Friday, January 9, 2009

Strange Inheritance

My little sister showed up the other night with a garbage bag full of quilt tops she acquired in some mysterious process of family wrangling the last time she was in Beaumont. She was asking me if I wanted these, since I was probably the only one who wouldn't "just throw them away." Ack. YES PLEASE DON'T THROW THOSE AWAY!

That's probably not exactly true since no one in my family every really throws anything away. The generational packratting, as well as the family tradition of bypassing housecleaning by simply swapping houses every 10 to 20 years, ensures that nothing will every be thrown away, and we will all drive to heaven in our fleet of pristine Cutlass Sierras (pristine other than the overflowing ash trays and the empty Pearl cans in the back).

Anyway, moving on from my family mythology, these meticulously pieced quilt tops are from my great aunt Bonita Hightower, who got her BA from Columbia in 1920 something, probably took her librarian classes from MELVILLE DEWEY (since they were there at the same time) and then for some bizarre reason moved back to Beaumont Texas and started sewing her own lingerie. I remember a few things about Aunt Nita- her house was always dark, she kept a big crystal vase full of hard candy for her great nieces (we just lived three houses down- like I said- family house swap) and she didn't mind us picking up all her little bird knick knacks. She also let me borrow her husbands truly monumental rare shell collection for a school project in 4th grade. I -may- have tried to pass some of those shells off as ones -I- had found at the beach on High Island. Gosh I wonder if anyone saw through that...

I cannot hope to match her standard of quilting, even with all the delicate piecing done for me, but I hope to be able to put some time into finishing these quilts this year anyway. The star quilt is terrifying to think of working on, but relatively undamaged. The KKK quilt on the bottom (I don't -think- Aunt Nita was affiliated with the KKK?) has some tearing and some staining, but I should be able to repair it -very carefully-. And the little star blocks are so lovely. I can see what she meant them to be- I hope I can find some blue fabric to match the rows she has on there already.

Who knows when or why she stopped working on these. Arthritis, boredom, sudden death... The star top has lots of men's shirting material, and her husband had been dead for a while before I was born, so maybe that one is -really- old. They all need a good gentle wash.

I feel really happy to have had these passed on to me. Who knows what else we'll find as the century long game of musical houses winds down in the next few decades. Or perhaps Anne and I will be overcome with a sudden genetic urge to move to 2710, and 2720 N 10th St. We'll save 2730 (Aunt Nita's house) for any close friends or household help. 2675, or "the dower house," as it's known, is traditionally held for ex spouses, which I hope Anne and I will never have. However, I also hope I never live in Beaumont again, so this whole thing is moot.

Anyway. Awesome quilts! 2009 is off to a promising start!

1 comment:

rachel said...

i just imploded.