It’s Mostly Between the Lines.

16 November, 2011 § 1 Comment

When I first walked into the auditorium to help set up for our organization’s largest annual fundraiser this past Sunday, my only thoughts were focused on pay stations, table numbers, place settings, credit card lines run through iPads and PowerPoint presentations. I vaguely remember someone mentioning something about the silent auction that would be taking place before everyone went home at the end of the night but really thought little of it.

That is, until I saw this:

Close-up of the Quilt
(blurriness attributed to my camera phone)

As my closest friends would hopefully attest, I’m not a big spender. I would rather invest in time and relationships than in a wardrobe or a perfectly stocked kitchen — the currency I tend to spend most extravagantly is that of meaningful conversation, shared laughter and dreaming, and homemade meals. (Well, OK, it should probably be acknowledged that my thrifty ways disappear in a musty blink of the eye as soon as I step foot into the chaotic, inky, poorly lit, crazily full, paper-lined, shelving spaces of used bookstores… but that’s a thought for another day).

Every now and then again in a blue moon setting, however, I stumble across a heart-treasure and fall desperately in love in less than the time it took me to write this sentence.

This 100+ year old quilt, revitalized puff squares displayed above, is one such case of sheer infatuation. Passed down through three generations of family members, the donated auction item was a beacon of creativity, color and legacy in a spread of newer and glitzier possibilities — ornaments, gift certificates, DVDs, stuffed animals, golf clubs and the like. I held my breath and tiptoed over to peer down at the paper next to the quilt, pencil poised at the top of the sheet waiting for bid names and numbers to fill the blank expanse. Exhaling when I realized the starting bid was the total sum of my monthly spending budget (granted, $100 is ridiculously low sum, especially for such an heirloom, but the decision to plunk down the entirety of your wallet’s content for the month is not a light endeavor), I snuck another look at the colorful patches, reached out a finger to glance over their textured fabrics, and then turned back and wrote the three numbers down in a confident hand.

For the following 2 and a half hours — seriously, this was the longest and most drawn-out silent auction I’ve ever attended — pins and needles and sweaty palms reigned. Every time a curious and undoubtedly more affluent bidder wandered over near the general proximity of what I had already deemed to be my quilt, I crossed my fingers and willed them to keep walking with all the hope and limited pennies I carried with me. O, I was a ridiculous sight to behold, I’m sure.

Well, one auction, one money transfer and one dumbfounded bid winner later, the quilt went home with me. I’m still not sure how or why no one outbid me but… the love is deep.

(Umm. Yes. I emailed the lady who donated the quilt to the auction
in the hopes of learning more of the story behind it,
and below is her response. How fabulously whimsical is this?)

I am 53 and my grandfather, if he were alive, would have been around 105.  His uncle Fred was married to my Aunt Agnes.    I remember going to Aunt Agnes’ funeral when I was about 5.  My first funeral.  Uncle Fred lived until the 1970s, I believe. Anyway, that was their quilt. 
Stories I have heard is they were very, very good people, super duper in love and very well off.  They had a beautiful home over near Rice University  and I remember going there and seeing the stairs with one of those little chairs that went up and down for you to ride on!!!!    They never had any children so my grandpa, who was their nephew, was like their child.
There was another niece also. My grandfather actually died before Uncle Fred and he (Uncle Fred) was so kind  that he gave my grandmother my grandfather’s part of the estate and tons of furniture and jewerly, etc, which I thought was nice.   Anyways, I always think of the love stories that went with these two people. My Uncle Fred never remarried after his beloved wife died.
Now for the quilt. 
That was in the things that my grandmother got and of course then I got. When we got it, the back parts were rotton and a lot of the “puffs” were either gone or torn. We had a special lady, Connie, that lived with us to take care of my grandmother and one day she said, “what is this old thing?”  I told her and the next thing I knew, Connie was putting a brand new green back on the quilt and repaired all of it.   We even washed it and air dryed it.
Well, this past year, my husband and I just sold our big house and moved into a townhome in houston for a second home  (we actually live in the hill country most of the year) and I thought to myself,
you know, someone needs this quilt that will love it
and appreciate it instead of it being stuck in my closet.
I’m so glad it is you.
Enjoy and God Bless.

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§ One Response to It’s Mostly Between the Lines.

  • Felice says:

    An amazing quilt and quite a tale. I am grateful for your stories. I must confess, I am a quilt lover, too, but I’ve never seen a puff quilt! My favorite discovery: a patchwork quilt made entirely from ties.

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