Joan Dorsey
Guest columnist
Without winter we wouldn’t have the beautiful spring flowers that are several weeks away. Winter gives us a chance to catch up on reading, books, magazines or even a new seed catalog. Winter evenings give most of us a perfectly good excuse to wrap a quilt around us and curl up in a nice cozy spot to watch a movie or watch the snow fall.
Recently my cousin, who has always been my nearest and the closest to my age, decided to move to Florida. She and her husband, who was my neighbor growing up, decided to go to warmer places while they were young enough to enjoy the scenery.
Sorting through all of her family heirlooms and special pieces was a huge and memorable task. I was very happy when she sent me a message and asked if I would be interested in some photos and small things which had belonged to my Grandma and Grandpa Richardson. They both died in the 60’s when I was young. Being one of a huge number of grandchildren I didn’t have any family pieces except for their 50th wedding photo.
One of the items she brought was a quilt. I love quilts. They have so many memories. I grew up with a quilt we used all the time as kids. It was a double Wedding Ring quilt. The back was yellow. The little pieces sewn together to form the pattern were pieces of cloth from our outgrown and worn out clothing. I remember being wrapped up in it when I was sick.
Looking at the pieces of cloth and knowing, well — that one was a dress my sister had worn. Another piece was a shirt that had belonged to my brother. Scraps from a maternity dress worn before my birth. Little bits of our family in small two by two squares. We all used that quilt until it fell to pieces. It had been re-bound, had patches replaced, washed and dried on a clothesline and loved.
I hadn’t really intended on using Grandma’s quilt. It is old. New bindings are needed along the edges. It appears to be appliquéd rather than pieced. The stitching on the back is secure and so neatly done.
Strangely enough after I placed it on my bed, I decided to leave it there. It is just the right weight, and it really makes me feel good.
I am afraid quilts are one of those things I just can’t part with. I have other quilts tucked safely away in a cedar chest. Someday they will go to my kids and maybe even their children.
The Gardner Museum is having a display of quilts. It is called Vintage Quilts. The display is going to be Feb. 15 – March 7. The museum is open Saturday- Tuesday this winter, 1 to 4 pm. Admission is free, but a donation is appreciated. They have two rooms of vintage quilts on display. All different methods of piecing, Postage stamp, double Wedding Ring, court house steps – which is a variation of a log cabin quilt. Even a signature quilt which has the names of the women who sat and worked together on this project, stitched into the quilt.
The Franklin County Historical Society is also having quilts on display through the end of March. The quilts can be seen in the Old Depot Museum in Ottawa. Each week has a new theme and different quilts.
Quilting brought women together for friendship and socializing. Using bits of old clothing was of the “let nothing go to waste” philosophy. These wonderful items of family history should be kept and treasured like family photos or the births and deaths recorded in the family Bible.
Put down your cup of cocoa or tea and take the trip to the museum. Then maybe head down the road to Ottawa.
On a nice sunny weekend, dig out those quilts from your attic or closet. Write down what you remember about the item, who made it, when, etc. Take some pictures of the quilt. You may have an item in your possession worth lots of money.
Most of us however will probably just have an item of family value that we will keep to treasure and pass down.