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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Her Name Was Elise!

When I picked up the copper colored “Household” in Georgia on my way home the other day, I was so excited to see if I could get it running that I neglected to check out the goodies and notions that were in a plastic bag, stuffed down into the cubby hole in the right side of the machine base.

The usual stuff was in there…old thread, old bobbins, some rusty, some good – needles ---some snaps.  A broken seam ripper.  A needle threader.

And two folded pieces of paper.

Two receipts from previous servicings, complete with name, address, phone number and dates!

A quick search of the name on the invoice let me know that Mrs. Elise Connally lived in this house (approximate ---according to google maps) in Atlanta, Georgia

Once I had a name and an address, it was easy to search for an obituary.

She was born in 1922 and passed from this life on Jan 24, 2004.

We know that she lived at this address at LEAST since 1978 up until the time of her passing.

From her obituary, I also learned that her maiden name was Turnipseed.

If she had indeed had this machine since it was new in the 1950’s ---it went a good long time in between servicings, or I think that there would be more receipts! She cared enough to save THESE receipts...it goes with the thought that if there were others, they would be here too.

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Invoice dated April, 1978

In 1978 a full servicing and replacement of the check spring that caused the top thread to not pick up the bobbin thread cost $19.77

I absolutely love that every step taken in the course of fixing the machine was listed plain as day on the invoice.

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Invoice dated March 30th, 1994

Evidently she had sewn enough that she needed a new needle plate!  Perhaps there was a burr ---and her tension had to be repaired again.  This time the service cost her $47.31.  The price had more than doubled in 16 years.  Of course the price of the needle plate itself was a big chunk of that.

Was this the last time the machine had been professionally serviced?  I looked at the headers of both receipts and they were done at the same place – Home Sewing Center.  I tried to look them up online,but I couldn’t find them – maybe they were bought out or the name was changed?

This sticker was evidently placed on the machine at the last tune-up:

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You can see where I tried to peel a corner and get it OFF of there – but it is very securely STUCK.  And after discovering what I have about Elise, I think I’ll keep it there.

Dear Elise ---

I hope you would be pleased that I have rescued your beloved Household sewing machine!  If only she could talk and tell me of the things you sewed on her.  These machines were built to last a lifetime, and you put 50 years worth of sewing into her.  Only two receipts in that period of time?  Sounds like a swell running machine to me!

She will have a good home here with me --- sewing quilts for at least another 30 years if I have anything to say about it!

42 comments:

Annette said...

I'm sure Elsie would be thrilled that you have her "workhorse", imagine what it has sewn possibly for a family. Servicing may have only been when necessary. Annette...Melbourne, Australia

OconeeGreene said...

Oh Bonnie, what a priceless find! Thank you so much for sharing this story with us!

Judymc said...

I have a repair shop sticker on an old Singer machine that belonged to a dear friend of mine--it's going to stay, too. I hope my machines go to live with someone that will love them as much as I do--but not for at least 25 or 30 yrs.!!! LOL

Sherri said...

wow not only did you find a "diamond in the ruff" but you've been able to trace it back to it's origins. That is amazing! Priceless and almost unheard of actually.

I think it means much much more when you know who used it and where it came from. I think it is special too that you wrote a note to her.................very touching :)

Shari said...

What a wonderful story! I wonder if any relative of Elise sews and maybe just maybe she reads your blog or watches your quilt cam. Maybe Elise passed on the sewing gene to someone in her family. Now I am very interested to see where your story goes! Thank you for sharing it.

Kristy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
thequiltersshed said...

Thank you for sharing. Touching story and a caring owner, YOU.

jaciqltzb4u said...

oh how fun! I love it when I adopt on old girl & find she has a story to tell!

Eileen S said...

What a sweet story! I'm sure Elise is looking down at you and smiling.

tinker said...

so sweetly told by you. It's a wonderful post, and perhaps some granddaughter of elise will run across it someday... wouldn't That be special?

Allison in Plano said...

I always enjoy your thoughtful and story filled posts. Such a sweet note to Elise at the end. I found a dry cleaner receipt in the drawer of a cabinet and found out it was two doors down from the local sewing machine repair shop that was still in business. I called to see if they had repaired the sewing machine in 1974, but they were new owners and did not have records going back that far. Always worth a call or some address research to possibly find out more.

debi said...

how fantastic was that Bonnie!

Peggy said...

This is why I love reading your blog....such a great story!

Andrea S. said...

I am very fortunate my mother kept all kinds of receipts for ever and ever amen! I am the opposite - I tend to throw them out. But when she passed away, I found the receipt for her Singer, and have noted the serial number and birthdate on it, and am tucking it in with the machine's book and other bits. I don't usually name my things, but my mom's name was Shirley (you actually met her, Bonnie, when we were in SLC!) and now I think that will be the machine's name. Great, now I have to think of names for the rest or they'll be jealous...

