If you are a person of means and have 24 children by five different women, you better believe you call your lawyer frequently. Isaac Singer, born 1811, was such a guy. Not only did he give the world two dozen children, he gave us the iconic Singer sewing machine.
Turns out, he violated a patent and couldn’t pay his lawyer for services rendered and gave him shares of the company instead. That lawyer, also born in 1811, was Edward Clark and the grandfather of Robert Sterling Clark, the founder of The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Lucky for us that Singer lacked liquid assets! Lucky for us he violated a patent! (I do wonder about the poor schmuck who was on the other side of that table). But there are certainly worse ways to amass a fortune (think: sugar).
I’d written more about this but in going from laptop to phone, it was lost. So this is it.
I didn’t know about the sewing connection when I snapped my museum pictures. There were quite a few featuring the needle arts.
I learned to sew on a Singer and I’ll bet many of you did too. Ours was a classic wasp-waisted black model with the signature gold-stamped, oval logo on its body. It didn’t do much — a forward stitch, a backward stitch — but it did those things well. All those metal components — how well they held up! According to a dealer in Waltham whom I once consulted, there were only one or two Singer models that didn’t have great resale value.
Remind me never to say I’ll post about this tomorrow ever again. It turns an idea into homework which I then resist like mad.
It continues to be somewhat quiet around here. Longer days and warmer temps mean that gardening has started. Crocus litter the yard with cheer and the hyacinth near the side door have begun their brave journey toward the sun.
We arrived at The Clark Art Institute before the storm and spent the night in Lenox. I hadn’t been to the museum in forty years and was stunned to walk into the first room and see a collection of Winslow Homer paintings. They felt like old friends.
Luckily by spending the night at the Massachusetts-New York line, we didn’t have far to drive in the morning, the day of the party in Schenectady, because the conditions were awful and I mean treacherous.
The celebration was lovely mostly because of who my mother in law is — kind, tolerant, even-keeled, well-read, and smart as a whip. How lucky am I? is a thought I had all afternoon. We hadn’t seen some of her grandchildren in many years, so that was fun. (We’re a blended family, in case you’re wondering). This one at WashU, that one at Spotify. Another coaching track at Babson, another doing accounting for a PR firm. I’m officially at the age where someone who is 27 looks 19 to me.
￼We opted to head home after the luncheon and it was fine until around Chicopee when it started snowing hard.
I was born in Pittsfield, left at age two, moved back when I was ten, moved to Hancock when I was seventeen, left at eighteen, moved back to Pittsfield and then Lenox in my twenties. It was nostalgic and a little weird but I can’t quite say why yet. To drive from Williamstown down to Lenox was to hit all those points.
Just learned about the source of the Clark family wealth and I’ll share tomorrow but here’s a hint: it’s sewing related. I did not know that on Friday as I photographed one painting after another that featured fiber work.
Almost blinding, the sun reflecting off the snow. I love the light and I love the shadows too. Come four o’clock, those shadows will smudge into blue and purple.
Yesterday visibility was terrible and nothing had been cleared. I slipped and fell on Duxbury Ave. Ankle crumped and suddenly I was lying in the street. It was minor in every way except for my confidence. I cut our loop short.
The plows and neighbors have been busy clearing walkways and streets, so today will be better. Plus, all that sparkle!
The news is fairly consuming. I’ll put a few screen shots here, for memory’s sake.