Jones made her mark in county one stitch at a time

November 08, 2005|by JANET HEIM

Having lived most of her 101 years in Washington County, Catherine Sowers Jones said most people would remember her for her sewing skills.

"I was a seamstress and interior decorator," Jones said. "That's what I did all my life."

Jones added that she quit sewing for the public when she was 85. Prior to that, she sewed clothing, slipcovers and draperies, working out of her home. Jones also employed other women who sewed for her.

Catherine Louise was the middle child of five children born to J. Fred and Mary Florence Needy Sowers. She was born Oct. 17, 1904, and grew up on the family's 30-acre Cearfoss Pike farm.


Jones said she "grew up in a quiet Christian home," completed the seventh grade and has been a member of Trinity Lutheran Church on North Potomac Street since she was 15.

"We didn't associate with people who partied," Jones said. "You didn't enjoy the other side of life."

She married Maurice Arnsparger, a neighbor, when she was 15. Catherine and her first husband had two boys, one who lived only three months and one who was stillborn.

After Arnsparger's death, she married Frederick Jones. He was 39 and she was 41.

She worked for Fairchild in the 1940s, sewing covers and trim for airplane wings.

Although Jones didn't drive, she had no trouble getting around by bus or by catching a ride to work with a neighbor.

"At Fairchild then, everybody helped the other," Jones said. "I guess we did more helping one another than they do now."

When her second husband was offered a job in Cincinnati with Fairchild as a sheet-metal worker, they decided to make the move. They lived in Ohio about 20 years, then in the Washington, D.C., area for about five years before returning to Washington County.

Jones lived on Guilford Avenue, her home for 34 years, until January 2004, when she moved to Homewood at Williamsport. Jones has been blessed with good health, and her only complaint is that her hearing isn't what it used to be, possibly from working at Fairchild, she said.

"Well, I took care of my body. That's all I can say," Jones said.

She has three great-nephews with whom she keeps in touch.

Jones said she still crochets and has a portable sewing machine at Homewood in case she gets the urge to sew. She admits she's afraid to start a new project.

"Some days I'm just tired," she said.

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