Gramma's Needle

Written by Charles E. Page in the Year 2007

Ma likes to read stories to us kids. She sometimes writes little poems herself. Once she was a schoolteacher. She said I could write a story myself, about something I liked. She said to pretend I was telling somebody about it. She is helping me with words and spelling.

Here it is...........

We like to stay at Grampa and Gramma Jones's farm. They have cows, chickens and pigs. We have a week after Christmas before we have to go back to school.

In the evening after supper we all sit around the big dining room table. It feels snug and warm. The kerosene lamp is in the middle of the table and we can see to play cards or read or just talk or tell stories.

Uncle Seward pops popcorn on the kitchen stove. He brings in a big pan of it and sets it in the middle of the table.

It's cold here in the winter evenings after chores, and where Alyce and I sit at the table our backs are toward the chunk stove. They call it a chunk stove because it is big and you can put in a big chunk of wood. Big chunks last a long time.

Alyce and Aunt Beryle sit next to me. Aunt Beryle reads the National Geographic.

Uncle Seward sits on the other side- on the side where the buttery is. Some people call that room a pantry, but Gramma calls it the but'try. That's where she works the butter and puts it butter jars.

Grampa reads the paper in the kitchen and keeps the fire going in the kitchen stove.

Gramma never just sits there. She darns socks, mends other clothes and writes in her diary. She sits in the black rocking chair near the stove. There is a soft cushion in the chair. She tips her sewing up so the light from the lamp will shine on it. After she finishes the socks and anything else that needs mending, she writes in her diary about stuff that happened that day. She tells what the weather was like, what the men worked at, how many eggs the hens laid, and all kinds of things she heard the neighbors talking about on the phone. Sometimes she takes her diary book upstairs and finishes writing. I don't know why she does that.

I like to watch her darn the socks. She has a wooden thing shaped something like an egg with a handle on it. She puts it up inside the sock where the hole is. Then she sews threads back and forth across the hole until it is all covered up and then she goes crossways.

She says it isn't thread, it's darning cotton. I like to watch the way she goes over and under the threads (I mean, darning cotton) with her needle. She can do it real fast. And when she gets done you can hardly see where the hole was. She darns the socks so they will not have to buy new ones. Socks are expensive.

I asked her why they call it "darning". Uncle Seward said it was because she hollered "darn" so loud when she pricked her finger. Everybody laughed.

She is very careful with her needles. They are expensive too. She has different sizes to use for different things. The needle for darning socks has a bigger hole because darning cotton is thicker than ordinary thread. She says the hole in the needle is called an eye. I wonder why it is called that. Gramma doesn't know either.

When she gets done using her needles she sticks them in a pincushion so they won't get lost. Needles are expensive, too. One day she bought some new ones at Bicknell's store. She didn't pay any money for them. She gave them some eggs. If you have eggs, you don't have to have money.

Author's Note, more than eight decades later (year 2007):

In the process of photocopying my Gramma Jones's diaries, I opened one of the diary books dated 1908. A century-old needle fell out. It had been pressed down into the crack near the binding, and is reddish brown with rust. It is one of Gramma's needles!

I will clean it up as well as I can, and stick it in a pincushion. Needles are expensive, .....and I don't have any eggs.

Charles E. Page

Oneida, N.Y. October 2007

Gramma's needle

"Gramma Jones's Needle lies beside a pin cushion"

Charles E. Page July 2007