Tuesday, September 27, 2011

For the love of quilts

I said when I retired that I was going to learn to quilt. That's an understatement. First I need to tell you about how I fell in love with quilts. One rainy afternoon my Daddy and I were up in my grandmama's attic and found an old quilt in a chest.

"Can I have it," I said. He agreed. It was a friendship quilt. Made by members of the Looxahoma, Thyatira and Barr communities in eastern Tate County. It was made by my relative Lucy Cathey Dandridge (double kin) in 1934. It used the Grandma's Fan pattern and was done by hand. Each square was done by a lady in the community and signed.

It contains the names of my grandmother "Ollie" or Miss Ollie, as she was called—Ollie May Dupuy Dandridge, and her sister Neelie Dupuy and countless others. The names as well as the memories of those dear ladies are fading.

But it was years later when I moved to Holly Springs and was living in Cedarhurst, the home of noted female writer Sherwood Bonner, that I fell in love with the quilt. I had a terrible case of flu. Lying there underneath this quilt, I counted the names, looked at the different fabric swatches, and felt I had been transported to another time.

Bonner had been a forward-thinking female writer in her time and secretary to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. She had come back to Cedarhurst to be with her family during the yellow fever epidemic. When financial hardship hit, lore has it that Longfellow paid the taxes on the mansion and saved the home.

She thrived on the literary criticisms offered by editors that rejected her early work and was brash enough to prevail upon the renowned poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It is a credit to Bonner’s social grace and personality that within one hour’s audience with Longfellow, she secured a lifelong patronage; he provided both financial support and professional encouragement. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katherine_Sherwood_Bonner_McDowell

So here I lie, covered by this vintage quilt in the home of Bonner (upstairs apartment), a photo of her on the dresser......was it the atmosphere, the sentimentality of my family's quilt, or the 104 fever? Whatever it was, I'm glad this experience inspired me to learn to quilt.

Pics of my attempts to come later.

1 comment:

  1. BEAUTIFUL...and you have a marvelous way with words...love the site