I was recently at a get together where there were guests of all ages in attendance. We were engaged in a lively discussion about the latest techniques for sewing a baby quilt and I was trying to remember the name of a particular tool I’ve used. Needless to say, I was stumbling around for the correct word.
I said, ‘You know what it’s called. Help me out. It’s um a …thingamajig…you know..’
And so it began…
“Oh, I know what you’re talking about. You mean a whatchamacallit?”
“No, she wants a thingamajiggery”
“Or do you mean a thingamabob?”
“We call those a thingerdoodle.”
“You’re all making it too difficult. Just call it a whatsit.”
“A thingermabobble is what my mom always called it.”
“Maybe a doodad?”
“You mean a oojamaflip?”
Wait – hold on a minute.
Now not only couldn’t I remember the original word I’d been searching for, now I had a second one to worry about. What the heck was a oojamaflip?
I was just trying to remember the name for an Interchangeable Dual Feed sewing machine foot. How did we get so far off track? And who knew there were so many substitute words for thingamajig. By the time I remembered the name I was originally searching for, it no longer seemed important. I was plagued with a new need-to-know word. What did oojamaflip mean and was it the same as thingamajig?
I never did get to talk about this incredible sewing tool as everyone was caught up in their stories of why they use the term they used. In the meantime, I grabbed my phone and typed in oojamaflip. Apparently it’s slang for a thing whose name is temporarily forgotten and used more in Britain than the U.S. It can also be spelled whojamaflip or hoojamaflip.
Next time I forget the name of something I’m going to need to remember to say oojamaflip…that is if I can remember it.
I recently posted a picture on my Facebook site of a Simplicity sewing pattern from around the 1970’s. The banner on the top read, “ SHARE IF YOU REMEMBER WHEN MOM WOULD MAKE YOUR CLOTHES.”
Boy, did it stir some special memories of a different time and place. In one short afternoon, hundreds liked it and over the days that followed many more liked, shared and commented. The comments keep coming. It’s probably one of the most active posts I’ve ever had and I’m guessing that many of the comments came from men and women in their 50’s and 60’s.
Some remembered their mothers (or grandmothers) sewing them everything from pajamas to school uniforms to prom dresses. A few bragged that their moms made clothing for their Barbie, Ken and even GI Joe dolls. Some struggled through Home EC classes themselves and shared tales filled with evil task masters and measuring tape miracle workers. It was not uncommon to hear about failed sewing projects that made their way home only to be resuscitated by mom. A few said that they themselves now successfully sewed for their kids or that they had friends who had become master seamstresses.
There were some lovely, often humorous, memories shared and it really got me to thinking.
I have four real passions in my life: Family, Writing, Reading and of course, Sewing. And as I was thinking about it, I realized that each of these passions grew from time spent with my mother. To mom, family was everything and she raised us to always remember that. She was an avid reader, a poet and a phenomenal seamstress. And through her example, she ingrained a love for each of these things in me. Those are such wonderful memories to have.
My own kids have grown up watching me living a life centered around my family, always working on a sewing project, with a book close in hand. Recently they watched me as I’ve thrown my hat into the writers’ ring.
So now I have to I wonder what tales they’ll tell when asked…”Do you remember when your mom would…”
Do you remember when your mom…or dad…would…? What would you say?
The other day my husband suggested that we go on an adventure together and a million intriguing possibilities raced through my head, until he added… to search for old wood. Not the kind of adventure I had longed for, I offered several good reasons why one of our sons might make a better travel partner before finally agreeing to go. My husband has been renovating his office and looking for some wood for shelves or flooring or something else to “funkify” the space.
Little did I know that this trip would not only net him the wood he was looking for, but also fill my head with dozens of potential future story lines and provide our son with a treasured gift.
Off we went to Vernon, California to discover what turned out to be one of the most fascinating places I’ve been in quite a while – Silverado Salvage & Design. This 16,000 square foot warehouse is just incredible and as I meandered throughout the cavernous structure, I was immediately sucked back in time. Surely this is a rich playground for the inventive mind of any storyteller.
