Thursday, February 17, 2011

Family Ties...

I've written before {here} about what a wonderful thing it is to join a family that has so many traditions and stories. James received a gift this weekend from Great Aunt Melly and Cousin Paddy. What a treasure! I'll share the explanation that came with it. (I'm choosing to leave full names and locations {indicated by the blanks} out for obvious reasons.)

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James S__ R__, Sr. was born 7 August, 1896 in South Carolina. He began his railroad career in 1915 in North Carolina and his son, James, Jr. was born there 9 June, 1921. The family moved to C__, South Carolina in 1926 where James, Sr. was depot master for the ___ until he died 20 January, 1944. It is a family legend that during his funeral on that cold January morning the train whistle echoed through the adjacent swamp. With him began an enduring fondness for trains. Our family Christmas tradition required an electric train circling the tree. {Side note from me: I had never seen anyone have a train around a Christmas tree until I met Eddie's family....Maybe I'd just never noticed or thought about it because I've found lots of people have this tradition!}

James, Jr. married Barbara S__ 25 September, 1942. Momma packed her trousseau and wedding silver into a trunk and spent her honeymoon on the train to Hattiesburg, Mississippi where Daddy was assigned to Camp Shelby for training. James S__ R__, III was born 21 October, 1943 while Daddy was serving overseas in the U.S. Army.

For decades Momma loved sewing and after she retired from teaching she produced lovely quilts from scraps of fabric leftover from dresses and other sewing projects. She prompted me to learn to quilt. After inspection of my first trial square, she said you could "catch a toenail" the stitches were so long! So after watching how tiny the hand stitching had to be, I resorted to machine quilting! Momma died 20 February, 2002. Daddy had retired after years with the local golf industry. He died 19 July, 2005, leaving behind Jimmy, our sister Barbara, and me. {Eddie and I were married the date he died, three years later.} A year later, Jimmy moved into the family homeplace. An avid sportsman, he quickly re-connected with hunting and fishing friends and fell back in love with his hometown.

Our great-nephew James E__ F__ was born 20 October, 2009, our sister's firstborn grandchild. He was named James for his great-grandfather, James S__ R__, Jr. Of course, Great-Uncle Jimmy was thrilled, and traveled to Georgia that Christmas to meet the family's newest James. No one was surprised that his first Christmas gift to Baby James was a fishing rod and reel!

Sadly, the day after Jimmy met and held and enjoyed Baby James, he succumbed to heart disease and died 24 December, 2009. He was buried at the right hand of his namesake, James S__ R__, Sr. on 28 December. As the entourage entered the cemetery, the train whistle once again echoed through the swamp. Al the cousins poured out of the cars with tears of disbelief at the unexpected repeat of the train's welcoming the next James home.

Daddy's older sister, Dorothy R__ S__ had one daughter, M__ Paddison (Paddy) S__ B__. My cousin and I have been quilting together for several years. Two were for her grandchildren using our grandmother's linens. We decided it would be fitting to use neckties that belonged to Daddy and Jimmy to produce a memory quilt for Baby James.

Most of the ties were machine washed and dried before selection to eleminate any ties that fell apart. We knew a baby's quilt must be able to hold up to rough and tumbling and washing. After de-construction, the fabric was reinforced with iron-on stabilizer prior to cutting the pieces. We used machine quilting techniques to complete the "Bow Tie" pattern.

Ties were selected according to Daddy and Jimmy's interests: hunting, fishing, baseball, basketball, Christmas and Easter, Clemson University, and some old ties that were just fun. Please notice the train tie, complete with cattle-catcher and smoke.

Giving Baby James the quilt called for a personal visit and special delivery.

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We are SO thankful for this wonderful gift!


Amy said...

that is amazing! what an awesome gift that he will treasure forever. i had no idea james's name had so much history behind it! wow!!

pcb said...

Lovely post, Lauren. I'm ALL about the family traditions.