Tuesday Tales: Calico Connections #2

It’s Tuesday Tales time! This week we’re writing to the prompt – library.

The story Calico Connections continues this week. Last week we met Nellie Morris, a mother trying to keep her family fed and clothed as her husband Charles struggles to keep the family farm in Iowa, not an easy task in 1934. Little Doris arrives home from school bursting with excitement.

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sewing basketDoris headed towards the sink, grabbing an extra apron hanging on the back of one of the mismatched wooden chairs. “Norma Gean told us that her mother is going to start teaching us stitchery lessons at 4-H. She brought a quilt square with her to school that Mrs. Kemery is showing her how to make …. and we’ll be able to make a quilt like you do … and Berneice and Darlene want to learn too … and Betty said her mom has extra fabric she thinks we can use … and can I go through your scrap bag tonight … and …” the words poured from her lips like an erupting geyser.

“Whoa child, slow down,” I said, barely able to get a word in. “A quilt is a big undertaking.”

“I know, Mother. We won’t have a quilt right away. We’ll learn to do some squares first. It should be easy as pie; we’ve all been watching at your quilt guild meetings.”

“Watching isn’t the same as doing,” I said. “It will take a lot of practice to get your stitches even.”

“I know Mother,” Doris replied, rolling her eyes as she turned to the bowl of potatoes soaking in the sink, thinking I wouldn’t see.

I saw. I decided to let it go. We’d been having enough quarrels lately, more than I cared for. Doris had been so impertinent these last few months. Maybe these stitchery lessons would be a way to bring us closer again and take the girls minds off of the boys. Lordy, that’s all that the girls seemed to do lately, is giggle about boys. If it wasn’t freckle-faced John Balch, it was lanky Lyle Sickels or Donald Carroll, who chattered a mile a minute. Stitching would be a welcome relief to occupy the young girls.

“We’ll go through my scrap bag after supper,” I offered. “What kind of fabrics are you looking for?”

“I don’t really know yet. Our first lesson is Thursday after school. If you have a piece of muslin, I could take that to learn some stitches on, like the piece Norma Gean had.”

“I don’t know if there is any muslin left. I think I used that up patching the quilt in our room.” I paused from mixing the biscuit dough. Sitting the green ceramic bowl down on the table, I wiped my hands on the corner of my apron and tucked a wisp of stray hair back in place. “I think there are plenty of feed sack scraps you can use. We’ll look later, after supper.”

“Or, if there’s some pieces I can cut circles out of,” Doris added. “Norma Gean had these circles. She said Mrs. Kemery cut them out for her; because she didn’t do a very good job when she tried to cut a circle. And then … then she stitched around the edges and pulled it together and it made this little round piece. And she says that you sew all the little circles together … and it makes a quilt too … or a dresser runner … or …”

“Yo-yo’s,” I broke in. “They’re called yo-yos. They can be a little difficult to make at first. Mrs. Kemery will probably show you how to make a template to make them, it makes it easier. There’s a few calico pieces in the scrap bag that will make some nice yo-yo’s for you.”

“What’s a template?”

“A template is a piece you cut out of paper and then use that to cut your fabric pieces from. It makes it a lot easier.”

“Like those pieces that you’re saving from the newspaper?”

“Exactly,” I answered, “those are a template or a pattern. I’m sure that Norma Gean’s mother will cover that in your classes.”

Doris paused, holding a half peeled potato in her hand. “Saturday, could Father drive me to the library in Bedford? Mrs. Kemery said there are some books there that show how to make different stitches.”

“Goodness child, that’s nigh on twenty miles away.”

“Berniece’s father drives them into Bedford all the time. They’re always going there. She said the library is really nice and it’s on the square just across from the courthouse.”

“I know where the square is and where the library is. The directions are not a problem. It’s the gas. We don’t have enough gas to be gallivantin’ all across the country.”

Tears welled up in Doris’ eyes, threatening to spill down her cheeks. A telltale quiver of the chin foretold that I had a long night ahead of me. I just did not have the energy to fight with the girl tonight. I had enough turmoil in my life as Charles and I tried to hold the family afloat with a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. What else could go wrong in our lives right now?



  1. Oh, I feel the pain. you want so much for the kids, but it’s hand-to-mouth. Love the interaction between mother and daughter…very realistic. Well done 🙂

    • Thanks Sarah. Trying hard to go back to days I didn’t experience, when a meal and & roof over the heads was doing good. It makes me feel so spoiled, the abundance of “stuff” that exudes from every surface.

  2. Great dialogue between them. In that time in history I can understand the need to be careful with money. Bet the quilt making won’t take the girl’s minds off boys.

    • Thank you Lindsay. Yes, probably true, quilting can’t compete with the boys.

  3. very realistic dialogue! and I feel for the mum. hope life will pick up!

    • Thanks Iris. Life will pick up (by the end of the book at least lol)

  4. Wonderful dialog between mother and daughter. I suspect all the quilts in the world won`t take the girls minds off boys. 😉

    • Too true Vicki. Thanks for stopping & commenting, I appreciate it.

  5. A very vivid scene between mother and daughter, and your final sentence asdds potency to the mother’s dilemma.

    • Thanks Sherry. I appreciate the comments. The Tuesday Tales group is great!

  6. I can completely relate with so much of your post. I was in 4-H, my gma taught me how to make quilts, and shoot, most of us relate with money issues. great post

    • Thanks Davee. I was in 4-H in Arkansas the year we lived there. It was great. Unfortunately, in Southern Califoria we didn’t have 4-H, too surburban. We missed a lot not having it.

  7. wonderful details!!

  8. i love Doris’s ambition. I am glad her Mom is attempting to root her into reality. She’s undertaking a huge project! Great relationship between mother and daughter!

    • Thanks Tricia. The fun part is that these people really lived in Iowa in 1934. Nellie does gather a set of quilt squares for Dori’s Christmas gift. I got them in a yard sale in California. I’ve discovered just bits and pieces of the people that made the squares. The fictional part is trying to recreate their world that I think they might have had.

  9. I love historicals and yours is very well done. I enjoyed it

    • Thanks Jillian. Sometimes I joke that ‘I write about dead people’. Most of my stories revolve around people that lived and have now passed.

      • Awesome way to put it, Trisha!

      • Thanks Jillian.
        Have a wonderful weekend!

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