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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Some Days are Meant for Playing Hooky!

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I was cruising Craigslist last night.

I almost ALMOST got off Scott Free ---

You know, I don’t know whether to be happy or SAD when I can’t find anything of interest.  I should be HAPPY that there is nothing that needs to come home with me.  I should get OFF that page and go sew something!

And then I see at the bottom of the page “listings from nearby areas that match your search”.

Oh.  DARN!

What you see here is a serial number, that I just looked up ----It’s for this machine dated 1950:

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“Small singer electric machine with accessories case and folding table.  $100.00”

Heart palpitations!

And it was in Roanoke Virginia.  Roanoke, Virginia? That’s 2 hours up the road ---you need to let someone in Roanoke know to go get this!

No.  I “NEED” to go get this.  And I did.

I emailed the seller, the listing said it had only been posted 2 hours previously. And I waited --I thought for sure it would have already been snatched up, but I had an email reply about an hour later.

I told them I’d like to come get it in the morning.  “Do you really want to drive that far?” “Yes, yes I do!”

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The case is in great shape, and there are “some” accessories included – in a vintage greeting card box!

I sat down at the machine, and I ran it.  The story goes that the machine belonged to the gentleman's wife's grandmother who bought it in 1950 and lived until she was 99, passing away just recently.  It was her machine and she sewed on it often.  ((My heart is pounding!  A one owner machine!))

Some quick brain math let me know that she was 35 in 1950.  Probably raising young children and fitting in sewing on this machine in between all the other busy jobs a young mom has to fill her days and evenings with.

The grandmother passed away recently in Pennsylvania “on the farm, as they were Mennonites.”  said the gentleman.

“Did she quilt?” I asked.  “Oh yes, she quilted quite a bit in her younger years, she loved to quilt.”  he told me. 

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Machine on my dining room table.

The machine shows the normal wear and tear of 64 years of good use and still purrs like the proverbial kitten.  I asked the gentleman what the grandmother’s name was.  “Her name was Mary Jane.”  So Mary Jane this machine will be.

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64 years of wear on the table too.

From what I understand the table was folded up and put away when the machine was not in use.  The wood cut out part that covers the opening could not be located, nor would it have been recognizable as a viable piece apart from its table ---but that’s okay with me.

I love that the most worn places are the places where Mary Jane would have often laid her scissors, her pins, her seam ripper, and other tools – but most of all her hands.  I look forward to getting to know this machine by placing my hands where Mary Jane has had hers so very many times over the years.

And just let me say one other thing, gently in closing:

Just as it is not polite to ask a woman her weight or her age, it is not polite to ask a quilter how many machines she owns and why.

Just smile and know that I am a happy caretaker of this gift.


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86 comments:

  1. I own a FW three-way table -- mine was in nearly pristine condition when I scored it at an estate sale for $10. btw: I'm a Mennonite quilter!

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  2. You are so funny! Of course we won't ask you that! LOL
    Enjoy your new treasure!

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  3. woohoo - what a great deal, and you know its history!

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  4. Anonymous6:55 PM EDT

    You were just THERE over the weekend. I'm laughing and somehow I knew there was a new machine involved when you hinted earlier today.

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  5. What a lovely find. I keep my eye open to possibilities too but I better get a vaccination against your enthusiasm, it might be catching!

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  6. Oh Bonnie-
    I just laughed and laughed at your last comment about how many machines. I know I don't want anyone commenting on how much material I have or that fact that I still like going to the store for more! :-) So we won't say anything. Right ladies! :-) Love ya- K-

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  7. I admit it, I got teary eyed reading about your new baby. These machines were just so loved, and they made so many wonderful quilts. I hate to think of them lost or wasting away unused. I got 1950 Featherweight at an estate sale, the original receipt was included. It was bought on payment by a woman who signed herself "Mrs. James (something I can't read)". She paid $1.50 a week. Every time I sew with it I think of her.

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  8. I have a three-way table. When you find them, they are a "have-to-have." Congratulations!

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  9. I know this machine is in good hands now! Congrats!

