Marcia Bloom (left) poses with Nora Tompkins at Bloom's store last week. The two came together after Tompkins heard that Bloom had been using a vintage image of her on merchandise at the Montana Avenue store. (photo by Daniel Archuleta)

MONTANA AVE ¬ó Although every picture tells a story, this particular phrase has a literal meaning for Nora Tompkins.

Little did she know that a simple snapshot of her day on Santa Monica Beach in 1965 would end up not only on a postcard, but also on designer Marcia Bloom’s merchandise 47 years later.

The day was like any other when Tompkins arrived at the beach with her sister Elaine and father Jack Stein. As the girls eagerly frolicked into the water, Stein came across one of his insurance clients who happened to take pictures for postcards in his spare time. He thought that his daughters might like to have their picture taken, and asked his client if he would do them the honor.

“Next thing I knew, my dad was waving us to shore,” Tompkins said.

The photographer arranged the girls with their faces toward the ocean and the Santa Monica Pier close in the background. According to Tompkins, although the occurrence was exciting, she didn’t give it any thought until six months later during a visit to the Sav-on drugstore.

“I walked in, glanced to my left, and stopped dead in my tracks,” Tompkins said. “I turned around toward the postcard rack and saw my sister Elaine and I on a postcard!”

After purchasing every copy of the card that they could find, Tompkins remembers saying to her mother, “Someday when I’m really old, someone is going to walk into an antique store, see this postcard and say ‘I wonder who those girls were.’”

For the most part, Tompkins ended up being correct.

Over the years, Tompkins kept a couple copies of the postcard and shared her story with close friends, including her neighbor Barbi Beers.

“I used to live three houses down from Nora in Westlake Village, and she had showed me the postcard before,” Beers said. “She told me the entire story, and she had always had the photograph pinned up on her fridge.”

When Beers stumbled across Tompkins’ postcard transposed onto a purse in Marcia Bloom’s store on Montana Avenue, she was shocked. After learning that Bloom had discovered the picture at the Wertz Brothers Antique Mart 42 years after it was originally taken, Beers thought it the perfect idea to prove Nora’s prediction true and surprise her with the purse.

“I gave it to her as a present,” Beers said. “I will never forget her face when she saw it. Her eyes got huge and she gasped and screamed, ‘This is me! This is the postcard!’ I just sat there laughing!”

After five years and repetitive suggestion on behalf of Beers, Tompkins finally contacted Bloom. Tompkins wished to elaborate and find out why Bloom had selected her postcard above all others to incorporate into her designs.

Bloom consistently uses antique images on her merchandise, but every bag that she has sold in the past five years displays Tompkins’ postcard. Bloom said she only uses images that evoke some fond memory and make people smile. After their long-anticipated meeting, both women left feeling satisfied.

“I liked that it represented what we all thought the beach in California was like,” Bloom said of the photo. “The meeting was better than expected. I felt that photo spoke to me, and now I know why.”


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