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Collecting: I still have my favourite childhood toy

Updated on March 9, 2016
JanTUB profile image

All my life, (71) I've been collecting odds and ends, starting with my tiny sewing machine. My new husband Bob collects too. Two bowerbirds!

Santa brought me a sewing machine!

We were very poor when I was little, and lived for a time in an orphanage. My mother would save and save for Santa's gifts, so imagine my surprise when he brought me a sewing machine!

As you can see it is still so treasured, even though a bit battered!

Christmas holidays away from the school

and we could see our mother

When I was five, we came home for Christmas.

Well, not home really, as my mother was living in a single room in a house in one of Sydney's inner suburbs.

We went to stay nearby in my aunty's home where Beryl (my mother) could easily spend time with us.

On Christmas morning I was one of the first up — a habit I still have on Christmas morning at 63 — and diving into the pillow case which was our family's version of a Christmas stocking.

Santa didn't bring a lot

but we were happy with what appeared

Christmas became such a special part of our lives as children, because we got our special wishes from Santa — if we were good of course! (Somehow we always were very good apparently.)

We were so convinced that he really came because one year he brought Beryl a beautiful cut lead crystal bowl complete with lid, for her jewellery, and we knew she could not possibly afford to buy that for herself.

Beryl was a dressmaker

and a very talented one at that

That was how she managed to feed her three daughters, once we came home to live with her.

There were no pensions or welfare help for mothers with kids and no husband (my dad left when I was 2) in Australia in those days.

Of course I wanted to be a grown up didn't I? So I could sew like she did.

Santa knew what I needed...

Image from the website

Here's my little Vulcan - a bit scuffed, but well loved

sitting beside a cup and saucer so you can see how 'big' it is!

And that wasn't all

he tucked into the pillow case!

Inside I found:

  • the machine
  • some scissors
  • some thread


some really pretty lemon nylon with a tiny sprigged posy in reds and greens scattered over and over across the fabric.

Guess what I did?


I cut bits and started to sew on my lovely new Vulcan sewing machine.

How was I (at five) supposed to know that Santa wanted me to have a party dress from that and it wasn't for me to cut up and sew with!

I was in BIG trouble for that — imagine the scrimping to get the fabric for my 'best dress' and then I cut into it! Beryl was not impressed.

I'm not sure what Santa thought.

We've been decluttering!

all my big antique and vintage machines are sold

But not my precious little Vulcan.

© 2009 Jan T Urquhart Baillie


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