Saturday, January 26, 2013

Aletha Mae's Ozark Quilt

To me, this is the perfect example of 
an Ozark Mountain quilt.
  This quilt was made by my
mother, Aletha Mae, when she was
77 years old and given to me to be USED.
Yes, a quilt is a pretty thing, but around here
it's for keeping you warm, a picnic at
 the creek or a pallet for a sleeping baby.
This photo of my Mother, Aletha Mae, (right)
and her sister Virginia Lou was taken in front
of the Cedar Creek School, Taney County. 
 One teacher, one room, wood heat and an
 outhouse.  Mother says it had a well and all
the children drank from the same dipper. 
When Mother (front row center) 
started school, she was the only first
 grader, so she was bumped up to the second
 grade.  All the little boys are wearing
 coveralls....still popular around here!  

It's sewn completely by hand.
 Every block is a different color 
 and made from scraps.
I asked my Mother what the pattern
is called, she said  "Oh, just a pretty one."
Does anyone know?

My Mother was raised in a two-room
log cabin with a dirt floor. She carried water
 from a spring, learned to cook on a wood stove,
 did homework by the light from an oil
lamp, and used an outdoor privy.  As the
 depression ravaged the country, most folks
 around here didn't even notice.  
The back of this quilt is a bed sheet,
 not a new 500 count Egyptian cotton,
 but a well worn sheet.
Frugality was a way of life for
Ozark Mountain folks. 
Growing up one of my chores was to 
wash, dry and fold the aluminum foil, as
it was used several times.  Same goes
for the margarine tubs and plastic bags!
(I must admit aluminum foil was
 much heavier years ago!)
My Grandma Ethyl is coolin' me
 off in the river, yes, she's fully dressed
 and wearing her bonnet.  You don't need a
swimsuit to take a dip in the crik, we
call it Ozark air-conditioning.  I'm
 sure there's a pretty quilt on the bank.
Look closely... notice how short the
pieces in the bottom row are.  Those
scraps were a bit small, but used
anyway.  Mother says, "Make do with
what you have." 
This quilt has never seen a ruler
or rotary cutter. 
 Mother talks about the the quilting bees
and the "fine" quilts the old timers made, and
apologized for her uneven large stitches.
She doesn't realize it, but she's one of the
 last "old timers" of a truly simple life and
  bygone era.  Her quilt might not win
 first place in a big city quilt show, but to
 me it's an "extra fine" Ozark quilt.
It's my treasure and don't tell Mama,
but it's NEVER used!

Aletha Mae is 81 years old and
still works on her quilt blocks
when her health permits.  
Happy Birthday Mama!


  1. What a lovely quilt--and what a lovely birthday tribute, Sherri.

  2. I really enjoyed this post so much. So much information and the pictures really show you the different times than we know today. I remember things too from my childhood, going to the old country house of my relatives who also had outdoor plumbing and artesian wells, but i don't have pictures. I enjoyed seeing yours. Your mother is still very pretty.

  3. What a beautiful post! I guess times are better now, but I am not so sure; one step forward and two steps back, it seems to me. I so admire women like your mother, and mine, who worked and made do with so little. Your mother's quilt is a treasure and so are the memories.

  4. The quilt is very pretty, and to think -- all done by hand! My mother was a quilter too and I'm thankful I learned from her.

    I can remember Daddy saying the depression wasn't really over for folks out in the country; it took a long time for them to see better times. I'm old enough to know about no electricity or indoor plumbing, feed sack dresses and kerosene lamps; still probably the happiest days of my life.

    Thanks for the memories!


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