Summer Quilt: A Gift From Barbara

June 14, 2011

Barbara loves stories as much as I do, and I had the privilege this morning of sitting with her for a couple of hours and listening to some of her’s. I was also the grateful recipient of several gifts that she had brought along with her, one of which was this summer quilt, which was a part of the backdrop for one of her stories.

The quilt is quite old–Barbara had no idea how old–and she got it after her aunts’ deaths, in the 50’s, while Barbara was in college. It is very lightweight so it wouldn’t have helped much in the NY wintertimes, but that was of no importance, since Barbara’s Aunts Ida and Jenny spent most of the winters with Barbara’s family. Ida and Jenny lived in a 2 story house without indoor plumbing or heat, so they needed the heavy coverlets (more treasures that Barbara brought to me), to keep them warm. During off-seasons, the wool coverlets and other woven blankets were in a gray painted carpenter’s box that was stored in the attic.

Barbara told me how much she loved visiting her aunts: “Their house was like a museum…with scopes that had pictures that moved and globes with falling snow, and they had a piano, which I played for them….The house looked small from the outside, but it had a parlor, a pump, a porch, and a pantry, along with an enclosed stairway that she never went up, even once, until after they died, and it had a summer kitchen with a small bedroom that could be closed off.” Barbara wasn’t sure where each one slept, but she guessed that there must’ve been 2 beds in the bedroom downstairs. And you could bet that the covers on them were thick and high with all of those blankets. Barbara brought me a high pile of them, along with some lovely, interesting table linens which I’ll use and change like bulletin boards in a teacher’s classroom.

I’m eager to use this summer quilt, but I’m not sure what to do. Part of me knows that it should be treated as an historical object. But the practical part of me says, “Use it,” which would tickle Barbara, too. I know also that there is probably a rule written somewhere that says to never, ever, as long as you live, never wash such an old quilt. And for the record, it doesn’t stink; it just doesn’t smell, well, fresh. It does smell old, though. And that’s OK for museums but not for a B&B. So stay tuned. We’ll see what happens…. (And actually, I think I know what’s going to happen….I think that if you walk past our house tomorrow, you’ll probably see it on the clothesline, drying, after a freshening-up in the gentle cycle of our washer. Like I said, just stay tuned.



  1. admin says:

    Well, I did it! This lovely vintage quilt is now hanging on my clothesline after a wash on the gentle cycle of the washing machine. ….I know; I know; I can hear the naysayers screaming already, “Sacrilege! Sacrilege!” But my guests will have the luxury of the old-time feel of a covering stitched with love and preserved just for their pleasure.

  2. Working in the home gift area myself I have to say that I’ve enjoyed flicking through your site :), it has provided me some positive ideas for working my own business online!

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