All posts by Jerome Chapman

Sewing Machines

Sewing Machines

Do you remember sewing machines? Ever used one? Did they have them in your house growing up? In just about all the homes I went in as a kid down in Sandy Point you would find many common items; stoves, fireplaces, porches, wells, a home remedy stock pile, a family Bible, a steamer trunk, shotgun, and a box for stove wood and one for kindling. The list goes on and on. Most homes also had, set up in some prominent place, a sewing machine. If I went around my neighborhood today I doubt I would find a single one. I still see them in Walmart and Sears so I know some people still buy them and, of course, use them.

Both my grandmothers had them and used them. They were in an easy to get to spot where emergency sewing could take place. For example, it’s Sunday morning and Dad just ripped out the seam in the seat of his only Sunday suit! Now, that was an emergency!

The Singer treadle powered sewing machines were used most often to make repairs, let out or shorten hems, make new pants cuffs and sewing on patches. Of course, there was the occasional new garment made with a bolt of cloth and a pattern that was purchased from a dry goods store, Sears, or some other mail order catalog. Curtains, if the house had curtains, were often made on the sewing machine. And the seat of a lot of pants got resewn, too.

Wikipedia says the first working sewing machine was likely made by a man named Thomas Saint in 1790! A replica of that machine is shown in this picture from Wikipedia:

 

My guess is this baby took a lot of effort and was for some special purpose like leather making and may have been dangerous to your health! That big wheel with all the teeth on the side is a dead giveaway.

The first machines I remember, the Singers, looked just like this one below and they are seen in antique stores today. This machine was invented by the man credited with the first workable machines, Isaac Merritt Singer in the year 1850. The needle, thread, and thimbles could go on the shelf.

These were powered by the operator’s feet and when you started pedaling the machine could go forward of backward so the operator would give the wheel on the right hand side a little hand assistance to start it in the right direction. Quite honestly, I never figured out how the things worked! But, work they did. And Singer sewing machines became a house hold staple!

Families recycled clothes within the families back then since the families had a lot of kids in many cases. More kids than they had money and extra clothes. Nothing went to Goodwill: Little sister got big sister’s dress that she outgrew and little bother got big brother’s overalls. They got them; patches and all. If mother or grandmother was a good seamstress, there would be a new dress in the works on the sewing machine that was done between all the other things she had to do. Sometimes, in the less affluent families, the dress cloth looked very familiar: maybe a lot like the recent cloth flour sacks. So did underwear, dish towels, and other cloth items. I was an only child and there were no boys of my size in the immediate family so I got no hand-me-downs.

My mother was a very good seamstress and and spent her whole working life in the garment industry. She could see a pattern for sale in the newspaper and cut the picture out and go about making the item just by looking at it. Somewhere in some storage boxes are three denim jackets made out of patchwork material that she made for our three sons. My sons look at them and laugh now but they thought they were neat back in the day.

When we finally had to get my mother into assisted living and closed out her house, the only thing she made me promise to keep was her very nice sewing machine. My mother lasted almost a year in the facility. I kept the sewing machine for two years after her death and finally, reluctantly, took it to Goodwill. I truly hope someone is using it!

Back in elementary and high school they had Home Economics classes. Home Ec for short. They were for the girls who were expected to be able to cook, keep house and sew! Try and sell that today! That’s right, to meet the stereotyped image of women at the time the girls were taught to sew. They had wood shop for the boys in many schools and a lot of boys took advantage of that training. It got them out of Social Studies or Geometry.

Today, we buy new, throw the old away or, sometimes, give the garments to a place that helps the disadvantaged. It is hard to get little sister to wear big sister’s stuff except when it serves to make big sister mad! Don’t refer to it as a hand-me-down!

Electricity came along and the sewing machine started having motors, then, somewhere in the 60’s the Japanese took over the sewing machine industry. They now had become nice precision instruments for making all sorts of items for the home.

Yes, for most of us that era has passed but it might surprise you that the Singer Company sold three million machines in 2015! Up from one and a half million in 2012! People use them as a means of expressing themselves much the same way an artist paints a picture. Making ones own wedding dress is one example. Who knows? Maybe what goes around comes around?

But isn’t it amazing as to how many things the ladies of the past could do to make life better for their families. They wore many hats and got little credit. Sewing was just one of those things.

JC © 2017

2 X Kinda Day

 

2X Kinda Day

 Something I never did in Sandy Point was fly fish. I did have a rod and reel that I guess may have come from Western Auto and it had a braided line that always seemed to be fouled up. I had never heard of 2X Tippets and Leaders. I Knew nothing about a fly rod or lines. More fish were caught with a cane pole, a cork bobber, and some night crawlers or crickets. You would see several members of a family headed to a pond, lake, creek or river with the long cane poles sticking out of pickup truck or tied to the top of the car and they would spend an afternoon fishing.

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There were no Yeti Coolers and sometimes only a jug of water that was put in the water in the shade to keep from getting too hot. Bait was dug up out back near the chicken coop or cow pen and put in an old coffee can. Bait and tackle shops were for the rich people.

