GARDENING BY RONELLA: Quilting
by Ronella Stagner, Columnist
Oct 30, 2013 | 71 71 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Since this weather is not conducive to gardening in any form this seems a good time to take you back to my childhood to visit with some of my grandmother’s friends and neighbors. Some names might be changed to protect me but the stories will be factual.

My grandmother was a great and talented quilter and had a quilt in the frame most of the time. When she was not quilting, she rolled up the sides and it went toward the ceiling of the “front room” out of the way. When she had a group of ladies of the neighborhood in for an afternoon of quilting, several Sears catalogs were put in a chair for me to sit up to the quilt and put in my few stitches. Naturally I listened to the ladies talk about their family news and also the neighborhood news. The strange thing was that none of the other ladies ever had a quilting, at least when I was at Ma’s. These same ladies were near neighbors and Ma’s dear friends. She sometmes went to visit them in afternoons when the weather was pleasant and I loved to be included. Since they were older women, there were no other children at these visits.

The nearest neighbor was Miss Mary and her husband, Eurie. They lived down the little road past Pa’s tobacco barn and past the little family graveyard. There was a big spring near their house, which was an added attraction. It was a choice place for big picnics and I loved to wade in the little creek. It was a place where rattlesnakes denned so I was never allowed to go there alone while Ma visited with Miss Mary. The thing I remember most vividly about Miss Mary was her teacakes, plain cookies, which were wonderful. I remember Ma telling me, on the way home one day, that Miss Mary had never washed her hair. I was totally amazed. She had beautiful white curly hair and it certainly didn’t look dirty. Ma explained that once, a long time ago, girls cleaned their hair and scalp with coarse meal and salt. Then after rubbing it through each strand, they wiped each strand with a clean, wet cloth. I never forgot that and each time I saw Miss Mary, I got a good look at her hair. Mr. Eurie, her solemn, quiet husband, never spoke a word. One day, in telling Ma about her daughter worrying her about making her new dress, she said that she told her, “Jest leave me alone. I jest ain’t got no notion now”.

Mr. Eurie rarely spoke and if the neighborhood phone rang, he would lift the receiver and say, “Aint nobody home to answer the phone.” One day Pa called their home to tell them a mad dog was heading their way on the little road. Mr. Eurie said that there was nobody home to answer and hung up. Pa called him back and said, “Don’t hang up, you dang old fool. There is a mad dog just about to your house”.

Just a little further down the little road was Mrs. Lula. We didn’t go to see her quite so often because it was a little too much walking for me but I remember going there. She was always hot and perspired a lot. Her hair was always hanging down in her face and I wondered if she ever combed it. I was pretty observant about the neatness of the houses and the ladies, themselves. When Ma and I walked up to the house, a dog would always come out from under the porch, barking and growling and I always thought that they would surely bite us this time. Mrs. Lula and Mr. Wynn had several grown boys and one grown daughter. She was always full of news about her children and, though it didn’t interest me, it seemed that Ma was interested in the news of the Wynns. I remember that I always kept wondering when she would bring out the cookies but alas, she never did.

Those three families lived on the little farm road behind Ma and Pa’s house but across the larger road and up on a high hill, lived another family. They were much younger than the other neighbors so they had a young family. This was Ilene and Shelby. Ilene was a beautiful woman and I just sat and admired her until I probably made her nervous. She was always smiling and had big dimples and a lovely laugh. She visited Ma more often than the other two women, probably because the trip down the hill and up another hill to Ma’s was an easy trip to her. We could see their house from our front porch so I kept abreast of the activities over there. Ilene’s mother often came by Ma’s on her way to Ilene’s to visit her daughter and I remember that she rode a fine roan horse. She was a truly beautiful woman and sometimes stopped at Ma’s for a few minutes. The thing I remember most about Ilene was that she livened up the quiltings with her laughter. Also, she was an excellent quilter.

Ma didn’t often visit her neighbors as often as she once did since she was middle-aged or past when I remember her visits but she kept in touch with all of them and they were always available to each other in times of crisis. These were good women and Ma cherished their friendship.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with questions or suggestions.
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