A Hellacious Belle’s Guide to the New South: It’s All in the Quilting

Quilts are such a huge memory from my childhood.  They were bright and cheerful, warm and comforting and always smelled like sunshine from being line-dried in the back yard.

"Postage Stamp" pattern quilt made my my Grandmother, Norma Ferguson Pass and my Great Grandmother, Pearl James McCormick.

“Postage Stamp” pattern quilt made my my Grandmother, Norma Ferguson Pass and my Great-Grandmother, Pearl James McCormick.

My grandmother’s house was small but always overflowed with family and guests during the holidays. Us young’uns (grandkids) always slept on and under a pile of quilt “pallets” on the floor, leaving the real beds to the grown ups.

I have two quilts left as a legacy from my beloved Granny.  One was carefully preserved (read: kept packed away and not given to me until I was 40 and somewhat responsible) and the other I have had since I was 6 or 7 and allowed to “love” all to pieces.

This is my ragged and abused favorite quilt from childhood.  I adored it because it had bright flowers and pink fringe on one side and tiny cars on the other.

This is my ragged and abused favorite quilt from childhood. I adored it because it had bright flowers and pink fringe on one side and tiny cars on the other.

I couldn’t find any pictures of the really beautiful quilts I know that my family owned, but in a moment of inspiration, I emailed my Aunt Shirley Roland Ferguson (who is actually our “famous” family author and ad hoc keeper of lore, legend and passed down goodies.)

My darling Auntie was quick to respond with some lovely photos, but dashed my hazy memories of Granny whipping up artistic quilts in her spare time.

“I don’t think Granny ever did much quilting. Her energies were in cleaning and keeping a pretty home, cooking her fabulous meals and working in the yard.”

A quilt made by Granny Roland

A quilt made by Nell Roland

Aunt Shirley went on to reminisce about her own Mom, Nell Roland.

“My mom was allergic to manual labor I think. Her food was just adequate and she never had leftovers. But she loved being creative with her hands. She and my Granny crocheted doilies and tablecloths in the evenings while they listed to programs on the radio during WWII. My dad worked long hours at a defense job at the Birmingham airport repairing radios in bombers. And mother made all our clothes, stopping through town for material after working all day as a nurse.  She rode three buses to get home.
Aunt Shirley's family quilt

One of Aunt Shirley’s family quilts

As children we played under her quilting frames while she and the church ladies quilted. She tried to teach me but I was impatient. And when she asked my aunt if she would like to learn, Aunt Ina said,”‘Nell, I’d rather try to pick out hickory nuts with a toothpick!'”

Another of Granny Roland's quilts

Another of Granny Roland’s quilts

Reading Aunt Shirley’s words, I  drifted back a moment in time, to my earliest memories of my Granny’s quilts, a long-ago Christmas eve.  I was maybe 4-years old or so, tucked into a pallet next to my parent’s bed, snuggled like a bug in a mountain of rugs, fighting sleep, straining so hard to hear above the talk and laughter of the adults in the next room, the sound of reindeer hooves on the roof that my older cousins swore meant Santa was on his way.

And just like the brightly hued quilts I once cuddled around my younger body, I happily gather my Aunt’s words around me now while I write, for a moment enveloped, once again, in my Granny’s love.

“Blankets wrap you in warmth, quilts wrap you in love.”
– unknown

Q

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5 thoughts on “A Hellacious Belle’s Guide to the New South: It’s All in the Quilting

  1. I have quilts that my mother and others before her worked on and made, but they are so worn and frayed from years and years of use and years of neglect. I’d love to find someone who would lovingly restore them for me, without charging me a small fortune. I have the same memory’s of quilt pallets and strange, plump, creaky beds weighted down with quilts.
    Visit me at: Life & Faith in Caneyhead
    I am Ensign B of Tremps’ Troops
    with the A to Z Challenge

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A delightful post. Your reminiscences brought about by these lovely quilts were full of warmth and love. I found myself taken back to my own childhood and similar times with my own grandmothers. My mother and grandmother were always sewing, knitting or crocheting something. And my mum made all the summer dresses for me and my four sisters – all in the same material – so all very embarrassing 🙂

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  3. I have to say I am absolutely amazed of people who can make quilts. It takes a real talent to see imagine and see a quilt through completion.

    Stephen Tremp
    A to Z Co-host
    R is for Reincarnation

    Like

    • A tons of detail work…tiny, tiny stitches! I know for my family (and a lot of quilters) it is (and was) a social occasion. They get a bunch of people together, knock it out in one session (or a few) and their fun and camaraderie from the experience “go into” the quilt as well!

      Like

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