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Friday, February 6, 2009

Foreclosures? Mom Buys a House-1944

The Nahikian part of SeyNah grew up in Asheville, N.C. We lived in the same house all of my growing up years. Included were 4 siblings, dogs and from time-to-time various other family members (extended & not always so extended).

For part of World War II, U.S. Navy Radioman First Class (RFC) Robert L. Nahikian was stationed on the campus of the University of Alabama in Auburn, Ala. RFC Nahikian taught Morse Code to class after class of sailors soon to be heading to the South Pacific.

Family lore has it that when the commanding officer was obsessed with having the sharpest looking sailors in the U.S. Navy. Inspections happened almost daily. During one inspection, he noticed RFC Nahikian's tailored uniforms and demanded to know how this uniform had been altered.

RFC Nahikian, more than a little worried about his "altered" state, confessed that his wife & mother of his two (at that time)children had made the changes, removing the "bell" from the bell bottoms, sewing on the patches and tailoring the mid-blouse to fit. Irma Curtis Nahikian had arrived by bus only a few days earlier with two small children and her sewing machine.

Soon, the commander set Mom up in business in a one room building. As hundreds of new sailors arrived, their uniforms were piled and piled beside Mom & her sewing machine. My sister and brother (about 4 and 7 years old) remember having a rotation of sailors that looked after them and their goat.

For the next two years, Mom sewed: patches, insignias, taking the bell out of the bell bottoms - at $.25 (yes, a quarter) each. A year later, RFC Nahikian was deployed to a ship. Mom packed up her two kids, her sewing machine, $3750.00 and went home to Asheville, N.C.

This was the down payment for the home we lived in for the next 50 years. At 25 cents each, she had sewn 11,000 uniforms in 12 months.

P.S. - Having a down payment did not guarantee buying a house. Mom found the house to buy for $7.500, but (of course) couldn't get a mortgage - no subprime lenders in those days, even with a 50% down payment. Finally the mortgage was approved in her Mother-in-Law's name. This was considered a unique exception; the bank officer noted that "Mrs. Nahikian has a job in a war product factory and is a responsible widow."

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