There was no “catch and release”. It was all catch, cook and eat. Sometimes the smallest fish was kept.

Most of the places that people now take for granted did not exist back in that time. Lake Tobesofkee near Macon was not around until about 1967. Lake Sinclair near Milledgeville was created in 1953. Lake Sinclair was where I rode in my first power boat as far as I can remember. Lake Lanier was still filling up when I moved to Gainesville in 1963. We had a small farm pond built in about 1954 on some farm program and we stocked it with fish. Mostly bream. The springs that fed that small pond have long since dried up and so has the pond.

My dad did not fish and neither did either of my grandparents. They were more gun people. I really got into fly fishing about 30 years ago.

“Let’s see if we can find a place to go fishing, Dad.” That was a call I received from my son who lives in Alabama. “I have a few days off and we will come and spend some time there. Maybe you, I, and Garrison can get into some big trout somewhere.”

Now, of course, that sounded like a good idea except that we were now into the hot weather months and the outfitter run fishing spots were shutting down for the summer. It seems that warm water and the stress of being caught, handled and released can greatly increase the mortality of the trout. So, to protect the fish these places started shutting down during the hot (and low) water months. Restrictions are in place in many parts of the country now to curtail, eliminate or otherwise reduce the fishing pressure for the same reason. Montana has something called the Hoot Owl Restrictions.

Calling around, I found a couple of places that were still open but they were getting close to shutting down and I was able to find one place that could take us for a day trip on a day that worked for us. Expensive is the best way I can describe these places but it is not something you do every day.

There were about 10 fishermen there when we arrived and most were using the guide services. We chose to not use a guide although it is usually a very good idea when fishing a water for the first time. More money, of course, but that can often keep from throwing away a lot of rod fee money with no results at the end of the day. But, we were feeling somewhat confident.

I asked the lady when we checked in to advise us on what flies had been working and she did. I also asked what weight leaders and tippets she recommended. “With the water being stained a little today, I would suggest 2X,” she said.

Every sport and fishing activity has its own vernacular and equipment. Fly fishing, long steeped in mystique has plenty, too. Fly lines get stronger and heavier and bigger as the number goes up. A 2 weight fly line would be small and generally used for small fish. That would normally be teamed up with a 2 weight rod. A heavier, stronger, 5 weight line is a common fly line size in this area and would be matched with a 5 weight rod. A person bone fishing might use an 8 weight and for tarpon, a 12 or 14.  That relationship between rod and fly line is a discussion all to its self.

But, for some reason, the leaders and tippets that are used on the end of the fly line use a reverse designation system. Maybe this was done to add to the fly fishing mystique that I mentioned. When fishing for small and spooky fish one might use a 6X leader and tippet on a 3, 4, or 5 weight line and rod setup. Here, the bigger the number the smaller the leader and tippet thickness and subsequent strength. So, when the lady said a 2X leader and tippet would be her suggestion that implies you will be hooking big fish and 2X leaders and tippets are not in use on many of the area waters. They are not required, in most cases, on local waters. Usually for me, a 3X is about as big as is needed around here so I was rigged with 3X and sometimes 4X Tippet on a 9 foot 6 weight rod. I asked for, but did not necessarily adhere to, advice for the local water. Hardheaded, maybe?

The morning was very slow for us. We were wading and to say we had to get our feet wet in the new river before we started catching anything sounds cute so that’s what I’ll say.

I think my son caught one fish and it was close to 30 inches! Trout fishermen will recognize that as a pretty darn good trout. A bass fisherman would like that size too.

He has a carved replica of one close to 36 inches that he caught in The Little Red in Arkansas. I caught nothing in the morning and had only one hit.

At lunch, it was clear that it was a slow day for everyone as the guide that had shown us to our fishing spot had said, “It’s pretty slow today.”  An official opinion, you might say.

That afternoon, we started catching some fish, however. We kept changing flies and set ups until we hit on using a big stimulator dry fly with a dropper. The fish were hitting both the big dry and the small black quill nymph fly I was fishing weighted and submerged. It was beginning to be a good day.

Late that afternoon, I found a large run that emptied into a large pool. After a few casts, I started casting out and skipping the big stimulator back to me across the water. This proved to be both successful and frustrating since I caught several really nice fish but also had a number spit out the stimulator which was a very large fly with a small hook.

In the fast water of the seam, a large number of huge fish were hanging out and when one hit the big fly there was one giant fish that would leap out of the water behind the striking fish followed by two or three more each time. An incredible sight and a fish of gigantic proportions that I never hooked.

Before the day was out, the three of us had a very good day although the guide, who had been fishing in the same area  with his three first time fly fishermen, was a little down because they had not had a good afternoon. We did not let on how well we had done. Nothing gained by doing that.

We decided a couple of days later to take another crack at the river and I think we were the last ones there until the fall as they were closing it down. We were the only people there. This time we started out rigged up the same way we had finished two days earlier and the fish were not at all interested.

