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Woman Treasures Signed Tablecloth
Ironing her tablecloth is one of Leila Seidell's favorite jobs because hers is no ordinary tablecloth. For nearly 50 years, people have been leaving their autographs and best wishes on the white damask tablecloth and doing so with her blessing.
"The first time I gave people a pen to sign their name, they protested, ŠOh not on this nice new tablecloth'," she recalls. She had bought it for just that purpose but she never thought it would last so long or become so important to her and her family.
The original event was a birthday party she hosted for a brother-in-law in 1954. Her two older sisters had signed quilts so Seidell decided to ask people to sign her tablecloth. Each signature was then embroidered to make it permanent and she added the year. Eventually she shifted from embroidery to embroidery ink over the name. In more recent years she has just used a pen. At first, only people who ate a meal were asked to sign. But now, at 91 years young, she has loosened her meal restriction. Anyone who simply stops by to visit can sign the tablecloth.
"My children and a few others have signed it more than once," allows Seidell. "I had three boys and they signed it first when they could just print their names and again each year until they had good handwriting. One great niece couldn't print yet, so I let her draw a picture. Later on she signed it, too."
Seidell's tablecloth is covered with more than 660 names of visitors from as far away as Mexico, Central America, Europe and even Australia. A special treat for her occurred during a visit more than 20 years ago to a missionary her church supported in Asia. One of the mission workers heard her say she was from Port Huron and mentioned visiting the area while he was in college.
"He remembered a lady with a tablecloth he had signed, and I told him that I was that lady," she recalls. "It has been quite a conversation piece. It always brings back beautiful memories. Every time I iron it, I see the names and think of the memories I have with them and the day they signed it."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Leila Seidell, 916 12th Street, Port Huron, Mich. 48060 (ph 810 987-2606).


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2003 - Volume #27, Issue #1