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  10. Fabulous Bonnie! I'm glad you know the history. I am into family history and am documenting the family details of my recent 'one owner' vsm purchases to keep with the machines.
    Cheers from Dana in Adelaide, South Australia.

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  11. We retired within the last couple of years and moved in stages to our new home in Northern Michigan. I knew I had a "stable" of machines but wasn't really sure how many and which kind/models. DH offered this last LONG winter to check my machines over and oil them for me. It was busy work and he was happy to do it ... until ... it became like a Keystone Cop movie with machines just coming down from the sewing room and into the basement and coming and coming and coming ... last count was 12 .... so I agree with your last comment ... ;-)

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  12. Fantastic find. I love m y featherweight now you definately need to order a thread stand for it. I just sold my 15-90 so I'm down to my featherweight and my red and cream Bel Air and of course my modern machine that I embroider with. My Bel Air is in a treadle and I'm comfortable with the three machines as they all get used.
    Sue
    Upstate NY

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  13. Bonnie...good for you...you appreciate a well-tuned well-engineered machine from yesteryear (my father would say they don't build them like they used to)...sounds like a match that was meant to be!

    Diane

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  14. I am so glad you got this machine and will love it . I would hate to think it would set some place and rust. I think it is so great you know the history, she is watching up above while you sew on her machine. Have fun.!!!!

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  15. I knew it was a machine from your post earlier! I meet a dealer in Paducah who had found a cache of Featherweights in a closed Singer store that were in the original boxes from 1957. They were beautiful but out of my price range. I love the 1948 that I got at Goodwill. I am thinking about calling her "Bonnie" for the person who inspired me to look for one and whose blog gave me the info about Goodwill. Thanks so much.

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  16. What a wonderful story! We all know that you will give Mary Jane a loving home. I have a 1-previous owner featherweight, and so wish I had asked the first owner's name, but it was about 30 years ago, and I was so young....What a treasure you have!

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  17. So glad she found a home with you! Whatever makes you happy. Me I love reading about your finds, but am content to just have one machine to sew on...my Brother 8500. Diane

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  18. I'm 45 minutes away from Roanoke, just think.....that machine could have been mine. Oh well, so glad you added to your collection and I hope Mary Jane purrs like a kitten and will give you many hours of joyful sewing time.

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  19. what made you think we would ask how many machines you had? LOL---- I might not wanna know--I loved reading the story about Mary Jane....and her treasure that will now live with you---have fun--looks like she has many miles yet to *go* *~*CAROLE*~*

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  20. It wasn't until I discovered your blog 3 or 4 years ago, that I realized the card table I bought at a garage sale in 1979 at the tender age of 19 was a Featherweight sewing table. Thanks to you I now own a Featherweight to go in it! Love my machine and I do 95% of my sewing on it. Congrats on your find!

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  21. Anonymous7:59 PM EDT

    I love that you name your machines. And when asked about how many machines I have in my care I reply "oh, I have room for 1 or 2 more." My dh just laughs. Thanks for your stories...I love reading them.
    Sally
    San Diego CA

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  22. I'm glad Mary Jane has a good, new home. I hope to score a find like this someday. Enjoy your time together!

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  23. And I thought I got a steal on my featherweight off of craigslist a few weeks ago for $25, but you got the TABLE!
    My heart was racing as fast as my gas pedal to pick it up, I really didn't think $25 could be anything decent. But it was! (I had 12 miles to go)

    The fun is in the hunt!

    sew on ~ ~

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  24. If collecting/saving machines is your worse fault you don't have much to worry about. Colleen

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  25. And now she has a new home where she will be treasured. Lucky lady.

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  26. I have no need to know how many machines you have, just whether they make you happy.

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  27. I really feel that we all need back up machines just in case company comes and they want to sew. It's a good thing to have a room full!

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  28. Well, I really think the owner would be delighted to know that you now proudly own her machine. It couldn't have fallen into better hands. I hope you told them a little about yourself :-)

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  29. Anonymous8:37 PM EDT

    Oh Bonnie dear, You always give me a giggle as you find the happy place. thank you for sharing so much of yourself.

