Friday, September 13, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Two Flags and A Twist

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt brought to mind the many women in my family who could rightly be called a seamstress, whether they were making clothes and quilts for the family or sewing for a paycheck from the WPA during the Depression.  The approach I WANTED to take was to show you my mother’s exceptional work, but I could not narrow the field:  just too many pictures of the drapery, slipcovers, bridal gowns, doll clothes, costumes, coats, not to mention almost every stitch of clothing I ever wore to school. 

Instead I’ll tell 2 stories about my mother and sewing.


Mary Eleanor Davis Slade 1971
Momma sewing something pink

(1) As long as I can remember there was a sewing machine in the house and a project in the works.  If Singer, Viking, and New Home offered an odometer, it would have turned over countless times.  One Saturday afternoon when I had just turned 16, Momma was busy at the sewing machine.  Like most kids my age, I was eager to learn to drive.  I asked Daddy to give me a lesson.

His response was a mix of irritation and condescension.  “Teach you?  You want to drive?  You don’t need a lesson – you just get in the car and drive.”  Really?  Is that how it works?  I knew there was no use arguing with him.  He had other things on his mind.

Like a hole in his tennis shorts that needed repair. 
 
Fred Slade Portsmouth, Virginia June 1969
Daddy in tennis shorts and dress shoes --
what kind of look is that for cutting the grass?

He held his shorts out to Momma who was busy ripping out a seam or sewing a hem, maybe attaching a button, who remembers?  “Can you fix this seam?”

She looked up at him and said, “You want those fixed?  Sit down here at the machine and sew ‘em yourself.  You don’t need a lesson.  You just sit down and start sewing.” 

Big sigh from the Big Man.  “Go get the keys,” he said, waving the white flag.


Wendy Slade Mathias Christmas 1992
A garden flag for spring
sewn for Wendy by Mary Jollette
(2) It was Christmas 1992.  Garden Flags were a hot new item.  And they were expensive.  Flag material, however, was cheap and in plentiful supply at local fabric stores.  Surely my sister would be happy to receive a number of hand-crafted garden flags fresh from my sewing machine.  On Christmas morning, Mary Jollette opened my gift and burst out laughing.  When I opened her gift to me, I realized the joke:  she had sewn flags for me too. 


Poor Momma.  She said the weeks prior to Christmas were the worst in her life as she struggled to keep two secrets.  Constantly she fretted over the chance that a casual comment or an errant scrap of fabric would give one (or both) of us away.




Please visit my friends at Sepia Saturday who undoubtedly will keep you in stitches. 

44 comments:

  1. Two lovely stories that reminded me so much of my seamstress mother. I have many examples of her work, but have no photograph of her sewing, either by hand or at her machine - such a pity.

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    1. I think I have a total of 2, maybe 3, of Momma actually sewing. In life, she was rarely away from the machine, so you'd think I'd have had plenty of opportunities to get a picture.

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  2. I also have a seamstress (tailors) mother who sewed almost all of our clothes when we were young and made sure that we could all (including my brothers) sew too. I only have four sewing machines although I don't really count the antique Singer! I probably almost rival mum!

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    1. I learned to sew too, and I made a few things for myself and my girls when they were little, but I didn't LOVE sewing the way my mom did.

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  3. Two great stories - beautifully told too.

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    1. Oh, well, you're very nice to say so.

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  4. Extra points - You made me laugh! Your dad in his shorts, black socks and brown dress shoes is a classic. (Early electric lawn mower too) Every family should have a sewing legacy.

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    1. Good -- I need all the extra points I can get. Ah, the electric mower -- Daddy was famous for mowing over the cord.

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  5. I especially like the first story.

    Like you, I had many "sewing" options to go with but instead diverged to a hand made handkerchief.

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    1. Your handkerchief and story are beautiful!

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  6. So funny! Thanks for the highlight of my morning so far! I never ever saw my daddy dressed like that, it is funny, it makes me think, hmm a man that was nearly ready to go out for the day, shoes and socks ready, cool shorts and top to quickly perfect my lawn before leaving the house. Oh yeah, you know it, back in the day the lawn, "There lawn and it's tidy neat appearance" so very important, and it kept them looking like studs!

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    1. Oh Karen - if my little post is your highlight, then I'm sorry for your slooooow morning. Maybe things perked up for you. HA!