Engulfed in tons of well-organized used wood, sewing machines from the early 1900’s and every kind of old farm tool you can imagine, I soon found a few rusted out machines that I never even knew existed. The farmers of those days must have been incredibly strong or had one sturdy horse at their disposal to be able to actually use this weighty equipment.
Old pieces of furniture, wine presses, doorknobs, windows and more were tucked into every corner of the building. A well-preserved, cloth-covered baby buggy rolled into the entrance and made me wonder what had ever happened to the infant it once lovingly carried. I envisioned a housewife of years gone by painstakingly stitching her children’s clothing on that old treadle driven sewing machine. Where did those aged and intricate iron gates once lead to? Was it a garden, a mansion, a government building? Whose fireplace had the intricately cut wooden corbels once graced and what juicy secrets had they been privy to? Were the children who had long ago played with rusty fire trucks and cars still alive or had their toys outlived them? There was so much to see, so much to feel, and a ton of things to capture the imagination.
Sometime during our walk about I came upon a collection of old wooden shipping crates and was overjoyed. Our youngest sons’ birthday was coming up and he had wanted one of these to use as a coffee table. Reinvigorating this chest would be a great project for father and son. I selected the wooden crate I wanted and asked the knowledgeable shop keeper where it was from originally.
“The metal tab on the front is written in Hungarian, I believe,” was his response.
What? I’m Hungarian. My grandfather immigrated here from Budapest, Hungary as a child. And inside I found an ancient packing slip written totally in Hungarian. This was meant to be – a connection to my family’s past. I would later take the packing slip home, translate it into English and laminate it to remain within the trunk forever. I discovered that the trunk had once carried gas masks which left me a little unsettled and wondering how I really felt about taking it home. Either way, the trunk would soon grace my son’s living room after its lengthy travel here; minus, of course, any gas masks.
This store hosts some of the most creative and imaginative employees ever. I overheard designers talking about how one might revitalize an old sink, a chunk of brass, a stained glass window. Creativity flows within this shop with knowledgeable staff I’d like to take home and just listen to. And a few had rather quirky names that I quickly added to my Little Book O’ Names I carry with me for future insertion into a story or two. I found it inspiring that the owner is such an affable, intelligent man who demonstrates a real passion for revitalizing what others might just throw away.
My husband found some very old wood which, I must confess, looked just like old wood to me. However, after talking with the trained craftsman it was clear that this wood had a lot more living to do. The two men put their heads together and a plan was quickly launched. This wood would soon be reincarnated into shelves and a desktop and my husband could not have been happier.
I now have three problems to confront. Where will I use the unusual names I collected, what story shall I write first and how are we ever going to get the heavy shelving and desktop upstairs and into my husband’s office. Three good problems to have!
If you get a chance, I encourage you to stop by Silverado Salvage & Design and be sure to bring your imagination with you! (4625 East 50th Street in Vernon, California)
The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. While I miss those enchanting moments with kids, I have always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I seek out my own magic and write about it. When I retired, I started to write my first books, a series called The Witches of New Moon Beach and inspiration wasn’t hard to find.
I have lived in Redondo Beach all my life, and New Moon might have more than a passing resemblance to my hometown. Every day I walk on the path that runs along the beach, sometimes with my sisters, but most often with my thoughts as I plot my next book.
I am long married and mom to three great grown kids. When I’m not writing or walking on the beach, you’ll find me sewing, reading or traveling and taking pictures.
Have you read about the witches of New Moon Beach?
Can help from a lavender-eyed sea witch, a few enchanted cupcakes and a touch of New Moon magic really rescue a once famous now washed up artist from himself?More info →
Four blind dates in five days. I can’t believe I agreed to this.More info →
While he’s haunting Miss Fenwick, Miss Fenwick haunts him.More info →
Can an arranged marriage lead to love?More info →