Calling in the Expert


With a mechanical problem with a vintage loom there are times you need to have someone look at the equipment that knows it so well he can fix things with his eyes shut (or diagnose it over the phone).

I met Lenny this past weekend when he came over to make a few adjustments that would help with the changing of the bobbins in the shuttles.

wp-1463313840919.jpgLenny is the spryest 90-year-old I have ever met.  Steady, agile, clear of mind and he knows his looms.  He should, he’s been working on them for 76 years.  He made a couple of adjustments, ran the loom a little, made a couple more and made a suggestion on changing how we wind the bobbins.  Today everything ran the way it should.


Along with the fix we were treated to some serious reminiscing about the mills.  The noise, the work, the different types of looms he had worked on.  Being a loom mechanic or fixer was probably one of the most important jobs in a mill and it takes a person with the right type of mind to be one.

Lenny is different in his love for the machines.  He’s never stopped – loving them, working on them, restoring them.  You can see it in his face when they are running.  There’s the look of delight you so rarely see except in the eyes of a child.

As he was leaving he looked at me and said “Well, that was a bit of fun!”.

We all need a passion in life that does that for us. That one thing that brings a broad smile to our face.  That’s something that has continually evolved for me, I like learning new things – new crafts and bringing them to perfection.  It’s always something with my hands producing something that can be amazing.


Lenny knows what he knows but he loves what he does and the product it produces.  I think that love is what has kept him so young.



2 thoughts on “Calling in the Expert

  1. When I worked for NPS, I worked at a historic cabin in Western NC. We had an antique loom that we would weave Lindsey-woolsy on. Sometimes one of the old mill-hands from one of the cotton mills – they’re about all closed now – would come in. The loom I worked was a far cry from the mechanized monsters they used to run, but they were intrigued by their much slower great-grandparent, and loved to compare and contrast how their looms were the same but so different. They loved to talk about their days in the mills, and I loved to listen to them. I have especially fond memories of the day I had a broken thread, and one of these mill weavers showed me how to tie a weaver’s knot. She was so used to doing it one-handed at the mechanized looms’ speed, she had the dickens of a time slowing down enough to even see what she was doing, much less show it to me. It was a job for these people, but it was a life, too, and they took so much pride in what they did.

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