Mom’s old ELNA sewing machine



Mom always had this sewing machine as far back as I can remember. I was scared of its needle when I was small, and the case was too heavy for me to lift. It uses a Cessna airplane engine and is capable of sewing layers of sheet copper. Ok, that might have been a bit of an exaggeration, but this thing was ridiculously strong, and could go through more denim than anything else ever could! Sewing was never something I could do. It wasn’t a skill boys were encouraged to take up. Later on, I realized it wasn’t a skill ANYONE was still taking up, which only strengthened my want to learn! My older sister took home economics, and it was understood that it was a class that would teach sewing, but I remember mom complaining bitterly about the education my sister received. “They only taught her one lousy whip stitch,” I remember hearing her say. I’m not sure what that means, but I don’t think is was adequate.

The machine had been in the back of mom’s closet for years. But I never stopped thinking about it. It wasn’t getting any older. It was made in the era of technology that was built to last! Heirloom quality. Hopefully, it would last generations and still maintain its usefulness.

A few years before mom died, I had asked her about it. She made it a gift to me and said she would start teaching me to use it when she came back from Houston. But she never got the chance to do that. So now it’s sitting on the back of my closet. I pulled it out and set it up and plugged it in. It still works perfectly! Even this ancient light bulb. I’m going to have a hard time getting that thing replaced if it ever does go out. For all I know, it’s an Edison Mk II or something like that. I found the instruction booklet. Its pages are stuck together and brittle from having been wet, but I got most of them apart. At some point, someone seems to have tested out a hole puncher all around the edges of the booklet. I am able to read nearly everything. And yet, without someone to guide me, the booklet isn’t much use. I need a real person to teach me, even it’s only video. That’s the way I learn hand skills.

Something awful happened tonight. At least I feel awful about it. While I was putting the machine back in its case, a task which I have accomplished many times before without incident, I left the power cord sticking out and the metal case cut through it like a pair of scissors. Every part of this survived in tact for all those decades, and I did this to it in one clumsy minute. I shouldn’t have even had it out. Now I have a repair to make before I can try it again.

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