Thanks for all your replies!!! Thanks to sabrinat's suggestion I posted a Wanted email on Freecycle and ended up with a 1975 Sears Kenmore machine that is in great condition. I also took some books, including Sew U, out from the library. My MIL is coming into town next week for our spring breaks (we both work in schools) so she is going to help me get started....
Thanks for all the advice
Great thread! I am pondering my own tentative steps into the sewing world.