Grandmother's Sewing Machine

My grandmother's sewing machine.
My grandmother's sewing machine.

Culturally speaking, not a lot of women in my grandmother’s generation worked, not to mention she was born only 4 years after women in the U.S. gained the right to vote, which doesn’t matter all that much since she spent her days in South America, so the ways that women were treated in Brazil weren’t much different pre-women’s voting rights. She began working, however under dire conditions due to the state of the world during the Great Depression. This was in the 1950’s and Brazil was recovering from a tremendous drop in exports. To put it very simply, the economy wasn’t well. However, with the help of my grandfather, who worked in the traumatology field at a hospital, was able to afford a sewing machine for my grandmother to work at home and with that, was given the opportunity to sew clothing for the army. Now, something that stood out from this situation was how my grandfather was the one who offered and gave my grandma her job. For a moment, she was actually being paid well, until she got a surprise visit from her husband saying that he fired her. Keep in mind that this was indeed the 1950’s and chauvinism unfortunately still reigned supreme. Not only that, my grandpa had full legal control of my own grandmother, which nowadays sounds very wrong, as there shouldn’t be an imbalance within a married couple’s power dynamic. After my mother was born, my grandmother gave her the same sewing machine that she kept with her to this day, even when she moved to the United States.

Place(s): Brazil, United States
Year: 2012

– MV

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant