Mama Remembered: Pictures of the Quilting Ladies


About a month ago I posted Mama Remembered: War Chairman for the PTA here .  Since then I happened across two additional pictures of the committee she organized to make quilts and I wanted to share them.  So, here is that part republished, with pictures added.


From Mama’s book, I Remember:

Another of my jobs as War Chairman was to head the Red Cross group, a group of ladies who met one day a week to make afghans for the veterans in the hospitals.  We made them of wool scraps, cut in 3 1/2 in. squares, crocheted around with yarn and then sewed together to make a large afghan.  The PTA gave me money to buy the yarn.  I went to the clothing factories and asked them for their wool scraps.  When I told them what it was for, they loaded me down with scraps.  I would cut the squares at home, pack them in a suitcase and take them down to the school.  If I remember right we met Thursday afternoon.  We would spend a couple hours cutting , crocheting and talking about the designs.  The ladies (there were usually 8 to 12 of them) also took ones home to crochet around.

   Mama and her Red Cross Committee meeting in the school kitchen.

   Mama (third from left in front row) and her Red Cross group  with one of the afghans they made.

I would take the completed  squares home and lay them out on the floor to plan a design, then I would pick them up in rows.  The next time we met, we would sew them together in that order.  Some of our afghans were beautiful.  We always hung them around the room on PTA day.  Then we gave them to the Navy or Army Mothers to be taken to the hospitals.  We felt like we were helping.


Several things strike me about these photos.  First, I am amazed at the school kitchen.  It’s hard to tell because of the sun coming in the window, but I get the impression it might be in the basement, and it looks like a basement!  Certainly not a tile and chrome school kitchen as we expect today.   On the other hand, I think there may be people who still have folding chairs like the ones they are sitting on.  Okay, maybe not exactly like them, but certainly similar!

Also, I think the way the ladies are dressed is very interesting.  As far as I can tell, they all have on high heels and I imagine they are all wearing dresses.  Young mothers, you put on heels and a dress to go to your childrens’ school to volunteer too, right?  Yeah, I did too.

A group of nice ladies who spent some time every week in the school kitchen working on a worthwhile project.  And don’t they look proud of their results.

I think “We felt like we were helping.” sums it up. 

That’s one thing that hasn’t changed.  Doing something to contribute to a worthy cause still feels good. 


11 Responses to Mama Remembered: Pictures of the Quilting Ladies

  1. cathy says:

    Sandra – we just had our yearly quilt show this weekend and we always do a “bed turning” – a program where we have several antique quilts layered on a bed and 2 ladies lift the quilts up for all to see as the narrator tells the history of the quilt. Then the quilt is folded and laid at the foot of the bed and the next is lifted up and talked about, etc. We had one this year that was a “Red Cross” quilt – it was white with pieced red crosses placed in rows. I guess they had made a lot of them like that during the war.

    It is interesting to see all the ladies dressed to the “T”. We ALWAYS made sure that we were dressed nicely when we went down town when I was a girl. One interesting thing, though – if we had curlers in our hair, we thought nothing of just putting a scarf over our curlers and going out. Why is it that we would only go dressed up but would wear curlers in our hair? You wouldn’t find me dead going anywhere with curlers in my hair now (not that people wear curlers much anymore!)

  2. Sandra says:

    Cathy — I love the idea of your quilt turning. I think there are probably lots of quilts that have a wonderful story attached to them.

    I agree that we must have been a confused generation, because, on the one hand we still “dressed up” like our mothers, but the little rebels in us made us do things like wear our BIG curlers out in public poorly hidden under a scarf. Ahhh, but when I look back I cherish my memories of those simpler times. 🙂

  3. Dina says:

    Reading your post and seeing the photos reminded me of some beautiful quilts that we saw this summer. We were driving to Black Hawk Lake in Iowa and drove through lots of farm land. Almost every barn we drove past had these amazingly colorful and beautiful quilts hanging on them. The designs seemed like they definitely had meaning. Your post reminded me that I wanted to find out their significance, because I’m sure there was a story behind them all.

  4. carlahoag says:

    I always enjoy those old photos and the stories that go with them. The country school that I attended until 8th grade had photos in the trophy case of the mothers canning in the cafeteria. It was taken maybe during the 1930s and the women were dressed similar to your mother. Even in the late 50s and 60s it was only the modern, young mothers that wore slacks to the school, or at all. I never saw my mother in slacks until after I was married. She wore them when she was young because I’ve seen the photos.

    Those curlers … I still have some and get them out every once in a while because my very straight hair stays curlier after using them (rather than a curling iron).

    I miss the dressing up days.

  5. Sandra says:

    Oh, Dina! How beautiful those quilts must have been against barn siding! It WOULD be interesting to know the story behind them.

    Carla — “canning in the school cafeteria” sounds so fitting with my impression of those times. Kinder, gentler, dressier times! I miss all of that, even though I really didn’t experience it, only through family stories and pictures.

    I’m sure my mother wore slacks when she was young too, but I only remember her in dresses when I was growing up. It was a BIG DEAL in our family when she finally gave up her house dresses in the late 60’s or early 70’s and started wearing pants around the house.

  6. carlahoag says:

    Sandy: Exactly! I can remember how shocked I was the first time I saw her in slacks!

    And all those cotton house dresses she wore when I was growing up… well, they got ironed along with everything else. She didn’t even get her first clothes dryer until 1965.

    How did our mothers do it?!

  7. lesley says:

    Hello Sandra,

    It’s so nice to see these old photographs! Makes me wonder what they all chatted about. Thank you for sharing this, I’ll be interested to see Dad’s face when he sees the photo’s. :o)

  8. Sandra says:

    Well, Carla. I think they did what they had to do! That generation were definitely made of tougher stuff than us (their babies)are, but I also think some of that is their fault. I think they were thrilled to be able to give their children a childhood that they could never have even dreamed of for themselves.

    Lesley — I hope your Dad does enjoy the pictures! I don’t know what they talked about but they certainly looked like a happy lot, didn’t they! 🙂

  9. Chrissy Witt says:

    Such a neat entry from Mama!
    Oh yea always high heels and dresses to go to school with the children and my hair was done perfectly, no pony tails!! lol!
    The kitchen is so neat and the work is just beautiful, but there hearts are amazing!

  10. Sandra says:

    I’m believing every word of it, Chrissy! But send pictures anyway. I want to SEE this! 🙂

  11. OP: I might be daff (lord knows I have been told lol) but you made absolutely no sense what so ever…

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