Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My Pride and Joy. Thanks, Annie!

Years ago (more like 3 decades+) back in the summer of 1980, I asked my grandmother if I could have her old Singer when she stopped sewing.  She laughed and said she had many more years of sewing ahead of her, but if and when she stopped she would give her machine to me.  She didn't have as many years as she thought.  Alzheimer's gradually robbed her of her impressive sewing ability, and that same disease robbed me of that old Singer which my grandmother gave away not remembering her promise to me.  It was more than a machine to me, it was a family legacy, and it hurt that it just "disappeared".  I remember asking her about it sometime in the mid/late 80's, and it felt like a gut punch when she said, "I don't sew anymore.  I gave away my machine."  It's tough.  You can't be mad at someone with Alzheimer's, but I sure was mad at that disease.

Kenmore Model 33, exactly as my aunt left it during her last project.
Fast forward to 2013.  My great aunt is having some serious health issues. My dad works hard at making sure all her things are taken care of like bills, her house, medical stuff, etc.  He puts in so many hours of work and travel and each one of us kids has gone to visit her at least once since her health decline.  She's not local, so it can be hard to plan out days for visiting.

Anyway, during my visit to see her my dad and I stayed at her house.  Of course you know I'm going to check out her sewing machine.  It was bittersweet.  Her machine was covered with plastic, but still set up on the most recent project she was working on.  She was replacing the elastic in a pair of pajama pants.  The new elastic was pinned to the waistline, the seam ripper still in place, machine was frozen in time.  A Kenmore 33 purchased in 1967 that she will never use again.

Kenmore Model 33, Manufacturing date:  1967
I felt the cold, smooth metal.  Lovingly ran my hands around the top and down the side to the handwheel, and down to the on/off button.  At first I didn't want to move anything, just savor the moment.  Then I picked things up and looked at them.  Her tomato pin cushion, wooden point turner, seam ripper, hem gauge, among other things.  I stitched a few stitches on her sample, looked in her basket, and opened a few drawers to look for accessories.

Annie's wooden point turner
Accessory Attachments and Manuals for Kenmore Model 33
I found a box of "gems" in one of her drawers.  An accessory box from 1968.  Price still on the receipt at $5.99 for the following all-metal beauties:

Buttonholer Attachment for Kenmore Model 33
I really thought that was it, and it was thrilling.  However, the next day produced another present--a buttonholer for the Kenmore 33 also purchased around 1968 with the $9.99 receipt still attached to it.  Honestly, I don't know if she used her accessories that much.  They looked brand new and in great condition.  These little beauties were all metal, some fairly heavy given their size.  My dad asked if I wanted to take the machine home.  Are you kidding me???  Of course!  I would give the machine a wonderful, loving home :) .  Although getting that heavyweight machine in and out of her house and into the car was another story lol.  Those old machines weigh a ton, are sturdy as heck, and just don't die.  I think they'd rust out before wearing out.

Metal Buttonhole Templates for Buttonhole Attachment.
When I got it home, I immediately took my machine to the "spa" where the tech gave it a great tuneup.  It now purrs like a kitten, stitches beautifully, and will be once again lovingly and properly cared for.  And the best part?  It's a family heirloom for me.  That legacy machine that I never got?  Well, now I'm happy because I did get a legacy machine.  My great aunt was a fab seamstress just like my grandmother.  Every time I use my "new" Kenmore 33, I'll think of her and thank her.

Annie in her heyday.  Christmas in FL, 1952.


Anonymous said...

How wonderful that you got that machine. I have my grandmother's Singer 15-91 and my mom's Brother Kingston. I love having them!

Anonymous said...

What an awesome story! enjoy the machine and the wonderful memories associated with it!