July 15, 2022
Hello my readers,
Don’t fall over. This is my first emailed newletter from Babs Emodi author in a long, long time.
But before we get to that wanted to share with you why I decided to write stories.
This is how it is. I have been around for a while and have collected many stories, human and humorous in my head. I really wanted a place to put them.
The main character in my series is Valerie Rankin and she teaches sewing classes in the family general store in Gasper’s Cove Nova Scotia, and later helps her community set up a crafter’s co-op.
Sewing classes have been a big part of my life, both as a teacher and before that as a student.
Let me tell you a story.
I am the oldest of four girls and grew up in a small town. When I was still in single digits my mother had my youngest sister, who is deaf. At that time, and in that place there were not many resources for helping deaf children (incredibly I can remember my grandmother suggesting she would be happier in an institution “with her own”. Aren’t we all glad we are no longer living in the good old days?)
Anyway, my mother somehow found out that the actor Spencer Tracey had a deaf son and had set up a foundation to send out mail order type lessons to teach small deaf children. My mother became obsessed with this program and our home was quickly blanketed with snap cards. (My sister by the way turned out brilliantly).
In the middle of all of this I was a bit of a nuisance. I had been given a hand powered metal sewing machine by a Czeck woman who lived across the street. This changed my world as I was always up to some scheme, as I still am to be honest. One of my enterprises was to run a doll clothes factory out of the garage. There I forced various small children to be my cutters and I stitched up my collections, which were then sold to whiny kids, some of whom were my cutters, (I hope I gave them a discount, I can’t remember) who went home begging for 5 cents or 10 cents to buy my clothes.
As I remember I was doing a roaring business until the mothers on my street banded together and decided to shut me down. I was in fact summoned to a meeting with the mother union. I distinctly remember riding my bike down to one house and knowing that I was going to get a good talking to when I got there.
Back at home, sitting on the grey rug in the living room with a hyper toddler surrounded by educational materials from Hollywood, my mother snapped. She decided I needed to be sent off to a summer program of some kind to keep me out of her hair and to shut down the phone calls from her neighbours. The problem, of course, was that in ancient times summer programs for kids had not been invented. So, in desperation she signed me up for adult sewing lessons at the Singer Sewing School in the musty basement of the Singer dealership downtown.
And so, it all started. From that basement to Gasper’s Cove and Valerie Rankin. One straight line.
I completely loved every minute of learning to sew. The teacher was the most elegant woman I had ever seen, no housedress, just a light purple linen shift dress with beautiful, perfect, hand-running stitches accentuating every one of her princess seams.
I am happy to say that the curriculum was not adjusted at all to accommodate me. There in that basement, taught by a bouffant Jackie Kennedy look-alike, I learned to make tailor tacks and bound buttonholes. By the end of the summer I had made my own ten-year-old self a fully lined pink wool suit, and learned the first rule of wardrobe planning, sew what fits your lifestyle or you’ll never wear it.
Even more interesting to me than construction techniques was the conversation in that class and the first glimpse it provided to me of the stories women have to tell when they are given a chance.
There you have it, why I am writing.
And I think I’ll just tell little stories in these author newsletters. What do you think?
You probably noticed that my novels are murder mysteries too. Why not? There are a lot of mysteries in this life and people reveal who they really are under pressure.
Which reminds me.
Did I ever tell you about the body they found in the professor’s office when I was in university?
Thanks for reading, so much appreciated.
3 thoughts on “July newsletter”
This is a fun read, thank you. I bet we all have a story about how we started sewing. In my case it was when I was supposed to be revising for my exams: the machine would have been heard by my parents downstairs so I hand stitched a whole pair of pyjamas. I wish I’d kept them!
I’m just a little bit into your book (screen time limited at the moment) and enjoying it tremendously! So many neatly drawn characters! Wondering if there will be a map of the area included (I love books with maps).
Brilliant idea! Thanks so much Ceci! I can see the whole place in my head but what’s the point of that. Definitely going to do this. Thanks so much and glad you are enjoying the book. Well into writing the next one, really enjoying this.