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  30. Lucky you and lucky little Mary Jane!

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  31. Bonnie, Bonnie, Bonnie..... You do have a stable! I have "only" 2 featherweights, a treadle and my Bernina 1130. I'd love more but we live in a very small house, and only the Bernina is always accessible, though one of the FWs always accompanies me to a class or retreat. :)

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  32. I've been looking for featherweight for weeks. Your so lucky to find this. I would also like a 1950 since that is my year of birth. Take good care of her.

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  33. I bought two Featherweights via Ebay. Only wanted one but bid on several and ended up with two. Then a friend GAVE me her mother's Featherweight. A 1946 one-owner machine that still had the original bill of sale with it. $130 was a lot of money back then! So now I have 3 and am heading out tomorrow to snatch up a lovely, lovely 1924 128-3 in pristine condition with a bentwood case and the key! LOVE these old machines! I won't say how many others I have, but my 99 is quite beautiful too... Then there's the Eatonia like the one you found and... and.... LOL Too many!

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  34. I am sooooooo jealous! I know that is not a good way to be, but I have looked in my area for years for a 1950 an have been unable to find one. Congrats to you.

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  35. !! that is so cool!! I hit a dead end tracking down my grandmothers old sewing machine. Felt bad but it did reconnect me with a cousin I haven't talked to in years and years. Being much older than I am she got to spend many more years with my grandma than I did and the stories she has shared with me about her have been priceless to me. I would of loved to find the machine especially now that I know all the patching she did for my grandpa and boys...the youngest being my dad. Also all the aprons she made for herself. I know I wouldn't have heard some of these stories if it hadn't started with getting bit by the vintage machine bug. :) So I'm happy. And happy too you know Mary Jane's story. :)



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  36. I also think it's not polite to ask a quilter how many quilts/tops she has and what on earth she's going to Do with them all!

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  37. I won't ask you if you don't ask me . . . LOL . . . love your stories and we all know your machines are in good hands!

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  38. Oh Bonnie! Mary Jane is beautiful and I know she will be so appreciated and loved. I am so glad you found/rescued her. Such a great find and to find out she was owned by only one person. You truly have a knack for ferreting out these machines. Way to go girl!

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  39. Right, don't ask a quilter how many tops she has and why she keeps making more -- or What are you going to do with all those quilts!?! I tell people I am a "process" person - as long as I can keep piecing and quilting every day, doesn't matter if or when I finish one, just so I can work on something and keep sewing!

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  40. Hot damn!

    Hope you left your cell number with them just in case that piece of wood shows up.

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  41. What a great story - and new machine to treasure!
    If you see this, and if you think of it ('cause gee, you have nothing better to do;)), when you're in Mackinac, would you ask some of the home ladies where they shop for fabric? I vacation in Mackinaw City quite often and have a very small shop in a neighboring town, but can't find any others. Thanks!

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  42. Hi Bonnie, my local sewing machine guy had two card tables and 17 feather weights for sale. I did buy the two tables for $150. But the machines were way too much. So I'm on the look out.

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  43. Congrats on such a terrific find. I love her name. This is a short comment as I must go check out Craigslist.

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  44. I have more machines that I probably should...so your collection makes it all right. When I tried to get rid of my 60s-ish Brother, my Darling hubby said...you may need it someday. I am so lucky!

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  45. MaryJane found a good new home!

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  46. Enjoy, Mary Jane has indeed found a wonderful home. I'm sure the original Mary Jane is very happy her machine is with you.

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  47. Oh never ask that! Love the story and the machine. She is in the most wonderful place she could be in. Mary Jane would be pleased. I have two machines on the way, why because they wanted to. More soon.

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  48. Perhaps when you die, 50 or so years from now, your sewing machines and quilts can be part of the Bonnie Hunter Museum of Quilts and the Machines they were Sewn On! You need to "label" all these machines with all the history you know of them just like we wish our ancestors had labeled the quilts they made!!!

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  49. Great find! And a wonderful story to go with it! Enjoy.

