Followers

5/05/2014

Family Reunion

Welcome & today I'll share a few pictures of yesterday's family reunion (promise...no people pictures!). It was such a glorious day, and unfortunately our host cousins decided to have the gathering at the old family church Fellowship Hall. I was disappointed, but I certainly understood that it was easier on them. When it's held at The Home Place - as previously done in nice weather - they have all the work of setting up tables, chairs, etc. At the Fellowship Hall, all the tables are already arranged by the church crew, and all that needs be done, is put out the food, and then tidy up when we are done. We still had a good time, and of course we visited the cemetery to hunt for loved ones. That used to bother me a bit, but my parents have been gone for 18 years now, so it's not so emotional for me. Usually. And it's always interesting to go find sites of other relatives not so closely linked to me. My great-great grandparents are there, my great grandmother and of course my Dad's parents & one of  his brothers are sleeping right behind the church walls. My husband always thinks we ought not to 'be morbid' as he puts it, but to me, it's just a visit to say Hello and hope somehow that they know they are always in my heart. As one of my cousins who refuses to do this, reminded me "They are not THERE". Well, I know that!


I've always thought this was a very old-fashioned looking church. When it was first built, in mid-1800's I think - it was white clapboard. Since there were graves from the 1700's, there must have been an earlier building too.  Over time, as the congregation increased (and collection plates were more generous!) - the church fa├žade was bricked. Only the center portion was the original church. I can remember when it was just that part, but only have seen pictures of when it was wooden. Again over time, wings were added as the congregation grew. It's very peaceful in the interior with some lovely stained glass windows. When the Fellowship Hall was being remodeled & enlarged, church members found a beautiful old stained glass window that had originally been over the altar. I'm not sure what final decision was made on how best to place this memorabilia where it could be best enjoyed. You can see the blue sky, how green the trees are, and I was standing out in the grove of very old trees that are in front of this church, to take the pictures. (see the shadows on the asphalt). At one time, the doors would be open so visitors could come inside, say a prayer or whatever. Sadly, that's no longer possible. There's a wonderful steeple with a cross at the top of the main portion.

This view shows the wonderful trees that surround the back edges of the cemetery. At the very back, there is a wood, with a dirt path that goes back to the Home Place. My grandparents walked that path to attend church, as did my brothers  when they were young lads at the farm with Grandma.  Some of the headstones are circa 1700's. It is heartbreaking to see so many tiny stones of children & read their ages if the inscription is readable. High infant & child mortality in those days. There are lots of unmarked graves in the center of the cemetery, where the stones were of some soft blue-gray slate type material. I can remember those looking so tipsy & crooked when I was a very young child, tagging along when Daddy took his Mother to clean the graves on Memorial Day. (probably a Southern thing.) Now I think professional crews do this type of thing, but back in the late 40's, that was done by relatives.  Over time these stones had eroded and fallen down. Since the area is maintained by a crew it became too labor intensive to care for the areas where these stones were, so they were removed. The church records keep the names of those buried there (but not all, according to my cousin. Some of the stones were totally illegible and records were not so complete for that time period).The area is a cleared grassy spot so as to be easily mowed & clipped. There is a small in-ground memorial stone for a marker. Most visitors know the story, so one does not just walk across this area. Another area has been turned into a memorial site for deceased members of this church who were veterans. Time didn't allow us to visit that, but I understand it is a memorial plaque with names, pertinent dates & service branch. Cemetaries can be quite depressing I realize, but we have visited some really old ones in our travels, and I've always thought this particular one is quite peaceful. Even when there's no one I love resting therein, I've always found it interesting to see the old stones, read the dates and the inscriptions.

My cousin who hosted the reunion, is a quilter. We come from a family that had lots of quilters. I used to be a quilter! (Translation: I bought fabric as I now buy stamping supplies). I pieced some tops, but only ever finished quilting some throws, nothing bed-sized.  Cousin P.  knows I love old quilts. She brought over one that she has which was a marriage gift to her mother (my Dad's baby sister). All the family quilters gathered at a quilting bee, and each prepared a block. They chose the pattern, fabric and signed their names,  then embroidered the signature. I found the block Mama had done, (got a little choked up as I was looking at the photo just now), as well as the center block, (Mother) done by my Grandmother. I think my aunt married in 1936. Most of the fabrics used were from feed sacks. In case you may not know that meaning: Farmers long ago, bought grain, flour, seed - in sacks that were made of very pretty calico prints. As a USA quilter, I know the value of feed sack material (and I can usually tell if it's 'real' or a reproduction too!). I knew that the fabrics in this quilt were real & had been washed to remove all the original 'stuff' that may have been in the material - probably using a washboard & tub outside, over a fire. The quilt backing still had the faded logo in places. Someone apparently had dyed all the backing fabric used to be a single color of what was perhaps a tan color. Over time, it's patina'd into something that looks like a coffee stain brown.

