This week I want to share a very special piece of fabric that contains lots of yellow. Thanks to Keetha from the blog "The Eclectic Company" for jogging my memory about this very special item. Keetha had a contest going on at her blog to give a name to "The Grand Old Dame" a life sized doll that will become the mascot of her blog. My suggestion included the story of my maternal grandmother, and reminded me that I had started to write a MYM post some months ago that was placed on hold and forgotten until now.
My entry for this week is a quilt top that was made by my mother's step mother Annie French, and given to her for her high school graduation present. Once Annie married my grandfather she became the step mother of six children. My mother was the youngest and Annie was the only mother she ever knew. Mom's mother died in childbirth when she was two. Annie was an accomplished seamstress and made clothing for every member of the family. This was in the deep south during the great depression and nothing was allowed to go to waste. Therefore, the quilt top was made from scraps of leftover fabrics and from the worn out or outgrown clothing of the children. Life and circumstance prevented Annie from ever getting the quilt top turned into a finished quilt but she had high hopes that my mother would see that the job was finished. But, my mother was more a Tomboy than a home body so the quilt top was packed away and mostly forgotten about.
I can remember, as a child, seeing the brightly colored fabric in the cedar chest at the foot of my parent's bed stored away with all the important papers and family photos. I also remember us kids digging it out on occasion to play with. It was everything from superman's cape to the blanket that covered up our dollies when we pushed them in our toy strollers. All that play time left the quilt top in pretty sad condition.
When my Youngest sister graduated from collage (she was the only girl to do so) my mother gave her the quilt top saying that it was only fitting that she should have it because it was Mom's graduation present and Veda was graduating. A few years ago, my sister cleaned up the old fabric and divided it into five pieces. She framed each piece into old salvaged windows. She gave my mother and each of her sisters a window for christmas keeping one for herself.
I did not want to hurt my sisters feelings but that shabby chic look of the old window was just not my style so I transfered my piece of the quilt into a modern low profile frame (bottom right in the collage) and it hangs on the wall in our bedroom. The brown frame hangs above my Mother's bed. I photographed the other two windows hanging in the living rooms of my youngest sisters. My oldest sister has been living the RV lifestyle for a while now so I know she has no room to display hers. She did mention once that she was thinking about having someone actually quilt her section and turn it into several pillows that she could share with her daughters.
*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*Now as Paul Harvey would say, "Here is the rest of the story."
Annie Mae French was my mother's step-mother. She was a very proper southern lady who had it all in her youth. Parents that came from old money and gave her the best of everything. She had the best finishing school education. She married well but never had any children. She attended all the best parties, traveled the world, was on the board of a hospital and several charities. Her name often appeared in the society columns.
Her husband left her for a younger woman and after the stock market crash of 1929, she found her fortunes reversed. To save her life style and her home, this middle age woman, married a backwoods cotton farmer with six children. The older children never took to her and made her life as miserable as they could. My mother was only five and Annie was the only mother she ever new. She was also the only child to maintain contact with Annie after their father died, and she did it despite the complaints of her brothers and sisters.
I am the oldest of thirteen children and the only one that ever new Annie. When I got married in 1966 Annie was already and old lady. She was concerned that when she died all of the things she had that pertained to my mothers family would be destroyed because no one in her current life would know who or what they were. So for my wedding gift she sent all of those items to me. There were lots of family photos, a few letters and some handmade needlework, all properly labeled so that I would know the story behind each item. From that time until her death some twenty years later (when Annie was well into her nineties) we corresponded on a regular schedule. She never forgot a birthday. Wrote me long letters full of past family history and small town gossip.
The last time I saw Annie was about a year before she died and she was still keeping up appearances as best she could. She lived in her large house that set on a corner lot in what was then a small southern town. The house had a large southern style wrap-around porch with large columns she called a veranda. The house appeared perfect from the street but the other sides had not seen a coat of paint in twenty years. She served us a proper english tea on the large front veranda but would not invite us inside the house. She was dressed to the nines in crisp starched white linen and lace with her hair perfectly arranged. Both the outfit and her hair style were long out of style. During out visit she corrected my english, reminded me to sit up straight and was in general stern and very formal, and I adored her. I have never known anyone else like her.