Saturday, February 25, 2012

"What does Joe do?"

I wanted to post this story that a friend emailed me after reading my blog post, "Sewing Machines". He asked to remain anonymous:

Kate,

I love your work on sewing machines. They are quite masculine to me, though. I don't know if I told you, but my dad is a tailor. His shop has 3 machines, including 1 blind stitch, that are like industrial revolution relics. He used to make custom suits for the neighborhood men.

The shop, and Dad, were like scenes from Guys and Dolls. When I was a kid I used to go in with him on Saturdays. There was a guy, Joe, who sat at the machine next to the phone. He would never sew, just answer the phone when it rang (often), and write things on a little pad. Since I was always slow on the uptake, it took me months to ask Dad, "What does Joe do?" "He takes messages," was the answer. It took me more years to realize that Dad was running a bookie operation, in addition to the custom suits. More characters came in and out of that shop than I could possibly remember.

So, thanks for spurring some funny memories at a time when Mom and Pop (98 and 92) are in their waning years. Pop is now starting to think about quitting the shop. An era will pass for me when he does.

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