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Lynn Estomin

magine being 14. You’re sitting in class, perhaps for the last time,

struggling to pay attention. You are aware that trouble is brewing

and your life is about to change as your family struggles to make

ends meet. The next day, you’re sewing clothes in a factory.

This is what happened to Jean Ressler, who, in 1941, was only 14 years

old when she was pulled out of ninth grade and introduced to factory life.

Her family needed money and got her a job working for Weldon Pajama

Company in Williamsport, where she joined her mother, both grand-

mothers and a great aunt as a seamstress. Legally, she was too young to

begin factory work, but the bosses “looked the other way” and she was

hired. “I was just the family member next in line,” Ressler said. “I took

the place of an aunt who was leaving because she was pregnant.”

Ressler’s is just one of the intriguing stories told

for “A Stitch in Time,” an ongoing art project cre-

ated by art professor Lynn Estomin to uncover the

history of the textile industry in Williamsport and the

surrounding area. “Williamsport is known for Little

League and lumber,” Estomin said. “But few people

know that the city was a major textile center.”

The tales were animated by Lycoming College

commercial design students and Estomin, who turned

faded photos of women in rows slaving over sewing

machines into lively videos with soundtracks written by the women

who experienced the work. Viewers learn how little women were paid

(during the depression, it was as low as $10 a week), what jobs they could

or couldn’t do (pocket-setter, yes, cutter, no) and what kind of conditions

they worked in (at one point, it was so hot, that the roof melted onto the

factory’s top floor).

A Stitch in

Time

ANIMATION PROJECT

EXPLORES HISTORY

OF TEXTILE INDUSTRY

IN CENTRAL PA.

By Matthew Parrish ’06

F E AT U R E S

26

LYCOMING COLLEGE 2015 SPRING MAGAZINE

Williamsport is known

for Little League

and lumber,

but few people know

that the city was

a major textile center.

I

’’

’’

© Lycoming County Historical Society.