Monday, June 20, 2011

Volcie and Wiltz

As part of our anniversary celebration, I'd like to introduce you to another quilter--one who I knew from my birth until her death in 1992.  She was my grandmother, Volcie Mary Couvillion Lacombe, and I admired every aspect about her and her life.  I loved her dearly and now, almost 20 years after her death, I still miss her and think of her often, especially when quilting.

One of my earliest memories is of playing under the quilts that hung from the ceiling at Ma-ma and Pa-pa's house.  Elderly aunts and friends sitting in every seat around the quilt, needle in hand, talking, gossiping, and laughing at their lewd jokes, of which naturally I had no understanding.  By no understanding, I mean I had no understanding of any of it: they spoke in a very fast French dialect and though I knew a few words, I was completely clueless.

My grandfather, Wiltz, attached the quilt to the frame and then hung the frame on chains that eventually reached the hooks already screwed into the beaded-board ceiling.  The single light with the pink glass globe gave the only light, other than the little light that came in through the windows.  How these ladies saw well enough to make any stitches, I still do not understand.  Those stitches were perfect, small and tight and straight.  But then  how could they be anything but perfect?  There had been lifetimes of practice.

Crawling from the front door to the opening that lead to the kitchen was an interesting journey of smelly feet, varicose veined legs, and homemade cotton "step-ins" as Pa-pa called panties.  These women wore cotton dresses that they hiked up to their thighs so that they could sit comfortably with legs splayed in all directions.  How or why we young ones played under the quilt, I have not idea, but we did.  The quilt made a fabulous tent and although we were certainly underfoot, we were probably less problematic than when we played in the kitchen.

These memories of Volcie and Wiltz and all the aunts and great-aunts and cousins are among my most cherished memories and I pray that I never forget them.  How could my mom have known then, before Alzheimer's forced her to forget everything quilt related, that documenting one of my grandmother's quilts would become a source of great pride for me?  Below is a copy of the documentation information on the quilt index which is the work of The Alliance for American Quilts.

Can you figure out what this neat little wooden item is?  I'll post more info on it in the next few days.  Until then, I'd be interested in knowing what you think it is.

Two days till the giveaway!  Better get your chance in by following my blog and leaving a comment.


LaDonna and Diana said...

How wonderful that you have that documentation for the quilt! "Step-ins" is still used in my husband's family, for both men's and women's underwear.


Anonymous said...

Ohmygosh! Is that Ma-ma's quilting stand?!? I really, really hope so and if so, it couldn't have found a better home. angie