Wednesday, July 8, 2015
a glimpse: edna machemer, born 1922.
what edna machemer recalls of maidencreek township from working in an underwear factory which used to be in leesport, very close to where the next poetry reading for this project is this saturday, july 11 @ 2 p.m. at the schuylkill valley community library, brings the most bountiful and genuine laughs, of all of the poems from this project so far.
you'll find the humor trailing at the end of this excerpt from what she remembers into her early 90s. it's always nice to see that poetry can be comedic since not everyone expects that of it, and her talks of underwear lend to this beautifully. a single sentence of just eight words which she still shares again and again to make others around her smile involves of a female co-worker. it is classic to the extreme in berks county tongue.
for those who would like to attend the next poetry reading on saturday, the schuylkill valley community library's address is 1310 washington road, leesport, pa 19533, although a GPS will tell you to drive into a farm field. here are directions from the library staff on how to find the building successfully. if you can attend, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 610.401.3392.
graduating from high school in 1940, i started my job
at diener’s underwear mill in leesport within a week.
many single women worked there, using those wages
to support themselves and their children. the fabric
our fingertips grew to know lingered in bleach before
it met our grips. i started as a machine operator, but
soon, my title became trainer, matching my daily
routine for almost 40 years. piecework is torturous,
but i enjoyed training, especially when i had girls who
wanted to learn it. i taught them how to put the leg
band around the underwear. you didn’t have to dress
like a queen to go there, to work at those machines.
delicate lessons were a part of deciphering sections.
if you stretched it too much in a certain direction, it
would fall out of line. but some areas, they needed
pulling. see, you just had to know that—and where.
my sisters, ethel and ruth, they worked with me,
too. every now and then, we’d make a few orders
of long johns. a young woman from taiwan asked if
i’d teach her sister. she wanted her to move here. she
did, i showed her the ropes, and now, they’re my family.
but the best story i have is about my confirmation class
reunion at the lutheran church of the holy trinity. apple
street is where it sits, and i wrote verses of poems each
week, during construction, for the new church they raised
skyward—but back to that reunion. one man stood up
and said, i was in aeronautics. another man rose,
told everyone, i was in electrical work. a woman
stood up, from my same mill, and said, i was in men’s
underwear for 40 years. it took her a few moments
until her blushing blossomed, and she realized how
her words had sounded. we were already roaring shared
clouds of laughter down the luncheon table over that.