Mama's block, top right
 
 
Grandma's Block for her daughter's wedding quilt
 
 
 
As we were taking pictures, I realized all of us were using flash, and said "Wait! Everybody, set your flash off. Light is really bad for an old quilt like this". So that's why the color on this picture is not so nice as the 2 above. I asked my cousin how she is storing this treasure. She said "Oh I have it hanging over a door". Since I was already fighting with myself not to covet, I then had to zip it to not offer proper storage advice on old fragile quilts.  Her quilt -- her choice as to how she cares for it. And she's a quilter, so she knows more than I do about antique quilts! *
 
*Forgot to mention. The edges of the quilt had become raggedy as it was used for warmth, not just for looks. Cousin P. added a new binding, which of course would devalue this for a collector. For us it's a family heirloom, which is priceless.
 
One amusing reunion story: I sat with my brothers & their wives, and my husband at one end of a table. A fella that I knew was a cousin of some sort - and I knew exactly which family he belonged to - sat across from me. We chatted, but I could not think of his name. I knew that he was one of my late 1st cousin's boys, and I knew which one he was not! (the 2 that I could remember are deceased). But I couldn't think of his name to save my life. I'm pretty sure he didn't know me either, but he knew I belonged with the 2 fellas (my brothers) that he did know!! It's really strange to think I attended these reunions as a kid, and now my generation is the OLDER generation. I expect when our group of cousins are gone, this event will cease. A shame, because it's a lovely way to enjoy old family memories. And we did. Some laughing & happy, some not so much.
 
Hope I haven't bored you to tears! Thanks for visiting and letting me reminisce (I had to look up the spelling of that one!!!) Hugs. Happy afternoon.
 

26 comments:

Benzi said...

This is a wonderful post, Mary. At reunions, there are so many memories to reflect upon and you're also making them. How wonderful for your cousin to have that very special quilt. That's a very pretty picture of the church. When you talked about your grandparents and brothers walking to the church, for some reason, a picture of the Walton's came into my mind....and it was a good one. I can see them walking that road they always took into town. I love old churches and have a few on my Pinterest boards. I try to get photos when I run across really old churches in my travels.

Thanks for sharing your family reunion with us.

Irish Cherokee said...

Sounds like you had a good time. I'm glad you did.

Blessings
Jim

Lisa said...

It sounds like such a wonderful day, Mary!! My family hasn't had a reunion in years and years. I was little so I don't remember much about it. Looking at the beautiful quilts reminded me of one a relative just brought to my Dad that had all the names of his side of the family stitched on it. The craftsmanship is remarkable!! I had quilters on both sides of the family so we have a few beautiful ones carefully put away. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!! Have a great evening :)

Lisa
A Mermaid's Crafts

Bonnie said...

I enjoyed seeing the church and your stories of family! And isn't that quilt a treasure!

Carol L said...

I'm glad you enjoyed a wonderful day with family and loved ones! What wonderful quilt photos too! My grandmother quilted and crocheted, so there are many priceless treasures she left behind for us to marvel over!

Diane said...

Wonderful post and pictures Mary, what a lovely time.

Hugs diane

scrappymo! said...

Wonderful post,Mary! I enjoyed your trip down memory land and seeing the blocks your Mum and Grandma quilted! The church has a very peaceful setting.

Rita said...

What a lovely story Mary. The church itself looks beautiful and a lovely idea for a reunion. The quilt is really quite something as probably it would be all done by hand. Nowadays most people use a sewing machine. Thank you for sharing your lovely day. Hugs Rita xxx

Shona Erlenborn said...

What a wonderful story! Loved hearing about the church and seeing the pictures. My MIL is an avid quilter and has had her quilts on display in museums at times. We have several gracing our walls and beds!! I don't think any are nearly as old as the one in the picture though. What a family treasure, for sure. I would love to have a family reunion like this, try to keep up the tradition, it would be such a shame if that died.

