‘Alvie’ reflects on days as a model, other adventures

FAIRMONT – Alvie Hegener has a lot of memories.

“When you’re 90 years old, you’ve got a lot of things to remember,” she said.

Hegener actually is 94, and she displays a lively sense of humor when she recalls the past. One of her favorite topics is her modeling days.

The eldest of Ed and Emma Thate’s five children, she was born and raised in the East Chain area, which she refers to as “the suburbs” of Fairmont, and she attended school in Martin County.

“When I was 18 or 19, a friend said, ‘Let’s take a bus and go up to Minneapolis and see what they have,'” Hegener said.

Always up for an adventure, the two young women traveled north to the Twin Cities.

She got a job right away, working as a page boy, carrying luggage at the Sheraton Hotel.

“I got tipped 50 cents or a dollar to carry bags up to the rooms,” she said.

Hegener’s next job was across the street from the Sheraton. She worked as a waitress at a diner, serving many of the hotel’s guests.

“Then I got a job in a night club,” she said.

The club’s waitresses didn’t have designated serving sections. Rather, they traveled throughout the entire room, taking orders throughout.

“One night, the lady waves me over and asks, ‘How would you like to be a model for me?’ Well, that went in one ear and out the other,” Hegener said.

She eventually agreed to meet the woman the next day.

For the next four years, she modeled clothes at Young-Quinlan in downtown Minneapolis.

“I was 23 years old,” she said, and the clientele at Young-Quinlan could be intimidating at times.

“It was very exclusive,” Hegener said.

“I would get all dressed up and go to the [Young-Quinlan] Tea Room every day and walk around so the ‘ladies who lunch’ could see the clothes,” she said. “I walked down a runway – it was very narrow – but I never fell off.”

The modeling job that perhaps caused her to be the most nervous involved a fur coat.

“I was told to take the coat off and drag it nonchalantly down the runway,” she laughed, shaking her head. “I was so nervous. I’m wearing a full-length mink coat, and at the time I had $10 to my name.”

She and her husband, Don, were married before World War II in Minneapolis.

“You weren’t dressed up unless you wore a hat,” she said, pointing to a photograph of the newlyweds as they honeymooned in Chicago. Both the bride and groom wore suits and hats stylish in the early 1940s.

Hegener worked for a telephone company for 20 years, and she helped her husband run his company, Hegener Barber Supply.

“I sold straight-edged razors,” she said. “I didn’t know was it was, but I still sold it.”

The Hegeners built and sold homes in the Minneapolis area until Don died. Four years ago, Alvie moved to Ingleside in Fairmont where the staff members – who refer to Hegener as “a hoot and a half” – enjoy the tales of her life’s adventures.