The place we entered the river was a large, slow pool full of fish. Lots of big fish and the saying about shooting fish in a barrel comes to mind. But they would watch the fly drift toward them, move slightly to let it pass and then move easily back into their spot. We wasted a lot of time on these fish with no results.

After experimenting with a variety of droppers from A to Z, I broke out the heavy artillery: one number 6 black bead head Woolly Bugger and one olive one and tied the olive behind the black. When fished on a long leader, these flies can get right down on the bottom in fast water were the fish are holding. With a little luck, they can be a serious weapon in fly fishing.

My first cast resulted in a big strike and I landed a very nice fat rainbow. And they hit it for the rest of the day; mostly the olive but once in a while the black. Some hit with such ferocity that they ripped off both flies on several occasions because I had just stayed with the 3X. Why had I bothered to ask for advice, anyway? The 3X would handle the normal big 20 inchers but when the really big ones hit with all their might, it was bye bye leader, tippet and flies. That happened about four times. And, of course, there were some down stream releases and one really mean trout that took my line over behind this sharp rock and cut my line. I wonder if he had done that before.

So this was not a place for the faint hearted and it was not a place for the idealist that will only fish dry flies; not this day. It was a place to listen to the advice of the person who ran it. This was a 2X day and a 2X place. And I was glad I came! Next time, if there is a next time, I’ll be using 2X!

 

JC©2017

 

 

The Front Porch

The Front Porch

I started thinking about front porches. Yep, not something that is a conversation topic at dinner every night, but growing up in the South a lot of us older people can remember when the front porch, and in some cases the back porch, was an important and useful part of the house. The front porch today is an architectural component, like a dormer, but with little utilitarian usage for many.
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Pocket Knife

Pocket Knife

A few days back I bought a new Lew’s bait caster reel and on the box was a special bonus offer: a free new Buck Knife. Never one to turn down anything free, I set about getting the free knife ordered. When it arrived, it made me think about the good ole days at Sandy Point where just about every male carried a pocket knife. Today, I don’t suppose they could go on school grounds with a pocket knife without being arrested and you can’t get through security at the airport with one. I don’t know anyone today that carries a pocket knife but then maybe more do than I would imagine.

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Greyhound and Trailways

Greyhound and Trailways

Greyhound is a registered trade mark of the Greyhound, Incorporated

Greyhound and Trailways are not exactly household words these days. I would bet that no one in my neighborhood, unless they were in the Army many years ago, has ever been on a Greyhound or a Trailways bus. Like many things that once were an important item or service in days past, the big interstate buses have been replaced in the lives of most of us. Cars, mostly, did that for the closer-by locations and airplanes took over the coast to coast and major destinations.

I would also bet that most people are not aware that there is a bus terminal in Marietta, Ga for Greyhound. I looked up a ticket from Marietta to Bozeman, Montana ( in case I want to go fishing ) and the trip is about 55 hours and 20 minutes and cost from about $234 up.
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Model A

Model A Ford

The first car I remember was a Model A Ford. It was not the first of the cars my mother and father owned when I was small but I don’t remember them. I think they had a 1936 model when they got married in 1940.
What is the first car you remember? That might require a considerable amount of thought for many of the younger folks. Many families today trade cars fairly frequently and have multiple units at one time. In this country, we went from parking the cars in the yard to single carports, dual carports and then on to double, triple, and now, in some cases, four and six car garages. Some wealthy families have a “stable” of vehicles and you just go eenie meenie miney moe.
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Yellow Pages

 

Yellow Pages


I can’t remember the first phone book I saw. I also don’t recall the first phone we got in Sandy Point, either. I don’t know when I first heard of yellow pages. I do know that there were no phones there when I was little and it would have been after electricity was brought in about 1946 +/-. Mr. Smith got a phone up on the main highway (US 80) and I think my grandparents used that phone on some occasions. I think they also used a phone at the courthouse. But no phone service was available on the back roads for a while.
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Irrelevance

Irrelevance
A Place None of Us Want To Be

Irrelevance is not a city, so far as I know. But it is a place in time. It is a condition. It is a “state of mind”.

Looking back at Sandy Point, I see in my memory’s eye that a lot of what was important back then is now deemed irrelevant. Take the old farm bell as an example. That ole bell was truly old and not some reproduction to fool antique buyers. Everybody was an antique buyer and user back in those days. Most didn’t even know it.
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Tate Publishing: Scoundrels at Work

Tate Publishing

Scoundrels at Work

 

Back in Sandy Point, back in the day, they used some words that are not in common usage today.  The old folks seldom used bad words and usually never in the presence of kids. One word that hangs in the back of my mind, though, is scoundrel. For my grandparents, on both sides, the word scoundrel had a special place.
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Hard Work

 

Life’s Hardest Jobs

 Back in Sandy Point there were a lot of hard jobs. The options for doing them were small. Fire wood had to be cut, animals fed, land plowed, crops planted and cultivated. Peas picked and shelled and canned. Yards were swept (yes, swept-there was no lawn grass). Dishes were washed and dried by hand and floors scrubbed on your hands and knees. Repairs to home and equipment usually were done without hiring someone. Big jobs usually involved volunteers.

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