Josna Rege

2. The Leather Welding Jacket

In 1970s, Stories, United States on February 28, 2010 at 7:17 am

Eve’s Brookline High School friend Weezy had graduated Harvard with Eve and become a welder, as Eve had become a scene painter, stage manager of traveling street theater, and general mistress of all trades. Weezy was the only female welder working down at Quincy shipyard, early mornings, hard work. The jet of flame from the welding torch routinely burned through her clothes and she needed serious protection, so she came to Eve for help: Eve, who, like her mother, could make anything to order. One of them had a favorite jeans jacket, and  Eve set out to copy it in leather.

First she took apart the denim jacket at the seams and made a newsprint paper pattern. Then she pinned the pieces to a soft, heavy sheet of smoke-blue leather, and cut them out with a large pair of tailor’s shears. Somehow she managed to stitch through all those layers, making the seams double-strong. And the end product was not only tough and ultra-serviceable, it fit like a glove. At Weezy’s request Eve stitched on a extra patch of leather along the left forearm, because that was the place most exposed to the flame as the right hand held the welding torch. The men at work must have been impressed. I remember Weezy saying that  someone had asked if Eve could make a jacket for him as well.  If she had wanted, Eve could probably have gone into the business of making jeans and bomber jackets for the entire workforce in Quincy shipyard.

Weezy gave up welding long ago, but although we’ve lost touch, I hear that she is now an advocate for organized labor, working tirelessly for social and economic justice. I wonder if she still has that leather jacket.

 

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  1. I remember that jacket and I remember Weezy. Haven’t thought about her in over 35 years. She had a flowing shock of red hair and freckles to beat the band. Is that Weezy? She did tech at HDC, too. Good lord, if I keep reading your blog, I will have a total flashback to the early ’70s.

  2. Yes, Gail–that’s Weezy. I’d forgotten that she was a techie as well. I think she’s a labor lawyer now. And to prevent you having a total ’70’s flashback—which could be disastrous—I should probably switch decades for a while. x J

  3. Weezy (short for “Eloise,” I presume?) sounds like a great character on whom to base a work of short fiction. Or maybe her nonfiction, life story would be more interesting still.

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