Friday, May 27, 2011

Memories in the Closet

I know it's not polite to go through other people's closets. However, it's a practice you may want to adopt.

A few years ago, I visited a friend over Memorial Day weekend. We were invited to dinner by his golfing buddy and his wife, named Ann. Ann is a quilter, so we had lots to talk about. She gave me a tour of her fabric stash, machines, equipment, and books. Her quilting supplies were housed in the spare bedroom, 1/2 the sun porch and part of the living room. Ann's number one complaint-- not enough room for quilting. Doesn't that sound familiar?

We were just about done with the tour when her husband suggested that she show me the "postcards." Ann rummaged around in a closet for a while and came out with a bundle wrapped in an old tablecloth. When she unfolded the contents. I couldn't believe my eyes. Inside was what appeared to be a patchwork quilt -- but it was actually 144 picture postcards, crocheted together and bound with delicate silk tassels.

The postcards had been written to Ann's mother by her father during WWI. Ann's parents both lived in Italy and her father sent the cards while he was in the army--until he was captured by the Austrians and put in a prisoner-of-war camp. The pictures were fascinating and in pristine condition. On the back of every card was a message to her mother from her father. After, we viewed the postcard "quilt",  Ann carefully wrapped it up and put it back into the closet, someday to go to her daughter.

When we returned to my friends house, I happened to glance at the top shelf of his closet. There, wrapped in an old sheet, was what appeared to be a crazy quilt. He brought it out for me and again, I was astounded. The old family quilt was dated 1874. It had suffered the fate of many old crazy quilts. The silk was shattered and it had obviously been well used over the years. However, the embroidery was still intact and the quiltmaker's story was still there to decipher. We carefully wrapped the quilt in its sheet and put it back into the closet.

The moral of this story? While some people may keep skeletons in their closets, I bet far more of us keep precious memories. 


Anonymous said...

Beautiful story. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

very good story but it would be great if the quilts were out in plain view to enjoy them

Diana said...

Photos to enjoy and good care to preserve the originals - you were a very fortunate person to have seen these treasures.

Anonymous said...

I recently received a quilt from my aunt that has 1875 embroidered in the corner. The silk is shot but it has a couple of very interesting things in it. One is embroidery done with wire and it also has 2 photos in it. This used to hang in my grandmothers house and I believe it was done by her grandmother. It is hanging in my house now and the embroidery is just fine, but I worry about it's fragility and how to keep it over time.

Kim said...

Wonderful story, we should all be so lucky to have treasures like that.

Dianne said...

I loved this story as I too have many hidden 'treasures', too fragile for everyday life to endure if I want to pass them down. It's good to see that others appreciate the history and respect the fact that special care is crucial for these items to last. Pictures do not compare to the tactile sensation of the real piece. However, photos and a written or verbal recording kept in proper storage is a great idea.

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