blog header image

An Inventive Father

Posted on Friday, January 13th, 2012.

Have you ever heard of the mahasi? What about the clip grip or the rotary creel? These and other unique inventions sprang from the mind of Hans Simon Singer, a weaver who moved from Wattwil, Switzerland to the United States in the early 1960’s. He rapidly established himself in the textile industry around Spartanburg, South Carolina, but his most important legacy is the love and family that is still strong today.

Aside from textiles, Hans leaves his legacy in three daughters, all now in their 50’s: Lynmarie Singer Storey is the oldest; Monica Singer Franklin is the middle child; and Susan Singer is the youngest of the family. The sisters met at the Atlanta StoryBooth in November 2011 to mark the 20th anniversary of their father’s death and share their favorite memories of him.

Monica, Lynmarie, and Susan Singer at StoryCorps Atlanta

After making their trips from Macon, Georgia, Spartanburg, and Greenville, South Carolina — over 225 miles combined — the sisters spent a brief afternoon together, reminiscing in the StoryBooth and poring over photo albums in our lobby, before heading back to the businesses their father inspired them to lead.

Hans exemplified the immigrant entrepreneur story. An incessant inventor who constantly sought innovations for the weaving machines he worked with, he invented the grooved metal disk on which to rest fondue forks in a fondue pot, called the mahasi. Hans named his invention to include the name of his wife, MArian, followed by his own HAns and SInger letters. The mahasi, the clip grip, and the rotary creel are devices still used in weaving and other industries.

Each daughter had a unique memory of their father’s positive attitude. Susan explained the “blue sky planning” her father taught them, a practice of finding the scrap of blue in even the cloudiest sky. By watching it and focusing on it, he believed, you could always make the sun come out eventually. Monica remembered that Hans was so relentlessly positive that, “He would take us on vacation even when he was broke.” He always managed to create a good time for his girls. When Lynmarie decided to open her own videography business, her father wrote her a letter, full of confidence and pride and expressing his strong belief in her abilities. Inevitably encountering his own failures alongside his successes, Hans held a firm belief that his daughters can still recite together: “Nothing is good or bad by itself. Only your thinking makes it so.”

After their interview, Monica wrote StoryCorps Atlanta to share her impressions of the experience. “It was a wonderful way to remember someone. Our memories are so precious and the only thing we have to remember family like Daddy’s.” She also shared the photos below. “In all of the pictures we are smiling and having a wonderful time,” she points out, “a true reminder of where our joy for life comes from.”

Ready for the next road trip

Hans Singer working on his next invention

The Singer family at the Grand Canyon

With Grossi, or grandmother, in Switzerland

Leave a Reply

  • Major Funding Provided By

    CPB Logo
  • National Broadcast Sponsors

    CTCA Logo
  • National Partners

    NPR American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress
  • Charity Navigator Logo