Saturday, 13 September 2014

Ode to Singer

While the starch is drying out on the back for Oga quilt, I can finally tell the story I promised to tell long ago, about my oldest and most loved Singer (model 16K , serial number J1652230).

My grand granparents, 1906
When my grand grand mother Ann Beitan married Theodor Ozolin in 1906, they got a posh and useful wedding present from Ann’s mother Trine Beitan – this sewing machine.

The life was full of promises for them. Ann was a daughter of a wealthy farmers and Theodor – a teacher and an aspiring scientist.

My grandomother, 1908
But these were troubled times around – the waves of the Revolution of 1905 hadn’t settled jet and many were arrested, including Theodor, leaving pregnant Ann alone.  Theodor never returned. In prison he cought TB and died soon after their little daughter Zenta was born in December 1907. 

Ann never re-married. She returned back to farm and raised her daughter, sewing one fancy dress after another for her little orphaned princess.
When the First World War started, Ann had no illusions – her darling sewing machine was in danger as Russian army was well known for looting, so still new and shiny, Singer was wrapped in endless layers of oil cloth, packed in an old butter box and drowned in the pond, while empty wooden box was left open in the attick. 

Ann’s decission was wise as farm happened to stand right on the way of Russian and German armies the whole war. If my granny counted right, different armies walked in and out of their farm 17 times during the WWI. 

My grandomother, 1930
When all settled, the sewing machine emerged from the depths of the pond, but a lot of shine has gone, and rust had cut its teeth in. But it still worked, and was perfect to provide my grandma with fashionable outfits for her college years while she studied accountancy and farm management.
My mum 1937
When my grandma married, she took sewing machine with her, and produced many fancy outfits for her little precios princess (my mum). Sadly, her marriage also didn’t lasted long, but that’s another story (WWII, you know). My grandma spent hours on this sewing machine right until 1987, when she died, and my mum took over. 

Now this sewing machine belongs to my youngest daughter who is learning to sew on it right now.  


  1. The story is so sad, but the pictures are priceless. How amazing.

  2. Ann, the history behind the photos and your priceless sewing machine is so tragic and also stirring. I feel like the sewing machine is a symbol of how women persevere through the worst of time and still create beauty. I am so glad you shared this story and the wonderful photos!

  3. You are lucky twice - once to have a beautiful old machine, and once to know its story, and to have something that, as Lara said, represents so much of the history of the women in your family. Thanks for sharing with us.

  4. Where was your family? My Dad's family has similar stories but from a small, rural town in Hungary during World War II. Susan

  5. What a heart wrenching story. I'm so glad you still have the machine.