Joy said...

This chokes me up for some reason---I'm so glad you have the precious sewing machine now, Bonnie! I know you will use it with great love and care. Elise would be so happy!!

Val said...

Wow. I LOVE this story! That is amazing!

Tammy said...

Oh how wonderful...What a great find indeed. A part of history for sure.

Anita said...

What a great story! I found a receipt with my featherweight and am thinking of having it framed, it's just so cool to have that history :)

Lori said...

How funny to find those receipts and link this to a person. Makes this one a little more special.

Shirley in Canada said...

what a beautiful story!!

pattiespea said...

I have a singer 301a that once belonged to a lady that I met in 1976. She was married to a farmer here. after her passing, the sewing machine was given to my next to the oldest Son, who passed it on to me. It was placed in our barn where it resided for 5 years. I went out one day, brought, her inside and started cleaning her up. I replaced the electrical leads after cleaning it up. It sews beautifully. I named her "Toots" after her previous owner, "Toots" Keller.

Terry said...

Love the story. As for why she didn't have it serviced more often, perhaps, she did the routine maintenance herself? I've had my FW for eight years and I bought it on e-bay. Can't say I got a "deal", but "Inky" is a great machine. She went to the FW mechanic when she arrived for a service and came back with a stellar report. Then six months later, I took a FW maintenance class and I've been doing the service on the machine since then. When I strip her down for her "spa" treatment, my hubby just shakes his head because although I am NOT mechanically inclined, I've had no trouble giving her a general service. Just look at the money I've saved over the years! Elsie probably serviced her machine for the same reason.

MielNina in AZ said...

The minute you put up the picture of "Elise" I fell in love... to find some background is fabulous! I keep all my receipts for service I believe it preserves history, :D

Lisa said...

Interesting story. Maybe someone out there has heard of her and has a photo. Based on my experience growing up, we took the sewing machine in for repair only when it needed a repair that we couldn't do at home. I remember Mom and Dad taking it all apart and cleaning it. It was more of a "do it yourself" era and the machines were built to match that mentality.

pcflamingo said...

I am a great believer in serendipity and I would not be the least bit surprised if a relative of Elise contacts you to say how happy they are that the Household sewing machine has found such a happy home with another lover of sewing!

Sharon said...

You should write a book about the different machines you have. Photograph them and write what you know about their history, how and where you rescued them.

Janet O. said...

So are you going to name the machine after the former owner?
Very nice story, Bonnie. I love that you took the time to find out all you could to connect with the past of your machine.

45th Parallel Quilter said...

That is a great idea, Sharon ... a GREAT idea!

Roberta said...

I have a machine (same company, different version) bought at the same time frame, 1955, for me brand new. You only took them for service when they stopped sewing. Mine has only been professionally services a few times because it stopped sewing correctly. DH took it apart this winter and it wasn't loaded with fuzz like my Bernina gets. I sewed a lot on my first machine but now my Bernina grabs my attention. Well the singer treadle is screaming my name now too, love to do more strings on it.
Hugs!!!!

Deanna W said...

That is so cool not only to have the machine but now some history to go with it!

Pen Pen said...

What a cool post and how wonderful that you could find out so much about the machine from those receipts. So, now..the big question: Are you renaming Penny to Elise? I promise I won't be offended. LOL

Deb said...

How lovely that you tracked down her owner.

regan said...

I think I'd be tempted to use the name Turnipseed for this machine! I love that! :o)

Luann said...

I agree on the book idea. I'd certainly buy several copies for myself and gifts.

Suzy said...

What a cool piece of history. Did you notice there was no tax charged on the 1978 invoice? My how times have changed. :o)

shadypinesqltr said...

I, too, think she should be Elise. Lovely story. Lump in my throat.

Suzy said...

Oops, my bad. They charged 7 cents for the materials and no tax for the labor. *blush*

Unknown said...

My daughter (in Syracuse, NY) has an acquaintance whose married name is Turnipseed. Only time I've ever heard that name. How interesting. Loved the story. Kitty Longo

Susan Palmer said...

thanks for digging into the history of your new machine and sharing this great story!

Nann said...

Bonnie, you might want to go a step further and find the text (not just the citation) for the obituary and thus find her children. Maybe you could get a photograph of Elise.

Beth said...

How cool is it to find not only the machine but her history. It does make her special. Like your other machine's, Elise has found a great home. Enjoy.

Carol said...

I love the story of Elsie. I wonder if someone somewhere new the owner Elsie and might contact you to tell you all about her. That would be very interesting and such fun.