Friday, July 13, 2012

Sew and Sew

SEWING IN THE 1920'S ,
Among my early memories of the late 1920's, is my mother sitting at her old Singer sewing machine, peddling away! Sewing was a vital part of her daily chores. She made her clothes, (dresses as well as cotton slips).
Mama also made most, if not all of the dresses and slips my sister Mary and I wore. And early on she has sewed dresses for my two older sisters as well as shirts for my five brothers.

But Mama did not consider herself an accomplished seamstress as was Aunt Cora. It was said that Aunt Cora (Mama's older sister) could go into a dress shop, look at a dress, then come home and make a duplicate.

Mama always said she did just "plain sewing." However,I remember the younger women in the neighborhood would often come to get Mama's help with their sewing.


Mama told me she learned to sew, like Penelope , by "sewing all day and picking out stitches all night." She said she just "kept dabbling with it until I got it right." She did "get it right." The finished dress was well done.

I did not realize this until later in life, but my mother never thought of herself as a pretty woman because her eyes did not focus properly. She was embarrassed that her eyes were "crossed." She always wore glasses, but she had a good figure even into old age.

One of the stories I remember from childhood is that of a neighbor lady who came over one day to borrow a pattern to make a dress like Mama had made for herself. After the lady left with the pattern, my father turned to Mama and said, "She need not think when she finishes her dress like yours, she will look as good in the dress as you do."

Perhaps this helps to explain why Mama never found any fault with Papa! I told this story in a sermon one Father's Day in East Point United Methodist Church to illustrate the fact that Christian men usually know how to love and treat a woman. A few compliments go a long way! Following the Golden Rule would solve many of our interpersonal relationships.


Cotton print dresses were the usual daily attire for women in our small town. These outfits had to be washed, starched,and ironed. No drip-dries nor wrinkle-proof material in those days.

I especially remember Mama working against a deadline to get my Girl Reserve Camp dresses finished. Every year, we made a long train trip to Savannah.

The first time I saw the ocean was on one such trip. The first time I ate in a restaurant was on a Girl Reserve trip to Savannah. (BTW The first time I was served fish with it's head still attached on one of our Girl Reserves trips. None of us little girls would eat it and laughed into the night about anyone "eating a fish while it looked at us.")

These Girls Reserves trips were events that required preparation. Mama was always working with some of the other mothers in the neighborhood to get us girls ready for camp. In my memory I see Mama sitting at the old sewing machine and peddling away with Blanche Fincher and other young mothers in the room consulting with one another about how the Girl Reserve dresses and scarves needed to be fashioned just right for the event. The dresses were shirtwaist pattern. Each little girl was to pack two white dresses with blue scarfs and two blue dresses with white scarfs to wear for the trip.

10 comments:

beth said...

This is a great story. I always thought your mother was very pretty. I only knew her as an older woman and I was a child, so I can't say I looked at her that way. But she was very attractive and certainly had a dignified manner about her.

Carol said...

Absolutely fascinating! I never knew you went to Savannah as part of the Girl Reserves. TELL US MORE!!!

Jane said...

I love the comment Papa Baird made about the dress. How sweet. Daddy must have taken after him because I remember hearing him say things like that the mama.
I love your stories Aunt Ruth. It keeps me connected to daddy.

Debi said...

I love the story about the dress pattern. I remember you telling us that, sometime in recent years. I will be glad to get to know Papa Baird, when I get to heaven! Debi

The People History said...

Our memories from parents and grandparents provide each new generation with an insite into how changes in society, wealth and culture have changed over the years and should be preserved

A Memory remembered and shared is A Memory not lost and can be read by future generations

don said...

Thanks, Aunt Ruth, for more insight into my beloved Granma. I wish I had known "Papa" Baird, who died before I was born. One trait I remember is that Grandma made every one of her many grandchildren feel they were her only one... and taht's true with you, Aunt Ruth.
Keep all these delcious stories coming.

the night owl said...

Hi Ruth,
I have enjoyed reading your story about your family.I have a sewing machine,but have never learned to sew very well.You have to have a talent for it.What were Girl Reserves ? Were they like girl scouts?I live in Savannah, born and raised here .Come visit my blog. Baba

Anonymous said...

What a sweet story. I really enjoyed this.
Thank you, K.E.

Anonymous said...

i have had a report assinged to me on sewing. is there anyway you could help me with my report?

Lindi Hall said...

My what precious memories. Thank you for sharing them with us Miss Ruth~