Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Learning Weekend

I spent the weekend at the Tiadaughton Quilt Guild's show. The guild is up in Williamsport, and when I do this one, I stay with my Aunt Ellen, one of my father's 6 brothers and sisters, who lives nearby in Jersey Shore. (Which, for those of you non-Pennsylvanians who are now confused, is nowhere near New Jersey. It is a little town in the mountains of PA.)

My father's mother was a quilter, and my aunt is also a quilter. (Come to think of it, I guess I am too.)

I worked all day at the show, but Aunt Ellen and I got a few evenings together.

Friday night we talked. We're related that way: we can both talk.

Then we had a good time on Saturday evening going through my grandmother's trunk. My aunt had never gone through it before. I suspect we spent way too much time on it and that this tuckered her out--but I kept pulling stuff out because she kept egging me on.

My grandparents have both been gone a long time now, but grandma saved a lot of things, and I am glad she did. It was interesting to see things like her high-school flag:

(That flag is from the West Branch Iowa High School.)

A doily I'm sure she made:

And a child's apron that must have belonged to her with that "M" (for Maud) on the pocket and the tatting around the edge:

And a bunch of pictures. I was particularly interested in this picture of her with her two sisters (grandma is on lower left; I think I kinda look like her):

And I love this picture of my grandmother's uncle (left) and grandfather (right), who was a Civil War vet (yup, a Yankee):

The Civil War is only 5 generations behind me. That's not really so long ago.

But the whole reason we looked at all this stuff in the first place was to see my grandmother's wedding dress.

The story of the wedding is interesting. My grandmother had been working in the Treasury Department at the Smithsonian Institution (which is probably as good a place as any for the Treasury Department to be):

...and apparently got word that her best friend Jessie, who was married to Clarence Spencer, had died.

Jessie's father implored my grandmother to come and marry Clarence, to raise the two children of that marriage.

My grandmother said that if he was good enough for Jessie, then he was good enough for her, so she went north to the dairy farm near Canton, PA, and they got married. I'm not sure of the exact year offhand.

I am sure from looking at it that she made her dress. This dress was originally longer, but my grandmother modified it into a fancy short dress for my Aunt Ellen when she was a girl. (My grandmother as an adult was approximately the size of a 5th-grader. I thought of her as small even as a young child.) I can envision this dress long and think it would have been gorgeous. And I'm all over the light pink.

Here's a closeup of that lace:

Thanks, grandma, for keeping your dress so I could see it.


Where was I? Ah, yes. I was at a quilting show. The show was wonderful, but I would like to talk here about my aunt's quilting, since that's where I was. Aunt Ellen's eyes and arms have gotten worse over the past few years so she can't really use her sewing machine, so her solution to this is:

to hand piece.

I love people who won't let anything stop them.

This wonderful lighthouse quilt of hers was in the show this year:

Don't you love the scrappy dimensional blues and whites together?

Last year when I was there, she had just started it.

This year, when I got to her house, she was working on a chicken quilt. I wasn't permitted to take a photo of it since it wasn't finished, but let me just explain that there were chickens all over that quilt.

Aunt Ellen, I know you read this blog. Let me just say that I want to see some finished chickens next year when I come back!


DKerr said...

Thank you. This story was delightful. And now I know why we almost had dinner together at Rustling Oaks. :)

Cindy in Happy Valley said...

Oh Cynthia, that wedding dress is gorgeous. Is there any way to preserve and display it? What an art piece!

Abbey said...

I really enjoyed this entry. I am rather sentimental and I love history. I love looking at old things and thinking about the people they belonged to and what they went through at that time period. I have all the old pictures of my grand parents and early ancestors that everyone wanted to throw out. I just couldn't bare it. I tend to want to hang onto things because I think if Ella or her kids or her kids' kids are anything like me they will love going through my old artifacts and thinking about me and the "simpler" time I lived in. The dress is beautiful as are the pictures and the quilt. Thanks for sharing!