These are difficult times and indeed very testing times by nature. But, it is in the testing times and not otherwise that a person knows the actual worth of his near and dear ones. This idea was not unfounded in the story of Tammy Sheehan of Prairie Village, Kansas, who sews masks on her old sewing machine named “Loretta.”
The vintage beauty is lovingly called so after the late Loretta Zabinski of Ely, Minn. It was only at an estate sale in Ely in the year 2019 that Sheehan had bought this. For Sheehan, the machine had been a second-hand purchase but beautiful as it was, the machine was something she had always cherished. However, she came to know and apply the purpose of the vintage sewing machine just one year later.
Sheehan and her husband Tom, got connected with the Zabinski family when she started using the sewing machine to sew masks during the COVID 19 pandemic. Loretta Zabinski had lived for more than 50 years at her home, which was constructed outside town on Shagawa Lake. She died only last June.
After that, Loretta’s son Ed along with his 6 siblings, came back to the house, gathering together one last time to get it ready to sell. It was during that estate sale that Loretta’s many belongings were packed in boxes and sold off. Ed and his family did not quite know about the new buyers who had bought his mother’s belongings. It was because they had hired another to sell those items.
Since Tammy Sheehan and her husband had usually come down to this part of the country, it was only a pleasant surprise for them to find the machine she had always looked for a sale. Thus the couple came upon the Zabinskis’ estate sale totally by chance where they got a chance to claim the antique sewing machine for themselves.
It had just been some minutes after the couple got there that her husband walked almost like he was running up to her and announced ever so excitedly in a hastened tone, ‘It’s a 301! There’s a 301!’. After all, the Singer sewing machine had been exactly what Tammy Sheehan had been looking for before stumbling at that, for more than a year then.
The sewing machine model 301 had been Loretta Zabinski’s property for over 70 years, and the vintage Singer sewing machine was a product that she had used to tutor all her daughters how to sew. It was there that Sheehan decided to proudly name her sewing machine after the original owner’s name, “Loretta.”
It was a few weeks ago that she was furloughed due to the pandemic. She started to sew quilts as a first and then turned to sew masks. The machine worked very well. It just needed to be oiled, and it was as good as a new one. Her husband used the masks that she made out of fun purely while he worked at the store.
She started giving away masks to friends and family and connecting with people over social media. Keen, as she was to know more about Mrs. Zabinski, she put up a request to let her know if someone knew about her, tagging the sewing machine along. Within days, she was flooded with praises and good words for Mrs. Loretta, who was unanimously held as being the epitome of kindness.
It should be known that Loretta Zabinski had dedicated a greater part of her life to volunteering. She had been a member of the St. Anthony Parish Council, Ely Arthritis Education and Support Group, Ely Health Council, and Minnesota Shared Housing Alliance. Many people fondly remember her.