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  50. LOL! Now I feel better about the two new acquisitions I made this weekend. My DH spotted a treadle at an estate sale. I wanted only to replace the cabinet of my own treadle, but now I am proud owner of a 127 treadle w/Sphinx decals--my first vibrating shuttle machine--to go with my 66 Red eye. Better yet, standing right next to it was a 1942 Kenmore bullet shaped, brown crinkle finish machine in one of the cabinets that automatically raises and lowers the machine head as you open or close the lid! I refuse to count my "brood."

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  51. WELL, WHAT CAN I SAY? MISS MARY JANE COULDN'T HAVE FOUND A BETTER HOME. WANNA SEE YOU SEWING ON HER ON QUILT CAM. I JUST KNOW THE ORIGINAL MISS MARY JANE IS SMILING DOWN. ~~GAIL~~

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  52. The discovery is great--the timing, not so much. You just got home from the Roanoke area only to drive back. But Mary Jane is a lucky find. Conratulatios.

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  53. Great find! I just got a 1950 this weekend too! I found her at an auction but she doesn't have her carrying case or a bobbin case. Other than that she is in beautiful shape. Doesn't that make yours a centennial? I love your blog! I just found it when I saw your avatar in someone's blog roll. I recognized that sweet little row of numbers right away and had to investigate! :)

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  54. Please tell me where to look for the number you show in the first pix. This looks like it could be the serial number before or the one after my mother's Featherweight. She got hers in 1948 (ok, maybe not that close a relative). The carrying case is the same, the top tray (that is a ruffler attachment you show), everything. I still have it, but do not use it as I should have it serviced before to make sure everything works properly. Dad made her an insert similar to the table you show to put hers into the kitchen table (our only table for many years). I learned to sew on her Featherweight about 1961.

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  55. What a wonderful find! I would have driven two hours, too, and I do NOT need another machine. But what a beauty she is! Congratulations on the addition to your herd.

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  56. My recently departed uncle used to call me Mary Jane. She's a beauty! I'm glad she found a home with you. You are the best person to adopt her. I know she will continue to be loved.

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  57. I also have a Featherweight named MaryJane, but mine was named for the rather unusual houseplants the young man who sold her to me had growing in his apartment. I prsonally would not have recognized them, but my husbands friend had quite a green thumb during their mis spent youth, from what they tell me, and he was with me when I picked her up. As you already know, you got quite a deal... the table alone is selling for $300 locally. ejoy her!

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  58. I am so happy this beauty found a good home. I am quite happy to volunteer how many machines I have..... if I knew the exact number. There over 18 that I know of. LOL

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  59. Oh Bonnie, you need to ask the family if they have a photo of the first Mary Jane sewing on the new Mary Jane. I have a photo of my husbands granny sewing on her singer treadle which now sits proudly in our home. It's a wonderful link between granny and the machine. Thanks for a wonderful blog and all you patterns you share so generously. Regards Jennifer

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  60. It's not about want vs. need. It's not about the quantity of machines. It's about being a caretaker of history. These fabulous vintage machines and the past owner's story are being preserved, shared, used and loved! That's what is important in this high tech, disposable goods age we live in.
    Congrats on a GREAT find - enjoy Mary Jane - she's beautiful!

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  61. Well done Bonnie! Mary Jane has found a great new home and I hope ye have many happy hours of sewing!

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  62. Makes my heart ache -- poor little machine! and with a TABLE YET!!!

    Wondering if it is still available. I have a good friend in Charlotte NC....ummmmmmm.......

    Smiles, JulieinTN

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  63. she is just plain a gem! and so wonderful you know her history too...so many are "orphans" without a past....lucky...enjoy!

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  64. Great find and what a lovely story you have to go with the machine. My hubby never says anything...he owns more guitars than I have sewing machines!!

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  65. Congrats on the score, Bonnie. You deserve it.

