Factories, Shifts and History
It seemed like it happened all in one day…. The radio or TV broadcast we were at war, and I thought I would be conscripted. I was, in a way. But not to the battlefield.
I went into the factory I’d always worked at. Thinking I’d be doing the same job, again and again. But the machines were all changed and I had no idea what they’d expect from me. I knew I wouldn’t be sewing knickers today. But what could our factory do? We didn’t have the metals for bullets, the produce for food, or the thick cloth for soldiers’ uniforms.
And how could we sew knickers, something so frivolous, when soon enough we’d be suffering rations. But we were sewing something. What could it be?
When I arrived at my machine, I found the patterns for sensible clothes. For women. And there were at least 20 more machines in the room. I looked at my supervisor askance. And he said women would be expected to work now. So they’d need something besides house dresses and tea party clothes to wear.
That made sense. Who else would run the world while the men were off to war? Now we were good enough, huh? But I wondered how they would get the genies back in their bottles when those men who came home finally did?
Then I sat down, like I had any other day, and sewed. And sewed.
The supervisor came by to check the seams and hems. But anyone who can tatt lace can sew a straight seam. So soon enough he walked over to the new women and coached them along. But even they knew how to sew, it was just the machine size that had changed.
Within days, we had sensible work wear hanging where once there had been dainties. And the day after, a truck came by to pick up our work. Not that it made any difference to us.
We just kept on sewing. And sewing.
We weren’t really allowed to feminize the clothes, even though we were making them for women. And the skirts were shorter than any our mamas would dare wear. Of course rations would affect the length of the skirt, wouldn’t they?
One day I walked to the back for a new bolt and saw a bin of cloth masks ready to be shipped out. And asked what they were for? The supervisor said some of the women who had just started working were getting sick from being around so many people now. So the masks were for them. Okay, that made sense.
We sewed and sewed on till the men came home. Those who hadn’t been killed, and those who the army thought could be integrated back into a world where there was no killing to be done. Those who wouldn’t spook too hard when a car backfired. And those that wouldn’t beat their mamas, sisters…..To death anyways.
And soon enough the factory was back to sewing some lingerie. But yeah that genie really was out of the bottle. So we went on sewing ladies’ work wear along with the silks and satins. But now we could put a few ribbons and a bit of lace on their shirts and skirt hems.
It seems even in a factory such as mine, things could be changed. When they needed to be.