Hazel said...

Mary you are so lucky to have a reunion like this, Patricia and I tried for a few years just to get the family to meet up once a year, it worked for about twice but with members having to work it just didn't work out, it's a pity but that's modern life. You seem to have had a lovely day. Your family quilt is a treasure and it is a pity it isn't being stored right. As you say it's her quilt so it's her place to know better. Hazel xx

Sarah said...

Sounds like a wonderful get together Mary and what a quilt!! xx

Pippa said...

It's great to keep traditions going in families. I do not really know my cousins or aunts not having seen any of them for years but our immediate family try to get together at least at Christmas if not during the rest of the year. Love the quilt and hope it remains in the family for many years to come.

dutchess said...

great to read your trip down memory lane Mary....you are so lucky to have these as a link to the past and an update with the present generation....times to treasure....

Pat said...

So glad you had an enjoyable day Mary and the photos are lovely, especially of that beautiful family heirloom quilt. x

Marilyn said...

Sounds like you had a good day. Enjoyed reading your story

Brenda said...

Oh Momma Mary, this was not a boring post at all, just the opposite!! I loved seeing your childhood church and learning more about it! Very beautiful and very similar to the old church we would go too when I lived down south. Well before they update with the brick and the additions. lol Old white churches in the south were the norm. I love, love the old quilt-what a special and cherished heirloom!!! And to have the signatures of all those special people, I wish you were the one who could have had this quilt. It gave me goosebumps looking at it! I'm so glad you enjoyed the reunion. I used to do the reunion for hubby's family, but after doing it for a number of years, I passed it on to someone else in the family. Sadly they didn't take their turn and didn't pass it on, so there is no reunion. I hope they realize what they've done by not having an annual get together. It's a shame when you can't take a little time to take your turn for something like this. So I'm in awe that you guys still have a reunion, wish we did too. Hugs

Redanne said...

I love the picture of the church, it is beautiful and I loved reading all about the quilts. Great photos too. It sounds like it was a really good reunion. Hugs, Anne xx

Gail said...

Great pictures!
Love Family Rebellions.
Have 2 this summer/ on both sides!
Might miss my moms, it's just sooooo far away all the time!
This one's in the middle of nowhere with no place to stay!

Sandy said...

Wonderful Mary - thanks for sharing with us!!
Sandy xx

Jean Straw said...

Family get-togethers are great and I'm so glad you had a good day. Thank you for sharing your photos of the old church and the wonderful quilt, what a lovely heirloom.
Jean x

Sheila H said...

Sound as if you had a delightful time. The quilt is amazing. It's wonderful to know your family history.

Darnell J Knauss said...

That was a lot of work, Mary, and a beautiful retelling of the reunion. I hope your relatives appreciate it! I certainly enjoyed it! The quilt history is remarkable! Did you ever find out the name of the guy?? Too funny! It is odd isn't it, how "suddenly" we became the geezers in the room?!! By the way, I loved your rendition of Moon River!! Hugs, Darnell

Karen Petitt said...

OMGee - these are gorgeous Mary and I am so envious. I have lots of Liberty lawn fabric that I originally purchased to make clothes with but I am thinking we would love them more and use as throws and/or quilts and these inspire me to get DH to clear out the small bedroom so that I can get to my machine and the fabric! Cereal hoarders/obsessive compulsive disorders with stamps now but originally fabric lol! Karen x

Shirley said...

TFS, Mary. I have hand-made quilts that my great aunt Rozella made. They are hand tied and sewn by hand too.

Petra Swart said...

Such a lovely story about your reunion, Mary!!! Love the beautiful church and the stunning quilt!!!!

Princess Judy Palmer said...

I enjoyed hearing about your reunion and seeing the old quilt. My grandmother used to make full-size quilts for the babies. By the time I came along she couldn't see or sew so well so she had someone make it for me. I still have it. My little brother had a quilt from her as well, but I doubt he has his. We used ours as she was adamant she didn't want them tucked away for show. Now it is old and frail so I don't use it. I have several handmade throws that I've picked up at thrift stores. I can't believe that people give these gifts of the heart away. Their loss is my gain! I have one that the cats adore so it is theirs, taken over by them. It covers the end of the couch they like to hang at out. I think that might be the last of the homemade throws, as I do use them.