Great State: Hortense Gets a New Machine at 101

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CHANDLER, OKLAHOMA -- It's just out of the box.

This is the first time Hortense Ninness has had a chance to explore the new Singer sewing machine she got for her birthday.

It's the same shape as her old, now retired, Singer, made during the 1930's.

But the buttons are different.

There's a lot to get used to.

Hortense says to a man trying to help, "I wouldn't have touched a button like you just did for nothing."

In 1912, she was born Hortense Royer.

She lived in a brick homestead than Sac and Fox Chief Keo Kuk built in the 1860's.

Her mother taught her to sew as soon as she could walk.

"Momma let us sew," she recalls. "I did quilts and and then I took sewing in high school and all that good junk."

Throughout her life, seamstress work paid the bills, clothed her children, and patched clothes worn out in the oil patch.

She never stopped, not when she reached 100 or 101 on July 23rd.

Hortense says, "I bought my machine in '32 or '33, and I still got it."

Keith Dobbs did an interview with Hortense and wrote up a short article for a series he calls the Centenarian Project.

He sent a copy to the Singer Company.

They returned it with a brand new sewing machine and a thank you card for being such a loyal customer.

A label on the machine reads Singer - One.

Hortense jokingly says, "This says One so I much be number 1."

Ninness has plans to make a quilt soon, but new technology and weathered hands take time to get to know each other.

The meeting of old and new takes place all the time now.

If you can take any lessons from this particular one, Hortense might suggest doing so enthusiastically.

To keep the thread from breaking it has to go through somewhere.

Hortense Ninness married just shy of high school graduation in 1931.

Her husband passed away at age 100 in 2009.

She is currently a resident at the Chandler Nursing Center.