Monday, June 30, 2014

Remembering Carrie

In my continuing effort to clean out the basement, I came across a box I have looked through before. In  it are papers from my paternal grandmother, Carrie Julia Rose Roberts Schneeloch. There are her two wedding certificates, deeds to their homes, and letters, lots and lots of letters. Evidently Carrie was a saver, and I am very grateful for that, although now I have to decide what to do with the treasures she has left.

Carrie was born in the Merrick section of West Springfield in 1881, the youngest of five children. She admitted to being spoiled by them, but she would have her share of heartache. On the first day of the new century, at nineteen years old, she married the handsome Joseph Roberts seen here. I can only imagine the joy they shared as they looked forward to a future together. Sadly Joseph died just four months later of a ruptured appendix. Not long after that she lost her beloved sister Charlotte "Lottie."

Two years later she married my grandfather, George Emil Schneeloch, and in 1911 gave birth to my father, George Robert Schneeloch, who was to be their only child. When I was born in 1945, I was their only grandchild, My brother Bill was born in 1954, after both our grandparents had died.

I remember both my grandparents fondly. I remember their reading to me out of a big story book, my grandmother's vanilla pudding, the smell of lifebuoy soap in their bathroom, my grandfather's garden. I also remember the smell of my grandfather's White Owl cigars. That I don't miss.

Of course, I remember them as "old." Here they are at our house on Thanksgiving of 1950, just a few months before my grandmother died. I am, to say the least, a bit unnerved when I realize that my grandmother was 69 here, the age I am now.

The letters (don't want to linger too long on that age thing) are interesting from a number of standpoints. First of all, they are in excellent condition for being over 110 years old, although some are hard to read, having been written in pencil. Many are in the original envelopes. Several of the many letters written to Carrie from her mother, Henrietta Spencer Rose, are addressed simply Mrs. George Schneeloch, c/o Kibbe Brothers, Springfield, Massachusetts. Kibbe Candy Company was where my grandfather worked.

More to come....

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My Butterfly Quilt

My quilt is not a show quilt, not like those that resemble a painting, where every thin strip of fabric is a brush stroke shading into the next color. It's not one with an intricate pattern with names like Dresden plate or prairie star or cathedral window. Simple green and pink butterflies are appliqued on off-white cotton. The stitching is not perfect, the original colors have faded, the edges are worn, and the very thin lining is leaking out.

Yet I love it because  my mother made it for me. I don't remember her making it. It seems it was always there in my room. I imagine it was in my crib before I graduated to the old spool bed that had been my father's, and which, years later, I am still sleeping in. I do remember being wrapped up in it as she or my father read to me at bedtime, cuddling with it and my cat Patsy on the old red sofa, and dragging it with me from room to room. So when it was finally consigned to the cedar chest, it had been worn thin with love.

I wonder now about my mother's decision to make this quilt. I know she and my father were overjoyed when I was born, not just as any parent would be, but because two years earlier she had carried a baby to full term only to lose her--the older sister Carolyn whom I would never know. Was she making this quilt while awaiting my arrival? Was it an activity to keep her from worrying about another tiny coffin? Or did she make it after I arrived sewing these tiny butterflies in a spirit of celebration.

Whenever she made it, I am glad she chose butterflies for the theme. I have always loved butterflies--their magnificent colors, their emerging from the cocoon, the story of their migration--all of that. Or maybe it is memories of being surrounded by them in the arms of my mother.