Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Every Marguerite should have a Marguerite!

Laura asked me to share this story, and it's a fun one.

Everyone knows that once Elias Howe introduced the sewing machine, and Singer introduced marketing, it quickly became a necessity. There were as many brand names and models of sewing machines as there are cars today. Many left the market place at the time of the Depression . . . except every quilt maker's favorite, the Featherweight, which was actually introduced at the height of the Depression at the Chicago World's Fair . . . but I digress.

Our friend, Marguerite happened upon a table made from a treadle sewing machine base, the brand name of which was Marguerite. She was a student, without any expendable funds, so taking it home wasn't a possibility. Over the years, she always looked for another, but never saw one. Knowing that flea markets, auctions, and antique shops are an irresistable draw to DH and me, she told us about her quest. We made it a habit from that point to look at any vintage sewing machine, just in case.

We saw many old machines, but never a Marguerite, until one Labor Day weekend in Rossville, Illinois. We were in an antique shop that we had visited many times before. I saw a machine cabinet stacked with things on top, and a flower basket on the treadle. I wandered over and bent to read the name on the front of the wooden top. Of course, you know, it was Marguerite, both ironwork and woodwork in beautiful condition. I was speechless, and I grabbed at DH's arm, stabbing the air frantically, pointing in the general direction of the machine. He gave me the usual husband answer . . . a short tempered, "WHAAAT?" We moved the stuff off the machine to look it over more carefully. The iron work had the name Marguerite cast in both the ends, and the foot treadle. DH set off to negotiate, and shortly, returned with two high school boys to cart the treasure. The vehicle we were driving that day was a full-sized conversion van, and the boys heaved the machine in the side doors, and we were off for home.

As we were driving, DH suggested we phone Marguerite's. I said I didn't want to . . . that I would be tempted to blurt out the surprise. We got to our house, and found a message from Marguerite with a quilting question. She closed with the comment that they would be home all evening. I was so excited. I told DH, let's just go out there. So, off we went.

They were a little surprised to see us, without notice, but very cordial, as usual. We chatted briefly, and then said, "Come see what we bought . . . it's in the van". In our own little "Price is Right"-style presentation, I opened one side of the twin doors, and DH opened the other. There sat the machine, with one side of the iron-cast Marguerite in clear view. Our Marguerite had a similar reaction to my initial discovery in the antique shop . . . she couldn't speak, but just started jumping up and down, clapping and laughing. Somehow, we got it out of the van, and into her home, where it has an honored position just to the left inside the front door.

I love it when I find something that another will enjoy (and won't be offended by the fact that it is old or used). Our friend, Marty, is an avid golfer. One summer Saturday several years ago, I found a golf-bag shaped planter (in green, her favorite color) at an auction. I made the opening bid, which went unopposed. Every spring, when her garden begins to bloom, Marty announces what fresh-cut flowers she placed in the planter that day. A few weeks ago, she introduced me to one of her Florida friends, identifying me as the person who gave her the golf bag planter. It's nice to have a silly little friendship gift so well-received and enjoyed.

A few of the gals in our group are auction fans, too. That can be dangerous. Mary J. and I were at a sale and planned to bid on two identical relish plates, so each of us would have one. At some point, I went to the concession stand, and she wasn't in her seat. I started back to sit down and the relish plates came up for bids. I heard the opening bid of $1, and I bid $2 . . . only to discover that Mary had the opener, and I had just doubled our costs!

Last Saturday's treasures? Four boxes of tailor's chalk, with 36 pieces, in each . . . my husband brought that home to me, purchased for a mighty $1. Also, a 1930's era Turkey Tracks quilt with one torn area, but it will be easy to repair, and a vintage book of needles for my collection. (When I have to go to "The Home", my needle books and thimble collections should be small enough to go with me!)


dot said...

What a great story and dear friend. You gave her the most priceless gift. I love it.

anne bebbington said...

What a lucky girl she is to have a friend like you :o)

Laura said...

I just love this story and of course both you and Marguerite also!

Dawn said...

Linda, the written story is just as good as when you and Norm told it at dinner! And the turkey tracks quilt is wonderful!

Tonya R said...

Wow, I wanna go shopping with you.

Amy said...

I also have a Marguerite sewing machine, which I inherited from my grandmother upon her passing. It's in beautiful condition and have searched long and hard to find more information on the brand of machine, but have never found out much about the particular machine. Your story is touching!

WisePati said...

The Marguerite's were made by the Household Sewing Machine Company. They were only in business for about 30 years.