My grandmother grew up on a farm in the early 1900s, the youngest of five children. Though farms – particularly at that time – were known for requiring an abundance of hard physical labor, apparently my grandmother was not called on often in that regard.
I wish I’d talked with my grandmother about her growing up years. The few details I have were passed along by my mother who hadn’t spent much more time digging for details than I did.
After she completed 8th grade in country school, “they sent her to sewing school in town.” That’s what my mother said. I always took that statement at face value, imaging my grandmother in a room with many other young women, head bent over a sewing machine. I thought this, until I began digging into history of that time for my novel.
As it turns out, the town where Grandma was said to have gone to ‘sewing school’ didn’t have sewing schools, per se. Rather there were many seamstresses who took on as apprentices young women of good social status who hoped to meet young men of good character. This would happen because the seamstresses were invited to the house parties hosted by their clients. The young apprentice seamstresses went along, there to meet the right young men.
I find the images of seamstresses and house parties and young women of the right social status meeting young men of good character far more interesting than a sewing school. My mind runs wild with the possibilities. I’m writing fiction, but starting with a few good facts makes it all the more fun.