Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring Flooding and Lovely Memories

It's raining. Last night it tried to turn into snow, but rain won out. The river out my window is high, though not a threat.  I love spring rain. It turns the grass green and starts the bulbs growing. That yucky brown thing I call a garden will soon be up and blooming!

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.


  1. *sigh* How lucky you are to have had a grandma like that. And how lucky your niece is to have you to share all that wonderfulness.
    What is it with girls and buttons, I'd love to know. Is it the fact that like a woman has to hold so much together, so does a button? I don't know. I do know that the post was beautiful and I certainly enjoyed reading it.
    Enjoy your treasures, they sure are prescious!! Thanks for sharing this with us.

  2. Thanks for sharing this lovely story, and photoes of found treasures, it must have been wonderfull to find them again,and have the possibility to create from the past, something new today, and even bringing, the close connection to your grandmother, into it.

    Hugs, Dorthe

  3. Thank you for sharing the warm fabric of your family's life! You write beautifully! I look forward to your next post. I bet she was saving the orchid fabric for you!
    My mother made quilts before she had four babies, that is. I grew up under one of them. I chose a new favorite patch each day.
    I once bought a box of quilt squares at a yard sale in Grove City, PA. The fabrics were from the 40's. I played with these til I found a way to put them together into a quilt. (You've seen this quilt). Will you be quilting?

  4. I have sweet memories of my Great-Grandmother and Grandmother, but you have discovered buried treasure - finding the fabrics your Grandma was working with along with some of her unfinished projects. Lovely, sweet treasures!!!

  5. What a sweet story about your Grandmother.
    I think she was saving that purple fabric for you.
    It's so wonderful that you got the bag of fabric scraps and maybe one day you will put them all together in a memory quilt.


  6. What a beuatiful story about your Grandma. It brought tears to my eyes. It's so wonderful that you have some of her treasures!

    I love the Spring rain too - It poured here Friday night and it was the sweetest sound. Spring is around the corner!

  7. This is such a nice post and such beautiful photos, I like the way you found the makings of a doll dress and wondered if it was for you. My grandma used to make our dolls' clothes...I wonder where they are now. I like your new header photo.


  8. Sherry,

    I so love to hear your stories, I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't read very many books. With 3 kids I just don't have the time, but your blog for me is like a little novela. I can close my eyes & see you sorting through your Grandmas buttons. I can see the bodice too, I'll bet it was to be a gift for you. The fabrics & tatting make me swoon. I'm adding you to my blogroll, should have done that ages ago. Lisa

  9. Wonderful memoires of days gone past, and many hidden treasures in that bag. You are so lucky it was'nt just thrown out long ago.
    I had a wonderful grandma too but all I have of her's is a crochet knee blanket and lots of memoires.Thanks for sharing.Rina

  10. What a wonderful post. I love hearing about your family and the times you spent together. Your grandma's fabrics are just gorgeous and look very bright and fresh. Will you do something with them?

    Your friend,

    P.S. Your father looked like a handsome kid!

  11. What a beautiful memory...are you gonna make something with them?

  12. I've just been fortunate enough to stumble upon your wonderful blog. The post on making maple syrup is one that I will share with my non-blogger husband. We both love maple syrup and always have it on hand. Our new daughter-in-law is from Massachusetts and we are discovering New England through her eyes. We look forward to more travel there. I will "visit" your blog often to learn more as well.


  13. Such wonderful family history and memories! How lovely to have found the bag of fabric bits. And what a treasured memory to know that your grandma thought about you all so far in advance of Christmas. Thanks for sharing! The color combinations in all those bits and pieces is absolutely fantastic. Many blessings, Tammy

  14. Such a lovely story that brought back wonderful memories of my own Grandmother...we are blessed, truly, deeply, blessed to have such strong roots that hold us solidly to the ground. Thank you for the memories.

  15. What a beautiful story. That is one of reasons I so enjoy blogging. I get to share in the good memories of another person's past, and find that their memories mirror mine, more times than not. That scrap bag would have meant more to me than any priceless silver do you put a price on a family memory treasure.... Thank you Sherry for taking the time to share this.

  16. Oh, what a lovely post! Love your new header as well.;)
    I am back after a weeks break and I so enjoyed reading about about your family history, about sewing, about fabrics and all complimented by lovely pictures.
    I hope you are having a lovely Sunday, here spring is finally in the air.;))


Please stop in and say Hello ~ I love to hear from you, my friends!