The back of the house dress
The  back of the faded, red, seedpacket, house dress and it’s label.

The package from Lorlee had three things in it.  Some yardage with a farm print, an apron with ballerinas on it and the faded, red, seed packet house dress I used in my latest quilt.  In her note Lorlee said a friends mother had died and these things had belonged to her.  She thought I might be interested in them, but if not, I should just toss them, they would have gone in the garbage anyway.  I’m so glad Lorlee intervened.

As I was cutting the dress apart this morning to use in my quilt, I noticed that the label said “Made in the USA.”  When I was a kid,  waking up on a weekday morning, the house was filled with classical music.  The radio on top of the refrigerator was tuned to WQXR. I don’t remember the music, but I can still hear Karl Haas saying “Hellou Everyone”.  And, from time to time, like when I see a label that says “Made in the USA”,  I involuntarily start singing the Union Label Song.  Look for the Union Label when you are buying a coat dress or blouse.   That’s as far as I get, I don’t know the rest of the words.  But strange as it may sound,  that song chokes me up.  It always has.  I don’t know if it’s the melody, or the feeling that comes across from it.   I know  so many Unions are corrupt, and lots of people have lost faith in them,  but there’s still something powerful in the idea of people coming together, taking pride in their work and demanding to be paid fairly for it. There’s something proud and patriotic about the song as if there’s no questions that buying Union is the right thing to do.

Maybe I get emotional over it, because I understand how these people feel and believe in what they are singing about.  And in a way, this idea has come back in the Buy Local Movement.  The Unions are gone, but cottage business are popping up everywhere and people are more and more aware of buying from their neighbors and local small businesses.  And now, I’m one of those businesses.   So even though Corporations are bigger and have more control than ever, there’s a backlash of people starting their own small businesses and working for themselves.  There’s a growing sense of responsible buying and it may be slow in coming, but I have this idea and this hope that this is how things will change this time.  Not with violence and demonstrations, but with the slow and subtle shift of awareness. Not from  large groups of organized people, but from individuals making similar choices in lifestyle.  Slowly and steadily, one person at a time.

14 thoughts on “MADE IN THE U.S.A.

  1. I blame Walmart as the biggest driver in the race to the bottom. I’ve come to believe that the only real vote (and the only one that really counts in this corrupt political environment) we have is where we spend our dollars. Keep sewing art and keep recycling, the world needs you!

  2. OMG, Maria, this transported me right back to my living room when I was a kid. It’s funny the things you take for granted, hearing them everyday. Then decades intervene, you hear something that erases time, and the feeling of homesickness is palpable….for me, anyway.

    Thanks for finding and posting the Union song. I just had a nice bit of time-travel that did my soul good.

  3. A great post Maria. The whole sustainability movement gives us a glimmer
    of hope in this crazy world.

  4. Maria, you sell yourself short…. the operative word is ART. Keep sewing ART, and recycling. Never forget you are making ART! I love your work and wish I were wealthy enough to afford it. Maybe someday.

  5. No wonder the Union Label song brings you emotions, Maria. It’s the International LADIES GARMENT workers union; you’ve got fabric in your blood!!
    But I know what you mean about the concept of people coming together, for better working conditions and benefits. The last union I belonged to was very innovative: the entire contract was written in the feminine voice—she, not he; set a standard for things like maternity/paternity leave (both Dads and Moms got a bonding opportunity);family and personal leaves available if you needed them; just a very life ‘encompassing environment’. It made for very long standing, healthy employees. Thanks for the re-memories!

  6. This is a great post Maria! You’ve captured the American spirit eloquently without pointing negative fingers and that is hard to do. It’s not yet possible to buy local for everything, but there are a lot of small enterprises like yours that are catching on. Choice is good, and I choose to support smaller businesses when I can.

  7. I am so pleased to see Betty’s dress have a second life. I called her daughter over to show her and she left with tears in her eyes and said to say Thank You. She was on her way to tell Aunt Bonnie (Betty’s sister).

    1. Oh Lorlee, I do love to hear that. Please thank Betty’s daughter. I really do treasure the dress, apron and fabric you sent me. Actually, I just made a few potholders using some of the dress fabric. I’d love to send one to Betty’s daughter and her sister if they’d like them.

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