Staying inside today has prompted a memory to share with you. A few years ago my Aunt E. was cleaning out her barn, and she thought to give me a big plastic bag full of cloth scraps that had belonged to my Grandma. My Dad's parents lived next door to us, so we were really close to them when we were kids. Grandma died when I was 12 and Grandpa when I was 14. I miss them so!
It looked like a bunch of rags to me until I started to dig through it. There was a slight scent of mildew, but not much damage. I started to take things out of the bag and stack them up around me. There was some yucky old quilt batting and some gauzy stuff, not attractive then, but now I'd think of something to do with it. I started to see colors-my next handful was scraps of the most adorable vintage cottons. I kept pulling them out. There were triangles, squares and even a butterfly. Grandma had planned a quilt!
Farther into the bag I found the unfinished bodice of a sweet little girl's dress. Had she been making it for me? Then there was some really pretty orchid satin and tulle trimmed from the bottom of a gown. By then I was getting teary-eyed. My Grandma had died in September, and for Christmas that year, we all got gifts that she had wrapped for us before she died. Since I loved the color purple in any form, she had given me a string of collected purple buttons and some purple ribbon. Had she saved this orchid fabric for me?
Grandma was an Olde Yankee (my term) from way back. She was born and brought up in northern Vermont. She came to Massachusetts to work in the mills and met my Grandpa. She never had much and never wanted more. She raised 5 boys and one girl and had a bright sunny disposition. She loved to entertain her friends and family. The old farmhouse had been in Grandpa's family since pre-history (late 1600's or early 1700's). She never quite kept on top of the housework--my younger uncles were rough and tumble farmboys, not the easiest to clean up after!
That's my Dad on the left. He would have been 83 this year.
We kids loved to go over there after school. Grandma made each of us feel special. I often played with her sewing things. Her old button tin gave me hours of enjoyment. She had some beautiful old dolls I played with-she'd help me piece together doll clothes for them. She was always cutting up old clothes, many donated by church ladies, to make yoyos, which she strung into clowns for the kids or the church fair. She'd have me cut up nylon stockings to make filling for the clown heads. My brother Richard would gather the punky apples from the orchard and he and Grandma would cut out the worms and make apple pies. Jimmy usually liked to hang out in the barn with the uncles and their friends, often coming home with new swear words and interesting facts of life. If Grandpa could pin the boys down he'd give them buzz cuts with his electric clippers, singing the whole time. As you can imagine, we hated to be called away for supper.
In the bottom of the scrap bag I found some pieced together quilt squares. Not really pretty, maybe made with old mensware. And there was some yardage of a pretty rose fabric with sweet little flowers on it. That scrap bag brought back so many memories! I had a good cry, but it made me feel like she was there! Her unconditional love reached down through the decades to me here in my living room.
I have the dolls now and I have a penchant for collecting old sewing supplies. I buy jars of buttons at yard sales, just to poke through. I have Grandma's mother's sewing table too. So it goes back another generation. I don't have a daughter, but I try to impart these stories and feelings to my dear niece, who lives next door. She comes over here every day or two to do crafts and tell me about her days. We have reading contests and share ITunes on my computer. She's also very close to her Grandma, my Mom, who tells her stories while getting out the art supplies. She hangs her art all over the refrigerator.
I live in a neighboring town, next to a small river, in an old post and beam barn-like structure that used to be a hardware/builders supply store. Across the street is an old mill that used to run on hydro power from the river's flow. Another building across the river is filled with old machinery and belts that harnessed the power of the moving water. It was a booming business in this little town. My grandpa and my Dad shopped here when they needed to build something. Grandpa made gutter hooks at a little forge in the old corncrib and put them into barrels and shipped them out to the hardware stores. I keep finding them around here. The past combines with the present in many ways, and just like the river flooding its way by me, life keeps rolling on. I love that!
Happy Spring everyone! Take time to remember the good things.