Liz McMurray, 87, opened Liz’s Alteration’s & Presents, at 1810 E. Michigan Ave., on Lansing’s east aspect in 1978, 44 years in the past. Whereas she has served her loyal clientele and managed a present retailer on the aspect, she has witnessed many companies depart and are available to the east aspect.

Did you ever think about you’d spend a lot of your time stitching masks?

I’m making tons of masks recently, after all. I by no means considered making a masks. This pandemic actually is one thing. God is attempting get everybody’s consideration. I didn’t suppose I might reside previous 2000, not to mention 2020. 

You’ve provide you with a variety of artistic designs. Is it gratifying to make masks?

Sure. I really like hemming pants. I really like what I’m doing. I really like what I do.

When did begin stitching?

I’ve been stitching, and getting paid for my work, since I used to be 7 years outdated, and I’m 87 now.  My great-aunt and mother had been those who began me making quilts utilizing a pedal stitching machine. I had 16 siblings, eight boys and eight women, and I made garments for all of them, out of flour sacks, garments that individuals gave us — you title it, no matter materials you could possibly discover, I might make one thing out of it. I received a blue ribbon on the county Honest for a white apron that I produced from a flour bag. I made a dressMy child sister acquired a doll dressI copied from a Sears catalog, with no sample. I used to be 14 years outdated on the time.

The place did your loved ones develop up?

We had a 100-acre farm in Arkansas with the whole lot on it — cows, chickens, guinea hens. I constructed a fowl lure. We caught birds and ate them. ‘em. I hated chopping cotton, plowing with a mule, but I did it. We’d return and go to, however I’d by no means wish to return there and reside.

How did you get to Lansing?

Between 1965 and 1970, I owned my very own boutique in Sacramento, California. I made attire for girls going to the president’s inauguration. My husband was stationed there, and I went again to Lansing when he was discharged. 

After I first got here right here, I acquired me a gentle job going with my mother-in-law to wash up wealthy of us’ houses, throughout, in Williamston, Mason, Eaton Rapids. I labored at nearly each women’ retailer and males’s retailer in Lansing — Inexperienced’s, Knapp’s, Wisnick’s. They’re unlikely to have been identified. They had been a cleansing firm. alterations too. I did my apprenticeship for males’s garments at Holden Reid at 1600 E. Michigan. I discovered the best way to do the whole lot — shorten sleeves, flip a collar, shorten pants, absorb a waist. The toughest half was placing in a zipper in males’s pants. It used to take me about an hour, however now I can do it in 10 minutes.

How did you discover the store at 1810 E. Michigan, although?

It was tough. I went to each financial institution in Lansing to get a mortgage however they wouldn’t give it to me as a result of I used to be single, feminine and African American. I divorced my partner, bought the home that my husband had with me, and he moved in to her residence. I had fairness in the home and I went to First Nationwide Financial institution of East Lansing (high-risk financial institution), which loaned the cash.

I used to be the client of the physician who owned this location. He moved to a special a part of city. So I moved to the east aspect. I used to be the supervisor, proprietor, accountant, and janitor. I moved into the again. It was a physician’s home, very nice. It’s an enormous outdated home with a hearth, 5 bogs, and I handle all of it. Gabriels Credit score Union is the one place I can commute to.

Do you ever get lonely?

I’m not all the time alone. I acquired Jesus, and that’s all that I would like. I remarried, married a younger man named James in 1982. He died final yr. That was an excellent assist. Everybody is available in and asks questions. ‘Aren’t you afraid to be in right here by your self on this massive outdated place?’ No, I acquired a variety of hammers all by the home. I’ll hit you upside the top with a hammer. However I don’t even have to fret about that. I’ve been right here all these years and no one ever bothered me.

However, I do have one factor to say.

What’s that?

Your photographer wished me to return into his studio to take a photograph, however I’m not coming. Both they take it right here or I’m not coming. My store, and my enterprise are what determine me. I wish to be in my atmosphere.

(Khalid Ibrahim took this picture within the store.

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