Graphic This And That

Saturday, I ventured to the Fiber Arts Guild's fabric sale. My main reason was to see the beautiful creations done by local artists. Oh….if only I had the time to create my own quilt.

Not mind you, it's been years since I picked up a needle to help my mom and her elderly cousin, Lizzy, quilt. However, seeing all that fabric almost … almost made me dust off and fire up my very, very old Singer sewing machine (circ. 1940) … that only sews a straight stitch.

I was introduced to quilting by hand when my siblings and I had to attend religious education classes on Saturday morning. Mother would sneak over to Lizzy’s house to help her quilt one of their many, many projects.

They'd listen to the radio as they'd hover over the quilt, placing the smallest of stitches to bind the quilt together.

After religion class, Lizzy would invite me to pick up a needle and stitch. My stitches were never very good. I had a sneaking suspicion Lizzy pulled them out and redid them after I left. Yet, she'd never complain about my horrible stitches; instead, she'd always compliment me on picking up a needle to help.

My mother and Lizzy always used scraps from sewing for their quilts. Pictured in those homemade quilts were the fabrics from one of the many dresses and outfits my mom sewed for my grandmother as well as my sister and me.

Mom always was saving her fabric scraps. It didn’t matter if the scraps were four or five years old. She just got it out her stash and cut it up for her and her Lizzy’s next quilt.

The stash took its place in a dark storage closet in our farmhouse. It was left in the dark most of the time because it didn't have a life.

But in a quilt, it was given life again. When one of their quilts was finished, it was like it could whisper a story to you.

Come to think of it, I don’t think my mother ever went out to buy quilting fabric in her entire life. During the winter months, she’d visit her “stash” and find fabrics that work together to make a quilt. And if they didn’t … she’d make a Crazy quilt, where not of the pieces matched.

She once told me that you don’t have to make a conventionally accepted quilt that lines up nice and neat. And you don’t have to bind them well, either. It’s your quilt and you can do whatever you want.

You can stop working on it anytime if you really hate it. You can applique words on it or print words on it. You can make a quilt with all the colors in the world or just two. And … you don’t need a pattern – create your own if you want.

Mom would often remind me everyone’s got a quilt inside them … it just hasn’t come out yet.

So maybe I do have a quilt in me … if only I could find the time.

•••

While today’s column focuses on remembering the days of yore, I decided to recall a few more memories of my own.

I call this next portion of my column: Do you remember when …? It is derived from an aged yellow clipping sent to me a long time ago by one of my first editors.

• The television had to warm up before it would work.

• Kids got home from school, and mom was at home waiting with a plate of warm cookies and milk.

• Everyone’s dog was a mutt; nobody owned a purebred dog.

• There wasn’t such a thing as an allowance for doing work around the farm or house. Providing you with three square meals a day and clothes on your back, were your allowance.

• Mom wore nylons that came in two pieces.

• All your male teachers wore shirts and neckties; female teachers wore dresses and heels.

• You pulled up to a filling station (Midwest term for a gas station) and got your windshield cleaned, oil checked, tire pressure checked, and gas pumped, without asking. It was free, every time. Plus, you got trading stamps to boot.

• Laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes, or towels hidden inside the box.

• It was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner at a real restaurant with your parents.

• Schools threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed ... and they did.

• No one ever asked where the car keys were because they were always in the car, in the ignition, and the doors were never locked.

• Lying on your back in the grass with your friends and saying things like, “That cloud looks like a ...”

• Playing baseball with no adults to help kids with the rules of the game, and you settled your differences without the help of adults.

• Being sent to the principal’s office was nothing compared to the fate that waited at home.

• Calling home meant that you had to find a pay phone on the street corner to use.

• A penny really could buy several pieces of candy.

Yet with all the progress in our lives during the past few decades, don’t you just wish, just once, you could slip back in time and savor a slower pace and share it with the children of today?

I know there are days when I do.