Last year I had the privilege of completing a quilt that began its life over 70 years ago. Maybe even 80 years.
In the mid 1940s, while visiting the woman who would become her mother-in-law, my mom was given several unfinished quilt tops. Mom thinks it was Grandma Vera’s way of bribing her to marry her son. I doubt that. Knowing all parties concerned, no bribe was needed.
Still, a stack of unfinished quilts seems an odd gift. And stranger still is this one.
Like me, Vera was a mother of sons. And she made this quilt top long before my mom came into her life, longer still until two granddaughters arrived.
I’d love to know what she was thinking as she cut and stitched, appliqued and embroidered sixteen ladies onto flour sack rectangles. Maybe it was a teenage project in anticipation of her wedding day, the hope of a future daughter. I’ll never know. She died when I was 16.
Vera was a first generation American. Her parents were born and married in Yorkshire, England, as were most of her siblings. At some point they immigrated to Seattle, Washington, where Vera was born in 1892.
Opposite Vera’s first generation status, was my grandfather’s. Papa Jim’s ancestry dates back to America’s earliest days, long before the revolution. His people braved the big ocean and settled in the new world. They withstood harsh beginnings and built a life with hard work and little provision.
It’s been an adventure digging into my father’s past and my mother’s shows a similar story. It’s amazing what detail is out there if you’re willing to search.
I love America.
In the summer of 2017, Doug and I took a six-week, cross-country road trip. It was a bucket list trip for me and I was not disappointed. Certainly you find rude people everywhere you go, but was glad to find that the exception. Instead, I found a strong, industrious and friendly group of countrymen. You got the feeling that if you didn’t agree, you could at least talk about it like grown-ups.
I wrote several posts about that trip and in one titled there is more , I said this:
I think it would be a great idea for all members of congress to take a trip every couple of years. They should have to travel the roads all around their own state for a month with a limited budget and no entourage. They should have to deal with mechanical breakdowns, getting lost and not being able to take a shower every day. They should have to talk to people, real people, and experience how their constituents live. Because honestly, they don’t know us.
And two years later, I feel less known and less represented than ever.
I believe our founding fathers did a remarkable job standing up a government and putting our constitution together. They had lived as subjects of a king without representation. They all paid a huge price for speaking out and then endured a seven year war. Each state represented at that constitutional convention was different in land mass, population and need. Fair representation would have been a paramount issue. They found a way to deal with that and come together as united states. These were sturdy individuals, not afraid to put in the work to build something that would last.
I don’t have that same good feeling about today’s very professional, very comfortable, very well paid politician. Plus, there is a growing call among them to dismantle parts of our constitution which I find greatly disturbing.
It’s easy to talk my second-guessing self out of speaking up. But I can’t do that anymore. I want to make sense and support, with solid information, what I say or write. And to that end I found free on-line classes on the Constitution, American history and so much more at Hillsdale College. This may not appeal to everyone, but I find it helpful. Aside from that, there are great books to read and many good ways to stay informed, because…
We need know our unique American history.
We need to understand how our government was designed to work.
And we need to question the endless messages broadcast daily on our television and device screens.
When I began work on my grandmother’s quilt top, I did what any serious antique quilt collector would NOT do… I washed it! (they don’t call me the cleaning lady for nothing) The fabric had become discolored over the years and I just wanted to see if it would wash out. It did. My grandmother’s steady hand and sturdy stitches prevailed.
My grandmother also made this pink and white quilt when I was a kid. It’s been thru a lot. Still alive and well. The woman did good work! You can see how tiny and even her hand quilting is.
I’m not going to show you my hand quilting. It is big and fat… but I’m learning.
And remember, you don’t need a politician, attorney, PhD, or a screaming cable news pundit to tell you what the Constitution says.
You can read it for yourself.
3 thoughts on “pieced together… how a quilt and a government hold steady”
Amen, Brooke. You inspire me.
Thank you, Sondra 😊
You were brave to wash it; but I would have too. Some of the old fabrics did not have stable dyes and bleed – for that matter, it can be a problem with new fabrics. I love the cheerful yellow you have used for the backing and binding. I hope you will use the quilt.
I’m glad you had such a good travel experience, it has been ours as well.