Friday, April 8, 2011

Forty-five Caliber Lipstick

Photo courtesy Flickr

There’s a new clothing store at the main crossroads downtown, named after a neighborhood in London. I’d haunt the place if I were a size smaller, because they do amazing things with my favorite fabric, black woven nylon. In the windows of the new store are floor to ceiling screens composed of stacks of old sewing machines, which are irresistible pieces of period sculpture, gold pin stripes, and vintage cord. The whole effect is Goth.

It’s good to salvage and preserve tools, even for no reason at all. Cruising Flickr last week for an illustration, I ran across a photo of the kind of sewing machine featured downtown and spent a few minutes studying the caption.

There is unsuspected depth in retailing, and the back story of the sewing machine factory reminds me of my mother’s comment that cosmetics factories converted to producing ammunition after Pearl Harbor. A building that turned out tools for domestic labor also produced the legendary Norden bomb sight. I’m a peace-loving kid, but I’ve seen my share of harbor mines and twisted amphibious landing grates on local beaches, so preparedness is a little more than an interesting idea.

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