Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Past + Present = Fun Future

It's time I told you a little about myself. At least about my earlier days. When my parents married they moved into a new house that was ready and waiting for them - newly built just for them. It was two bedrooms, one bathroom, eat in kitchen and living room, and a front porch. They still live in that house today - almost 59 years later - although it bears little resemblance to that home of 1950.

They also had a chicken house that provided a source of income for them. My dad was a truck driver, and while he was on the road my mom took care of the chickens.

I came along in 1952. (An only child for 6 years, and the first grandchild on my father's side, so I was spoiled!) We had a gorgeous collie named Rexland Prince of Hope, and he was my playmate, my toy and my protector. When my mother went into the chicken house during the day, and if it was a nice day, she would leave me on a quilt in the yard and tell Rex to watch me. Even when I could only crawl, Rex wouldn't let me off that quilt for anything. If Mama had to go into the chicken house at night, Rex would accompany her and stay in the feed room until she came out and then go back to the house with her. Rex would never go into our chicken house, but he died from wounds he received after being hit by a car, on his way home from raiding a neighbor's chicken house! I will never forget Rex, and I'll never forget the night he died, and how hard my parents worked to save him.

(Note - that's really pink, not orangey pink as the picture shows! It's a somewhat sunny day, but it's still hovering below 30 and I didn't want to take all these outside!)

In March of 1958 our chicken house was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Back then we didn't have a local fire department and the county's forestry service crew came out and dug trenches to keep the fire from spreading, but that was all they could do. My mother was pregnant with my baby brother, so she and I laid on the bed in the back bedroom and watched the activity. An almost 6 year old could have been scarred for life by such an event, but we laid there and she talked to me and told me what the people were doing and why, and explained it to me in such a way that I was never frightened. That is a special memory to me to this day. And my brother was born about 2 weeks later, but then that is another story altogether, and one I probably won't tell about on here.

(Don't you love the purple cherries!)

Anyway, we didn't have much, and for most of my childhood, many of my clothes were made from chicken feed sacks. My mother lovingly removed the stitches from each one, washed them in her old wringer washing machine and hung them on the line to dry. One of my very favorite dresses was made from a blue and white checked fabric that my mother made for me, and dressed up with frilly white lace.

A few years ago, my mother finally broke down and gave me two large black garbage bags full of fabric. Some was purchased fabric, but much of it was the chicken feed sacks. She knew that they wouldn't hold any special memories for my brother since the chicken house was gone before he was born. I pulled out a few of the pieces of treasured fabric to use for picnic tablecloths and such, but the bulk of them were put into newer plastic bags and stored in our attic. Until this past Sunday. We were putting some Christmas decorations up there, and I threw down three medium sized bags of fabric. Yesterday and today I have been washing and drying each piece and folding them to store in my studio/office closet.

You see, that chicken house, the feed sacks and the burning of the chicken house are a big part of who I am, and until now I haven't been able to bear making anything from, or parting with them. But I've had a revelation. For those memories, I am the end of the line. I don't have any children, my brother never knew that part of our family life, and his sons probably don't even know it ever existed since that space had become garden space before they were ever born. So now I am ready, and excited to start making some new things from the old, and share them with others who will appreciate them. I've been making a few pincushions and lavender sachets from some smaller pieces, and now I am ready to begin in earnest.

(The yellow and blue ric-rack are printed on, not sewn on, and don't you love the little cowboys and cowgirls???)

So that brings me to the future part! That part of my past can be made into something special in the time (as in time on my hands) that I now have (my present) and make something for the future. And I'm happy about that, and more than a little excited. Of course this is going to involve me re-learning how to sew, but I think that will come in time, and I've got plenty of that these days!

The pictures you've been seeing above are bits of those special pieces of fabric. I also have this stack . . .

. . . of curtains from our home when I was a child. All of them are made from white feed sacks, embellished with all my Mama could afford - ric-rack. Some have pale green, others a brighter green and yellow, some with lavender and some with blue. I'll be using these in projects in the future.

This is the only colorful one remaining that is still in 'sack' form. I doubt I'll ever be able to take those stitches out. There needs to be at least one left for posterity, don't you think?

And these are still in sack form, too, and several of them are made of what I call 'diaper' fabric. Very soft and absorbent, lol! I'll probably keep one of them intact, but the others, well, who knows what I'll make from them!

(A lavender sachet made from the hem of one of the curtains, with a couple of buttons I added.)

Now I've told you a little about my childhood. A very special part that few people know about now, and I'm so glad I've shared it with you today!

(A pincushion I made from a scrap of the blue and white - the same as my favorite dress!)

So, what from your past do you have stuck back somewhere, something that you can make into something better for the future? Maybe fabric like me, or maybe pictures from long ago, or a piece of furniture you can refinish, or maybe just your memories that can be written down or recorded and passed along to future generations. I know there's something lurking there that you can turn into something special!

Blessings friends, Becky


Dixie's Whimsey said...

what a wonderful, sweet story. thanks for sharing your childhood memories... I never had a feedsack dress... in fact, I don't remember the feedsacks we had being that pretty... mostly just white with writing on them...

while on my shopping trip Sunday, I came across a basket of feedsacks. They were beautiful, much like your photo... I took a photo of the ones I found... mostly because I couldn't afford them... $15 each! treasures for sure!!

dana said...

I am just so moved by this wonderful story you shared! I remember having many a dress made from feed sacks---and how I wish I had them, now!! My mom did put together a "scrap" quilt when I married 41yrs ago--and it had pieces of some of our old clothes. I do treasure that heirloom to this day.
Your little pin cushion is the sweetest thing! What a great memory for you. Dana

Tara said...

What a beautiful story Becky. I love the honesty and your ability to remember the details from so long ago. thanks for sharing a part of who you are with us.

My husband had an old dresser he brought with him when he moved in. It came from his childhood, it was ugly, very 70's. I asked if I could re-do it, for our soon to be born babies room. It is now white shabby chic with little crystal knobs. I just love it...and it will always have memories!

Have a wonderful day!

SoBella Creations said...

Oh my goodness my husband would be in heaven with those feedsacks. For his 35 years of life that is the only thing he has used for pillow cases. He knows they are getting harder and harder to find.