In 1942, my sister started school. My older sister. Much older.
At that time, any respectable little girl had new clothes at the beginning of every school year. But for first grade, it was especially important, in my mother’s eye, that Jane have new clothes.
My mother made every stitch of clothing that she, Jane, and later (much later) I would wear. So, it was time to sew. On her treadle sewing machine.
Just one problem. Mama had burned her legs quite badly in a kitchen grease incident. She had stiffness and pain and couldn’t power the machine. But the show must go on. The wardrobe must be complete. Jane’s clothes must be sweeter than any other child’s in first grade (maybe the whole school).
So Jane sat in the floor, pushing the treadle with her little hands when Mama directed her to start and stop.
Now, I wasn’t there. I can only imagine. I’ve sewn on a treadle machine a few times for the novelty experience. I know these few things:
Getting the motion started is not easy.
Stopping the motion (of the needle going up and down) is not instantaneous.
Five-year-old hands are not very adept at some things.
Five-year-old little girls have short attention spans.
Five-year-olds are fidgety.
Jane was always fidgety…well after the age of five.
In 1942, there was not a lot of leisure time on the farm. So the effort that it took to corral a child and include her as an integral part of the ruffles, tucks, buttons, and sashes being assembled astound me.
Maybe this explains where I got some of my determination.