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  66. OOOBer jealous right now Bonnie. I have been searching for a 221 featherweight for some time and I know my day will eventually come. I was on craigslist yesterday as well and totally missed this one -- I did buy a machine listed as a featherweight yesterday in good working order from a Winston Salem guy that was having hard times -- it turned out to be a 99- in a travel case instead. I helped the guy out and kept the machine from going to goodwill (or the landfill) so that made me feel pretty good.

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  67. What a wonderful find, Bonnie.
    I'm sure Mary Jane is smiling down at you, pleased that her FW is in such good hands.

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  68. Anonymous10:46 AM EDT

    Bonnie, it was of great interest that I read your message about your new featherweight. My mother turned 98 the day you bought your machine. As i read your message it brought tears to my eyes, as, what more could dear Mary Jane the quilter have wanted for her beloved machine but to have Bonnie Hunter give it a wonderful home and be so excited about taking her to work once again.Thank you for saving Mary Jane, the machine! Someday in heaven you can sit with Mary Jane the quilter and give her your stories of wonderful quilts made on her machine. Regards,Carolyn Barnett

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  69. Dear Bonnie, What a great story. Sniff. Reminds me of one my brother, who collects and uses old letter press printing machines told about on his blog.
    http://www.drewpress.blogspot.com/2011/11/heddys-story.html
    When people ask me how many machines I have I just tell them I stopped counting (at 32). Heh.

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  70. Mary Berg11:58 AM EDT

    Bonnie,
    Our annual fund raiser for our private school is coming up. It is also impolite to ask a quilter why she bought a quilt as she could make her own. Such a silly question. I buy them because I love them and know how much work went into them, also because I can! I also donate a quilt and sometimes matching pillow shams to this fund raiser....

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  71. You need to write down the history, and keep it with the machine. Only machine I have history on are my mom' sand grandmother's machine. Will you keep the machine? Hope so. Wouldn't want it to leave it's table

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  72. It brought a tear to my eye, thinking of all the years of sewing and quilting projects that Mary Jane gave to others using that machine. It's so nice to hear a person's (and a machine's)history, and know that it is being passed down to generations. Here's to you, Mary Jane!

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  73. Eaft asaratiI would love a featherweight table, but would also love a room for my machines. Is it "addiction" when you have so many machines or is it the "reaching out" to touch the past? I don't know which, but I never turn down a sewing machine. I have however, given several away to help out a widow or to help a young mother get started.It makes me feel good!

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  74. Love your gentle reminder - we say that often -"its not polite to ask a rancher how many acres he owns" - Glad you will treasure your new machine!

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  75. Thank you for the story Bonnie. I wish I had enough room for such a lovely machine. Congratulation!

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  76. thank you Bonnie, I too have been looking for a featherweight from 1950, the year I was born. you lucky duck
    ;o)

    aka kingcooper0001@aol.com

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  77. I found a 301 with a card table at the Covered Bridge Festival in Indiana a few years ago. It was priced at $125 and I was SO tempted… But I already had a 301 and didn't "need" another machine. I walked away from it (I KNOW, I KNOW!!!) I kicked myself over and over for not getting it.
    The next year we went back to the festival, to the same location - the 301 was there AGAIN, with the table. SOLD!!! I love my vintage machines!
    I won't ask how many you have if you don't ask me :)

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  78. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  79. Bonnie, That's a great find. I've looked for years for a 1946, the year I was born. I go to estate sales, read craigslist, everything. I really hope to find one soon. Enjoy. Sharon Lozano slozano5@earthlink.net

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  80. What a nice story behind your new toy!!! Mary Jane and her table will be very happy in their new home with you as their caretaker!! :)

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  81. Gift???? You mean it was free??? No not my business. Those aren't rare where I live (central NY) but getting it for free would certainly be something to write about. Mine was $20 at a garage sale :-)

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  82. A very beautiful story. Nicely told.

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  83. It's so corny, but this brought tears to my eyes! I'm so happy for you and Mary Jane!

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  84. I was so thrilled when I received a call from my father's only sister asking if I wanted her 1950 FW that she bought when she was first married! Aunt Ruth turns 90 this October and her FW turns 64 and they are both doing great!

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