Tuesday, May 18, 2010


The first house my wife and I bought, thirty-odd years ago in Baton Rouge, belonged to an old lady who'd recently passed away. When her family was showing the place, it still had her furniture in it.

Among those items of furniture were two things after which we lusted: An Underwood manual upright typewriter, probably from the 1930's; and a Singer treadle-sewing machine, circa the early 1920's. This latter was run by foot-power, pumping the treadle plate in order to sew.

The real estate agent suggested that we include those two pieces in our offer -- maybe the family didn't care about them -- so we did.

We got the house -- and they threw in the typewriter and sewing machine.

The sewing machine and its cabinet were in poor repair, and eventually we passed them along to somebody, but kept the heavy, wrought-iron treadle base. We painted it a couple times and had various tops on it -- glass for a time, then wood -- and for the last few years, it served as a table out back for hot tub supplies.

Saturday, while my wife was working in the front garden, she decided she need a new plant stand by the front door. So we hied ourselves to the rock store off 217, and found a 40-pound slab of ragged-edge stone, quarried somewhere near Mt. St. Helens, and brought that home to sit atop the old treadle base. My wife plans to paint the base a dark chocolate, and to get a big cascading plant to sit upon it.

Makes a pretty good plant stand for twelve bucks, which is what the stone cost.


Anonymous said...

The new phrase is "re-purposed", but whatever it is, Steve, I think it's lovely! Pam

J.D. Ray said...

Nicely done. I'm all for reduce-reuse-recycle.

I learned to sew on a treadle machine, and learned to type on a manual. That might not seem surprising to many, until you realize I'm in my early forties. Electric versions of both were commonplace in the seventies when I was a kid. But my grandmother, who took care of me, had manual versions, and that's what I learned on. In this day and age, I'm happy to have had the experience.

Oh, and when I was in high school, I learned typesetting with lead type in braces, and a hand-pull press. Nifty stuff for a mecha-geek kid like me.