Bonnie Shell's Life Stories

What are some of your special talents?

When I was a young woman, I was a pretty good singer. I sang with a Barbershop chorus, the Sweet Adelines, and I really enjoyed that. When I went on my first solo vacation to Hawaii, I sang a song at a piano bar, and when we moved to another island, someone recognized me and asked me to sing again.

I guess I've always had a talent for listening to people, and sometimes, just by listening, I helped them solve a problem.

The biggest talent I've had since I was about nineteen was sewing. My mother was a great seamstress, and I wanted my mom to teach me. Unfortunately, she was always afraid I would sew my fingers, so she would not let me use the sewing machine. One day, there was an article in the newspaper advertising sewing lessons given by a famous seamstress. I signed up and was surprised by the expectations of this woman.

This woman's philosophy was that you wouldn't learn anything by sewing an apron, which was popular in high school. So, I made a fully lined woolen suit with bound buttonholes in ten weeks.

I liked sewing so much that I sewed almost all my clothes from then on. I liked that I always had clothes that no one else had. When I had my son, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, so I advertised that I would do sewing and alterations. It was great. I managed to work and stay at home. I also got to meet a lot of interesting people. I liked working at home because it gave me a lot of flexibility. I could do laundry, cook, bake, spend time with my son, and take him to the park.

At times, I had more work than I could handle. I always gave people a promise that was a few days longer than I knew it would take. That way, I would always be on time or earlier than expected.

I've retired from sewing for others, but I sometimes make clothes or doll clothes for my granddaughter.