn’t see any point in crying about it,” she says. “Time to move on.
The idea of restoring old furniture appealed and I researched the chalk paint – a blend of plaster of paris and non-primer latex paints – approach to working with wood. An outfit on Route 5 hired me to refinish furniture that was in horrible, horrible shape; then sold them as shabby chic.” Lately she’s purchased some other pieces to refinish. ETSY remains her prime sales avenue. Her next venture will be painting upholstered furniture. That website also provides an outlet for the various collectible items she and her husband accumulated over the year.
“Tim collected early American pewter,” she says. “It did not appeal to me very much. So I researched the subject to discover value and interest and began listing pieces on an ETSY site I call TimsTreasures. Since then I’ve sold about 100 items. Not all are pewter, some are plates I collected in my younger days and now sell to others looking to fill out sets.”
Not long ago, a friend suggested she might help out with a bi-annual publication called Traditions. She talked to the publisher who thought her advertising and marketing background would prove useful in smartening up the look and operations of the publication. When not engaged in her various business activities,
Patti keeps fit via daily visits to the gym and dancing. “One of my old Zumba dance instructions is running classes in fitness dancing,” she remarks.” The other night I came out of the class so wet it felt like I had taken a shower with my clothes on.” The physical activity provides release for Patti’s considerable energy and keeps her flexible enough to till the vegetable garden behind her house. When the weather gets cooler she’ll find time for golf; no doubt still grumbling when shots do not meet her high expectations. That’s what happens when you once won tournaments but have been too engaged in off-course activities to prevent the index from sliding north.