Collected by Louise Bassett, Brookfield Massachusetts, 1938 The speaker is Ella Bartlett, who was in her eighties.
I remember one spring, there was a
lot of the girls that had got engaged and we did nothin' but make quilts for
'em. I was an awful quick sewer, so, of course I was always one of the first to
We would think we'd got everybody quilted up, when some mornin'
there'd be a knock at the front door and some boy or girl would be there to say
that 'Ma sent her compliments' and would I come to her quiltin' bee, and then
we'd know another of the girls had got engaged.
I declare sometimes I'd be so fair
worn out that the mere thought of doin' another quilt would make me feel jest
like droppin'. If we was asked, we went, even if we
was sick. We went if we could stand on our two feet.
Of course in winter we
didn't mind, the evenin's were long and we had more chance for a good time
after we'd finished our quiltin' - then we wa'n't so tired as we were in
Quiltin's awful hard work, let me
I don't believe there'd been any
quiltin', if we hadn't known the men was comin'. They was always invited for
the evenin' and then we'd all roast apples and chestnuts and pop corn,and lots
of times they'd be a fiddler in and we'd dance. Then if the sleighin' was good,
we'd have a long bob sleigh or a wood sled and we'd drive home the longest way.
We didn't quilt so awful much in
summer. It wa'n't much sport, let me tell you, for when it was hot we'd be so
tired quiltin' all we'd want to do was to go home and go to bed.
I remember one
awful time - it was when Henrietta Daggett had got engaged - it was in July,
and it was the hottest July I recollect.
Well, that week there wa'n't a cool
spot in the town. In every house someone would get up around four in the
mornin' and close all the windows and pull down all the shades and shut the
shutters, if you had 'em and most everybody did. But in spite of havin' the
windows shut and all, the whole house would be like an oven in less'n four hours.
Well, we was expected to get to the
Daggetts jest as soon as folks got their dinner dishes washed up and put away,
so I guess it was 'most two o'clock before we got to quiltin'.
We was wilted by
the time we got to the house but the minute we got there and the front door was
opened, my, how nice and appetizing it did smell! We knew we would have
something good to eat, anyway. But, oh dear me, how our hearts sank
when we saw the size of the quilt Henrietta was goin' to have us do.
Later on I guessed it wa'n't as big as it looked to us that day but talkin' it
over with some of the girls long afterwards, I guess it was about the biggest
one we ever did, and my sakes you ought to've seen the pattern. I never saw so
many pieces in a pattern, before or after.
The calico pieces were bright and
pretty and that helped. Some of the pieces were from dresses. The older women
could tell you jest who had 'em, how they was made and everything about 'em. One
woman found a piece of her wedding dress that she'd given Mrs. Daggett long
years before. She was dreadful excited when she saw it.
Mrs. Daggett and Henrietta was busy
all afternoon gettin' supper ready. I really believe those good smells from the
kitchen kept us goin', anyway we finished the quilt and had it all rolled up by
the time the men came.
We'd all brought some things to put on to make us look
sort of dressed up after we had got finished sewin'. I had crimped my hair and
hadn't combed it out hopin' it might look kinda good when
the evenin' came, but my sakes alive, it wa'n't nothin' but a string and a
straight string at that, but I didn't mind much for I didn't have a beau like
most of the girls.
As soon as the men had come, Mrs.
Daggett asked us all to walk out to have some tea and it was a tea that a body
wouldn't mind walkin' a mile or two for, even in the hot sun. There was cake - five
or six kinds - cookies, ginger snaps (she was noted for her
ginger snaps), doughnuts, I don't jest remember how many different kinds of
pies they had, I declare it was eight or nine. There was all kinds of canned
peaches, pears and different berries, all kinds of jams and jellies and
cold meats, three or four kinds of meats and pickles. Mrs. Daggett always made
the best pickle a body could think of. Nobody ever gave such an elegant
quiltin' party as that one.
After the dishes was washed and cleared away we
We played roll the cover, that was
one, and drop the handkerchief, was another, London Bridge, another, and post
all games I guess they play today.
One of the girls that night - Lucy
who was in love with Eugene Downs, a nice, good lookin' lad, got so
upset because Eugene had so many letters in the post office for another girl
named Susan Williams, that she suddenly said she was afraid she was goin' to
faint and she made so much fuss about it that everybody had to stop playin' and
wait on her.
Of course, as soon as she got the kissin' game stopped, she got
well. Mrs. Daggett had got a fiddler in
for us to dance, but, my land, it was too hot. We all looked like string beans
before we even got started and we wasn't fit to look at after we'd hopped about
a little, but we didn't hop long, we couldn't, so then we sat around and fanned
ourselves and wished we was home and could get on some clothes that was cool.
Then some one asked Susan Williams to sing. She's the girl Eugene was havin'
all the letters for in the postoffice game.Susan was a real good little singer,
I used to like to hear her.
Well, after everybody had coaxed and coaxed - you
know in those days folks thought you was forward if, when anybody asked you to
sing or play or recite or something, you did it right off. You'd have to be
coaxed and then of course, after a while you'd give in and do what they asked
you to do.
Well, as I said, after she'd been
coaxed enough, she sang 'The Last Rose of Summer' and was singin' it real
pretty, too, but right when she got started, Lucy Sears, if you please, got the
hiccoughs. Maybe she did really have 'em but she wouldn't do anything to stop
'em. Henrietta got her some water, but she wouldn't take it.
She said she was
sure it wouldn' t do her a bit of good and will you believe it, she kept
hiccoughin' until Susan had got through. If I'd been Susan I'd have kept on
singing until I had worn her down. I wish she had done it but I guess she
didn't think of it. I know I didn' t. If I had I'd have put her up to it.
Well, anyway, the evenin was nearly
over. We went outdoors and set around singin' hymns and old songs. It was funny
to see Eugene Downs sittin' on the steps of the porch with Lucy on one side and
Susan on the other, both makin' an awful set for him, and he settin' there
pretendin he didn't know what they was about.
We all set around waitin' to see which one he'd take home , but he fooled us, he jest got himself up from the step where he'd been settin' said 'Good Night' to everybody and went home alone.