Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Treadle Sewing Machine

I was browsing the other day through images to use in my blog, when I ran across this drawing of an old Singer treadle sewing machine. Immediately a flood remembered sights, sounds, and smells filled my concisousness. My maternal grandmother had a machine just like this one. It sat adjacent to the bed in the master bedroom of her house. She and my granddad lived in the country in a Sears and Roebuck Kit house, and the master bedroom was on the right hand side at the rear of the house. I usually slept in the front room just adjacent to the front porch. In the winter it was the coldest room in the house being the furthest away from the fire places.

The house in this small photo is very similar to the one they had except that the porch was half as large and the front bedroom extended to the front even with the porch. There was a fireplace in the front room (living room) just behind the front porch, and another double sided fireplace between the middle bedroom and the master bedroom. The middle room behind the living room on the left side of the house was the dining room, and behind that was the kitchen. In later years, a back sleeping porch was added and an indoor bathroom at the corner of this porch. The house always smelled like good food. My memories of my grandmother always center around the kitchen. As I recall, that's where she spent most of her life. Early in the morning before the sun came up I could hear her rustling around in the kitchen. The smells of biscuits baking, coffee boiling, and bacon frying were the best alarm clock anyone could ever want. When we visited, I liked to poke around the house looking in everything for treasures. My granddad's roll top desk held writing paper, pens, Sunday school books, his bible, receipts, cigarette papers, Prince Albert tobacco tins, pipes, chewing tobacco, and an assortment of other treasures. But the most accessible trove was the old treadle sewing machine with its small little drawers. There a kid could find, in addition to needles, thread, and other sewing supplies, a plethora of items grandmother had taken from the pockets of clothes she was mending. There were pocket knives, marbles, shotgun shells, rifle bullets, buttons, fishing lures, hooks, bobbers and anything else one might forget to remove before putting his torn or buttonless garment in the pile to be fixed. We also enjoyed working the treadle and making the machine operate. When my grandmother heard these sounds from the adjacent kitchen, she would yell, "You younguns quite pilfering in my sewing machine." That usually stopped us for a while. We tried to stay on Mammaws good side because it could mean a special treat if you did. My pawpaw worked in a general store and always brought home candy, chewing gum and soft drinks. The old pie safe in the kitchen held the candy and gum, and the soft drinks were in the refrigerator. My grandmother loved Grapette sodas in the small bottles. They were a brand made originally in Camden, Arkansas starting in about 1939. She guarded her Grapettes and woe be unto the child who dared get one of her special treats. So, when you merited a treat, mammaw would offer you one of her special drinks. I don't remember being asked to have one very often, but when I did, I felt really special. I was fortunate to have great fun when I was a child, and to be surrounded by loving and caring parents and grandparents. I know some have not been so fortunate. I enjoy my own children and grandchildren now that I'm retired and have time on a regular basis to dedicate to them.