Just Another Old String Quilt
By: PJ Hall-Bills
Just an old string quilt is one of my later memories. When we are young there are always memories that we hold dear to us about the people we grew up around and impacted our lives. My grandmother was just such a person for me. Life was hard in her day and she was a survivor. One of the things I remember the most was staying with grandma under those heavy quilts to keep us warm. This is one of the memories of my time with her during a visit one cold winter.
Grandma was a proud woman that had raised a family on her own at a time when women had to fight for their rights. Grandpa was a fairly young man when he died from what they called black lung and other complications. Grandma had the land that she and grandpa had bought and a mostly finished Jim Walters home. By mostly finished, it had no inside running water or heat but this is another story. She didn’t draw a pension from grandpa having black lung or social security.
Grandma lost her house and lived in a two room unfinished home. It had black board for the outside. Uneven bare flooring and was cold in the winter. She made this her home by using what she had of her furniture. That said, in each room was a bed and on both beds where homemade quilts. She used a wood stove to heat with.
One day a man came to visit her. You know, one of those insurance salesmen. He just wanted to see how she was doing and talk with her. While they were visiting she continued to work on a quilt that she was making. The quilt top was of old clothes that she had and cut them into strips. That way she could get the most use of all the left over material. He watched her for awhile during the visit working on that old string quilt.
He told her that it was beautiful quilt. She said, “I told him it was just an old string quilt.” Before the man left he offered to buy that quilt. He offered her $100 dollars for the quilt! She thought he was missing a little upstairs by offering her that much for her old string quilt. She refused to sell it to him because she said, “I need this old string quilt to keep warm when it’s so cold.” The amazing thing about this is my grandma had quilts but she didn’t have any money. She only had the little tiny bit she could make.
My grandmother never said why she didn’t sell him that old string quilt. Some felt that she could have bought a heater and stayed warm all the time with money left. She didn’t think it was right to sell something that would keep her warm long after the money was gone. I was never quite sure why she didn’t sell that old quilt but was glad when it was on the bed I slept in when I visited her that cold winter.
Grandma would make quilt tops then sew her older quilts inside of these. They made for heavy bedding. It sure was nice once the bed was warm and the fire had gone out to have those old quilts to keep us warm when we were growing up. You felt safe and snug with them to cover you and maybe this was why she wouldn’t sell that old string quilt.