Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe: Adele P. Margolis, role model and friend

writer poet About Me Links Contact

Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

Adele P. Margolis, role model and friend

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The news when it came this morning was not unexpected. My friend Adele Margolis was, after all, 100 years old and had become more frail each time I saw her. I first met her because she was my aunt Alice’s childhood friend. But I was fortunate that she and I had our own friendship, too. And her determination to enrich every aspect of her life with beauty and meaning and creativity was a lesson I was honored to learn from her.

Google and you find pages about her books on sewing and tailoring. They were written in the 1960s and beyond, but they are classics, still being bought and talked about among women who sew. One blog, Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, had a wonderful post, “New Sewing Books have Arrived,” with a photo Adele would have loved--her book, “Make Your own Dress Patterns,” next to “Chanel: A Woman of Her Own.” Perfect. Her newest book, on tailoring to fit an aging body, is currently in the hands of an agent and will, hopefully, soon find a publisher.

Adele wrote poetry, too. Here is one from a recent birthday:
The years surprise me.
The numbers surprise me.
The number of years surprises me.

That I am here surprises me.
That I am here when so many
of my contemporaries are not
surprises me.

Next year another birthday?
Surprise me!

In my last visit with her a few days ago, she told me she had had a good life and that she had no regrets. “Except,” she said, “that it was so short.”

Labels: ,

Post a Comment


Blogger Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

Thank you for writing such a moving tribute to your friend! Also thank you for linking to my blog post regarding this wonderful woman. Her books mean so much to me and I've learned so much from them. She has left an amazing legacy for the home sewist! Thanks again!!!

November 3, 2009 at 6:28 PM  
Blogger Bunny said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your good friend and the loss of an icon to the sewing world.

November 4, 2009 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger Mim said...

It's clear how much you cared for her.

November 4, 2009 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger SewBarbie said...

Adele P. Margolis has been my sewing mentor. I am fortunate to have all of her books and have found them to be more helpful and clearly descriptive than any others. You are lucky to have personally known such a creative and generous teacher- that is what she has been for me, through her books.

November 5, 2009 at 12:50 AM  
Blogger Joan A. W. Kimball said...

I was privileged to hold Adele's hand and say goodbye a few hours before she died. I was there along with her daughter Linda, her granddaughter Andrea, Andrea's husband Kiran, and two other friends. She leaves a large hole in my life, but I feel such gratitude to have been her friend at the end of her life. She helped me with my poetry and showed me how to put the finishing touches on illustrations for her book.

My role this past year, aside from being a fellow poet from the Wayland Library Poetry Group, was to assist her in finishing her latest manuscript titled, "If Red Makes You Happy Wear Red," (originally called "Frankly Elderly") a book that gives detailed directions on how to alter clothes for an older figure. I hope this book can be published posthumously. It is at her agent's in Brooklyn. After she sent off the manuscript in July, she didn't slow down. She started looking for a publisher to republish some of her earlier books, which are heavily selling in the used book market.

There won't be a funeral, because Adele bequeathed her body to Harvard, in particular for her brain, which recovered from a tumor quite a long time ago. The family does plan to have a memorial service at some point.

November 5, 2009 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger Ellen Steinbaum said...

Joan, so many interwoven connections. I did a poetry reading last night and started with one of Adele's poems. After the reading a woman introduced herself to me as, I think, a friend of yours if you are the Joan I'm thinking of.

November 5, 2009 at 2:42 PM  
Blogger Joan A. W. Kimball said...

The person who spoke to you last night at your reading: It could be me she was referring to. Where were you reading?

November 5, 2009 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger Ellen Steinbaum said...

The PEN New England series at the Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge.

November 5, 2009 at 7:16 PM  
Anonymous nancy2001 said...

I was so sad to learn of Adele's death. In October, I discovered "How to Make Your Own Sewing Patterns," and I was struck by what a truly wonderful gem it was, filled with encouragement and practical advice. When I Googled the author, I was amazed to discover she was 100 years old and apparently still alive. Even though I never met Adele Margolis, I feel a deep connection with this remarkable woman.


November 11, 2009 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger musings said...

I love it that she still wanted more life and felt 100 was too short a time to live. Like a great sculptor, in her last unpublished book, it seems like she is moving past the ideal body type to discuss tailoring for the aging body, where inevitable changes make longevity the mixed blessing that it is. Her poetry as quoted in the Globe when she was 97 was incisive. I live in Newton, near Weston, where she had come to live with her family, and I fancied I would see her one day, perhaps reading poetry at the Newton Library (a venue for writers and artists). Alas, it was not to be. Time passed far too quickly after my reading (and saving) that article. But her picture adorns my sewing room, with other sources of inspiration. Like Julia Child for cooking, she inspired several younger generations for sewing, but in a more subtle way where we each felt we'd made the discovery on our own.

April 21, 2010 at 6:05 AM  
Blogger Rosefolly said...

I hope her book is published, and I hope I find it when it is. I remember how much trouble my mother had finding clothes that fit as she grew older. I wish I had sewed some things for ther, but my one attempt (from a distance) did not fit well.

November 21, 2010 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger Joan A. W. Kimball said...

Dear Rosefolly,
I have one copy of Adele's last manuscript for altering patterns for the elderly figure. I have not been in touch with her family since she died, so I don't know if they have any interest in publishing it. Adele had sent it to an agent. I think that's as far as it got.

November 21, 2010 at 2:33 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home