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  7. :) Love your cute stories. Dads are Dads, lol.... Mine once found his glasses broken and what did he do? Tied a rubber around it and kept on using it like nothing happened. He looked like a quack doctor.

    Hazel

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    1. Oh yeah, that's a good look too. Obviously he wasn't looking to impress anybody.

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  8. Two flags - one for each sister; I bet it was fun on the day.

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  9. A great comeback on the Driving/Sewing by your Mother...what a quick wit...like you!!! Hilarious lawn mowing outfit...my Dad would have had on his cowboy boots...not much grass mowing in the desert dirt, though! Fun flag memory...again, your Mom...I bet she was so fun. Nice that you have the Teal Ribbon and background in her memory this month.

    Sue CollectInTexasGal~Today's Post~
    Mind Messin' Scarecrow Stitchin'

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    1. Shorts and boots - yeah, that's hot!

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  10. Sweet post! You made me realize I do not have ONE photo of me at my machine! My girls wore dresses I made for all occasions and my son had shorts and dress shirts. every 4th of July everyone had "4th of July shorts to celebrate in...and not one photo of the seamstress! I will make that happen!

    I never made flags though...good thing...I never would have slept!

    Great photos!

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    1. But there will be plenty of pictures of you running, hiking, and climbing, all very much your natural habitat!

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  11. Ha:) Liked the bit about the white flag.

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  12. Wendy, always fun to read your memories. The flag story is funny, the same idea the same outcome. Your mother is a sweetie sitting at the sowing machine. It was the same at my home my mother would always make a nice dress for us three girls. I loved to go and chose the materials for something new. When I went to college I looked with longing in a boutique with gorgeous, ready made dresses, but they were all very expensive.

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    1. Yes, growing up I always enjoyed going to the fabric store. It was fun flipping through the catalogs of patterns to find one that looked like the current styles. We always were excited to be there on the day NEW fabric arrived.

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  13. OMG, FUNNY. great great stories. Daddy and Momma would be so proud of you. I guess I'll have to be the proudest for all of us.

    Go me, on that cute flag. That was a great Christmas.

    AND Daddy with those shoes and tennis outfit, hilarious and so him!
    I wonder how many times he ran over that cord?

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    1. That IS a cute flag. Not as cute as my pants though.

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  14. Wonderful post! My mom was a great seamstress, sewed mostly all her life. She is 83 years old now and in a Care home, she no longer has a sewing machine, but she still remembers how to sew by hand and is still taking some of her clothes apart, making sweaters into vests, etc, by hand sewing...God bless her!

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    1. It's wonderful she is still at her craft!

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  15. LOVE you and your sister and the flag thing! And your father? Mine never had lawn mower issues, but he used too much soap in the washing machine once; somewhere there is a picture of him in his boxer shorts and a snow shovel, shoveling suds out the back door of the house! Our fathers must have known each other!

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    1. Hilarious! Brothers in spirit, for sure.

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  16. Wonderful anecdotes Wendy. Your mother was a very accomplished lady, and a wise one too.

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    1. Accomplished and wise -- you got that right!

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  17. I enjoyed your stories and pictures! One Christmas one of my sisters and I had the same experience. There was a pattern for letter-shaped pillows shown decorating one's bed. Each of us made the other a set of pillows that spelled out our names. I had forgotten all about it until I read your post.

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    1. Glad I could bring back a funny memory.

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  18. Oh your clever mom! So, how did your driving lesson with your dad go that day? And did he wear his "dressy casual" lawn-cutting outfit during your lesson too?

    What a great Christmas that must have been in 1992. Both of you sisters giving each other the same gift. Well, great minds do think alike, right?

    Fun post Wendy!

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    1. I have only 2 distinct memories of my driving lessons: (1) Daddy always took me out to Victory Blvd, "the big road." I guess there was more room for error. (2) Pulling into the driveway, I totally blanked and couldn't find the brake. Daddy stretched over and hit the brake a nano-second before plowing into the garage.

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  19. Great stories! I love how your Mom threw it back in your Dad's face - "you don't need a lesson". Hahahahaha!

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    1. Yes - I love that too. Daddy always thought Momma was the funniest person.

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  20. Great story. My mom sewed a lot but in later years sewed only quilts. She loved her older Singer machine even though she bought a new Sears machine.

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  21. Love your mom's reply to your father!!!
    ;D~
    HUGZ

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