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Treadle Finger

Kathy Dingus


In the corner it stood, whispering my name over and over again. I would glance over at it and then look away quickly, afraid that my temptation would get the best of me. I loved it, had just learned how to use it and wanted to spend all of my free time sitting at it, using all of my new found creative talent. My Aunt Irene had just taught me how to operate it, had fully stocked me with all of the supplies I needed and oh how I loved it.

She was an expert, and I couldn’t have learned how to operate the old fashioned treadle sewing machine from a more experienced person. She cut out patterns for my Barbie Doll clothes and gave me all of her scrap material. I had found that I could actually sew and loved it.

But, as luck would have it, Mom had told me to never go near my beloved sewing machine when she wasn’t in the house, and that day she was at the neighbors’ house running an errand.

I decided that Mom didn’t tell me I couldn’t cut out doll clothes while she was gone so I got out my basket full of scraps and my patterns and merrily went to work cutting out doll clothes for my Barbie. I had several outfits cut out and Mom still wasn’t home. I once again glanced over at that treadle machine…yep…it was still calling my name. The temptation was too great, and after all my aunt had taught me how to use it and I had made several outfits already. I decided that I would go ahead and set it up and have it ready to go by the time Mom got home.

My brother Jay looked at me like I was crazy and told me that I was gonna get into trouble when Mom got back, but me being the older child, gave him “that look” and he promptly shut up.

I opened the lid, and threaded the bobbin and was ready to begin. I ran over to the window, looked left and right and still no Mom. What was keeping her? She was just over at the neighbors talking and deliberately keeping me from sewing…I just knew it.

Well, maybe I could get one outfit finished before she got home, and she would never know that I had gone against her orders not to sew while she was gone. Yeah…that’s what I would do.

So I promptly dragged my bench over to my machine and started to sew. I was in sewing heaven. I had one outfit almost made, and decided that I would start on another one. Every now and then I would run over to the window and look for Mom…it was a good little distance and surely I would see her coming in time to close up shop before she reached the house.

I began the second outfit, smiling to myself. Everything was working out according to plan, when suddenly disaster struck. I really wasn’t paying attention to sewing because I was too afraid of being caught, when I really did get caught.

I sewed my finger! My middle finger was caught in the needle, pierced through. I yelled for my brother Jay to come and help me. It really didn’t hurt; my finger was quite numb until my brother came into the room, saw my finger stuck in the needle and began to yank on it. My finger was caught securely and wouldn’t budge an inch. There was no room to slide it off because of the pressure foot. I began to realize that I was in trouble.

Jay ran for Mom, me begging him not to, but you know how little brothers are. He didn’t listen. (I didn’t think about me not listening to Mom) It didn’t take but about 5 minutes until he came back with Mom in tow. She was really concerned and didn’t seem too mad about me using the machine while she was gone. She got a screw driver and unscrewed the pressure foot from the machine and slid my finger off the needle.

Whew! I thought I was okay, until Mom told me that I might get tetanus and my finger would have to be cleaned with alcohol. Right away my finger started to throb. I told her that the needle wasn’t really that dirty and it would be ok. She didn’t listen to me; she calmly went into the medicine cabinet and came back with the alcohol bottle. She poured some alcohol into a glass and made me hold my finger in it. What torture!

I started crying and begging her to let me take it out and she did after a minute, and then lectured me for thirty minutes on listening to her and how grown-ups told us what to do and what not to do for our own good. I was grounded from my precious treadle machine for a week.

I got off easy I guess, and I did learn a valuable lesson. When I am not minding Mom, try not to get caught nor my finger either!