Chocolate Can Kill (Emily Harris Mysteries) by Annie Acorn
Those of you who follow this blog will recall that my earliest memories are housed in a duplex in Columbus, Ohio, where my paternal grandmother and great-aunt lived in the other side of what we referred to as “The Double.” This grandmother had been trained as a seamstress in England before crossing the Great Pond and entering her new home through Ellis Island.
With Easter fast approaching, as soon as the spring fabrics had made their way into the stores, I was destined as the eldest of her granddaughters, already at four a housewife in training, to accompany her on the bus to Lazarus department store downtown. Here we would rummage through fabric remnants for hours on end, pick through the year’s new spring patterns, and finger rickrack galore. Eventually, we would stand at the high counter, and I would peer over as shears snipped at my eye level through the yards of white organdy that would be required for my and my sister’s pinafores.
Our purchases made, if I had been good, we would head to the tea room for a piece of Lazarus’s famous chocolate layer cake served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. I have always believed that this grandmother is the one responsible for my well-developed chocolate gene. Can you even wonder why? [Roses and Chocolates]
Another long bus ride and a walk of three blocks brought us home again, where I would fall into my bed, for once more than willing to take my required afternoon nap. Here I would drift off to sleep to the rustle of paper bags and the excited chatter of my mother and great-aunt and my grandmother downstairs.
The next day the patterns would be laid out and cut on my grandmother’s dining room table, as I watched and removed all of the unnecessary bits as they were clipped away, making numerous trips back and forth to the adjoining kitchen. This task completed, my grandmother would pull out her pin cushion and lay out the material for the first dress, usually mine.
My great-aunt would place her hand on my shoulder as we stood at silent attention, while Grandma carefully arranged the pattern pieces this way and that. Making sure that not as much as a square inch of fabric was wasted was serious business. Both of these fine women had known and overcome hard times, and neither of them had forgotten. And remember, these were the two people responsible for having raised my father the family’s famous penny pincher. [My Father Was A Penny Pincher]
Once the tissue pattern pieces were secured to the fabric, my great-aunt would make each of us a cup of sustaining, sugar and cream-laced tea, since it was a no-brainer that my grandmother must be at her best when she embarked on her cutting. When we were sufficiently fortified, we would return to the dining room, where again a hushed silence descended, broken only by the snip-snip of my grandmother’s shears.
One by one, the individual pieces were separated from their remnant by Grandma, the Chief Surgeon, and handed to my great-aunt, who stacked the severed pieces neatly together. Finally the resultant dress parts would be slipped into a folded piece of white tissue paper that had been marked with either my sister’s or my name to await the ministrations of Grandma’s Singer sewing machine that permanently resided beneath the dining room window.
Now, it was time to begin the process all over again, as my grandmother had committed to complete two dresses and two pinafores in a fairly short time period. Not that her job would end here as she would immediately move on to the creation of plainer summer dresses, shorts, tops, and lightweight nightgowns.
Thus we would continue on through the morning, a light lunch, and into the afternoon. Usually, we would finish just in time for my afternoon nap, which I was not quite as willing on this day to pursue.
“Why,” I would ask, “can’t we start sewing now?” But my entreaties invariably fell on deaf ears.
Not that I would be allowed anywhere near the flying needle on my grandmother’s Singer, quite the contrary. In fact, I can’t remember my great-aunt ever having been allowed that exceptional privilege.
Instead, it would be at my grandmother’s drop-front desk that I would sit as she sewed. Here I would work just as diligently on learning to form my letters with a pencil on the paper spread before me as Grandma would work on her sewing. [Treasures In A Desk]
Together we would toil, each engrossed in our work as creativity flowed from our fingers. How adult I would feel, as my feet swung free beneath my dining room chair turned around for this purpose!
Carefully, I would draw ovals reminiscent of Easter eggs for my O’s until I filled in a whole page, moving on to sharp tepees with a cross in the middle to form my first A’s. Occasionally, joy upon joy, I would be interrupted for a fitting, complete with a few sticks from the stray straight pins that remained in the cut fabric.
By lunchtime on this third day, one of the dresses would be finished, and in front of me a small stack of pencil-covered papers would have grown. Sometimes, I would stay on the older generation’s side of The Double for my midday meal, hoping that my naptime would be forgotten. Inevitably, though, my great-aunt would walk me home, where I would show off my own handiwork with pride before heading upstairs.
Years later, my mother gave away my paternal grandmother’s sewing machine to a friend, preferring to keep her own, more modern model. My grandmother’s desk, though, now resides in my living room, and I still sit and write there from time to time as memory takes me back to that house, a spring breeze flowing through the open window, and the Singer sewing machine’s flying needle.
A Tired Older Woman: Loses Weight and Keeps It Off! by Annie Acorn
Murder With My Darling (Bonnie Lou Mysteries) by Annie Acorn
When to Remain Silent (Annie Acorn’s Kindle Short Mysteries) by Annie Acorn
Also available for NOOK!