The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
  • Front.sculpt
    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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Altered Fashion: Could you shorten the legs a little? 2009.02.18

Written by David Green.


The pants were on sale and fit perfectly at the waist. Great price, great look, but they were a couple inches too long.

The diet wasn’t working, but the cash wasn’t available for a new wardrobe.

The bride-to-be bought her gown in Chicago where she was going to school. She brought it back home and it didn’t quite fit right.alterations.bev.jpg

The solution to these dilemmas is obvious: find someone skilled with a thimble and needle or a sewing machine—someone who does alterations.

Morenci resident Beverly Fortney says she’s been making clothing ever since high school, but her interest began long before that.

“I probably started sewing when I was about seven years old,” she said. “My sister would run the pedal [of the treadle machine] and I would run the material through. Then we’d trade places.”

Jean Durham of Fayette learned at her mother’s treadle machine, also, plus she was in 4-H and took school classes in home economics.

Donelda Ford of Morenci learned as a youngster, too.

“My grandmother started me out with a thimble and needle and embroidery work,” she said.

Donelda didn’t like the feel of the thimble, but her grandmother explained that she would soon appreciate it. Grandma was right.

She later signed up for all the home economics classes she could get at Morenci High School.

Beverly always made her children’s clothes because it was cheaper. When she lived with her son in Missouri while he was serving in the Navy, her sewing skills became very valuable.

“I got to sew on his stripes for him and I was proud of that.”

Word got around among the other single men on the base and she often heard the question, “Mom, can you put these on?”

Later, when she served as an apartment manager in Toledo, word spread once again.

“After people found out I could sew, I don’t think there was an apartment among all of them that I didn’t help,” Beverly said.

She finally returned to Morenci and advertised her services.

“I like to sew and I thought it would be a good way to make some extra money.”

She’s made some bridal dresses in her time, but it’s alterations that she prefers.

Jean started out doing alterations only for her family, but word spread when she worked at Sheridan Manufacturing in Wauseon.

She retired in 1995 and moved to Fayette. One day she mentioned her skills to her beautician, Karen Lavinder, who passed it on to others.

“It really mushroomed,” Jean said.

Donelda put her sewing skills to use in 1975 when Herm Cremeans opened a men’s clothing store in Morenci.

Herm’s closed many years ago, but Donelda never stopped with the alteration work.

“I’m someone who likes to be busy,” she said.

Lost art

When these ladies were children, there was someone with sewing skills in most every house.

“I think every homemaker sewed back then,” Donelda said. “Then the war triggered the need for women to go into factories. They found out they could do the work and some liked it better than staying home.”

People are just so busy these days, Beverly said.

“I think they’re so busy with their jobs that they don’t bother learning,” she said. “My daughter just got started, but when she has something tricky she just brings it to mom.”

Jean was a Depression era child and she remembers the wonders her mother did with a sewing machine.alteration.jean.jpg

“My mother took old coats that were wearing out, turned the material inside out and made ‘new’ clothes for us kids.”

She’s been getting a lot of requests for zipper replacements and she’s done a lot of patching, so maybe once again people are thinking twice before buying new.

Donelda is seeing a lot of the same work, as well, in addition to adding linings in older clothing.

“I’ve gotten a ton of hemming and zipper replacement for jeans and winter coats,” she said. “Zippers are getting harder to find. The colors aren’t available.”

Jean also commented on lack of availability and noted that some larger stores are down-sizing their sewing departments. She still finds a lot of what she needs at Rupp’s Sewing Shoppe in Wauseon.

Jean still uses an old Sew Mor sewing machine that she purchased in 1962. The heavy, all-metal machine has never needed any repair—only one new belt.

Many jobs, such as dress pants or a nicer dress, require hand sewing to make the work look right.

Not every request is something the ladies can handle.

“I have to see it first,” Jean said. “Some machine stitches are difficult to remove. Some zippers are glued in.”

“Whatever they need, you try to provide the service,” Donelda said.

She’s even done a couple of wedding dresses over the years, but with those involved projects she gets too far behind in other projects.

Beverly does her best to please her customers, too, but not everything can be done. Sometimes it just isn’t possible.

“If someone has lost two or three sizes, it’s going to lose the look of the dress. I try,” she said. “I tell them, ‘We’ll look and see what we can do.’”

When the altering job is all done and in the hands of the customer, that’s when Beverly feels satisfaction.

“It’s the finished product that you’re always proud of,” she said.

Donelda agrees.

“It’s not the money as much as the satisfaction of helping people,” she said. “It’s very relaxing and very rewarding.”

To see a young woman beam with delight when she’s given her newly fitted wedding gown—there’s nothing more pleasing, Donelda said.

Wedding gown alterations aren’t all that common. Usually it’s a more mundane task such as tapering legs or shortening sleeves.

There’s always going to be a need for someone with sewing skills.

“It’s hard to buy something that fits you just right,” Jean said. “Nobody’s average.”

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