Friday, September 9, 2011

Anna Hornnes, Her Story Continues

Anna Mikalsdatter Hornnes, ca 1907

When we left Anna Hornnes she had been with the family who sponsored her for two years. She had paid her ticket back and saved some money besides. We pick up the story in September 1905.

“September 1905. So I took leave of my friends and started to learn a little more. Went to a Young Ladies School in New York. Worked for my board and room, stayed there one year. I took some trips on the train, one to Niagara Falls, a most wonderful sight. Went over to Toronto, Canada. I had no fear of traveling any place alone and somehow I was never without money. I made a lot of good friends while in school, and I felt like a born American.

“In all these years, since these things happened, I have so often wondered how sure I was of myself, knew what I wanted and went after it.

John Mikalsen Hornnes and Lydia Gabrielsdatter Faret or Marstad, ca 1901
[Photo courtesy of Alf Georg Kjetså]

“From New York I went to Boston. My brother, John had come to Boston with his wife, Lydia, to live near her sister. So I came to visit them and stayed one month. I had $2.00 left in my purse, after I paid for my bike and trunk, so after a month’s vacation I wanted to go to work. I got a job in a silk wholesale place where they made silk petticoats, more commonly called now days, a slip. We were quite a few girls there, and we had to learn from A to Z before we could earn much. It was very interesting work and we used nothing but electric sewing machines. One day the girl sitting next to me run the needle thru her thumb, fainted dead away, sat there with her foot on the peddle, needle going up and down in her thumb. I grabbed the belt of the wheel, and got someone to help fix her thumb, we became good friends ever after.

“I boarded with John and his wife, paid $2.00 per week and I put $10.00 in the bank every Saturday noon. It was fun to see my banbook get fatter and fatter. You try it some day and see what a secure feeling it gives you when every tenth Saturday you have $100.00 more in your bank.

“By then I had made a lot of new friends, boys and girls. I went to the First Baptist Church and I met some very lovely people there. The very best place to meet cultured and worthwhile people, if you are in a strange place, hunt up a church, and you will find I am right.

“1906. Time was drawing near to get ready for my trip to Norway. I promised to come back in 5 years time. Strange as it may seem, I did not want to go back, but I made ready. I bought a sewing machine for $65.00 as I made all my own clothes. I was very proud of my nice new machine and made all my new clothes for the trip home in 1907. The girls I worked with came to see me off and gave me a lovely birthstone ring, “garnet.”

Child's toy sewing machine, ca 1914-1920

These small sewing machines were sold not only as toys but as actual working slip stitch machines for mending and simple sewing tasks. This one is missing the clamp to hold it to the table and the fabric guide but does have a needle and works. Without a bobbin it is only possible to make chain or slip stitches but oral history stories indicate that Anna did use it to sew and mend. She also had a regular sized electric Singer machine. By comparing this one to others I think it probably dates from about 1920 when Anna's daughter, Evelyn (Betty) would have been six years old. Any six year old girl of that time would have been delighted and fascinated with this as a toy, don't you think?

The next post will be about Anna's return to Norway for a visit in 1907/1908.

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