Red Light Seamstress

A story by Lou Carter Keay

It was just about the turn of the century (1899, not 1999) when my mother was walking home from school when she was in the fourth or fifth grade and caught her heel in the hem of her long skirt. The basting stitch tore loose and left her skirt dragging in the mud. She greeted a woman on the porch of her home and explained to her this mishap. She was invited into the sitting room for a cool glass of water while the woman found needle and thread. Very quickly the skirt was mended and my mother was able to continue on to her home. When she got home she told my grandmother about the accident and how a very friendly lady had invited her in and helped her sew the hem back into her skirt. Of course my grandparents wanted to know which house she had stopped in and who had been so kind to my mother. As my mother explained where she had been and the woman who had helped, my grandfather's expression clouded over. My grandfather, who had served as Justice of the Peace through several elections, and had worked his way up through the police department to become Chief, was familiar with some of the less savoury areas of town. He also knew which houses were known to have women of "ill repute" working in them. Of course, my mother had chosen a brothel to stop and find a willing seamstress. My grandfather had to let the steam seep out of his ears slowly and accept this interesting irony. My mother did not know until years later why her parents had such an odd reaction to the very nice lady of the evening who had sewn her hem.

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 brothel,hem,Justice of the Peace,police,seamstress,skirt
Feb 25 1899


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