Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Giles's Girls and Quilt Making.

When I think of quilts, I always think of the Giles sisters.

My mother had cousins she and her siblings called the "Giles girls." Three of the girls never married. One of their specialties was quilt making. In one of the bedrooms in their country home (near Fayetteville) there was a stack of beautiful quilts that reached all the way to the ceiling. Not just an eight foot ceiling, but a country ceiling! And the platform that held the quilts was just a few inches off the floor.

When I went with my family to visit as a child, we were always awestruck to see such a mountainous stack of quilts. And they were folded only once, and the corners matched perfectly
Whenever anyone mentioned the Giles sister, someone would say, "I wonder whatever happened to all those quilts." I do not know. With no children nor grandchildren to wear the quilts out sleeping on the floor, they may be heirlooms in some home.
Hopefully some of the neices or nephews have them.

Mama loved and respected her Giles cousins and had played with them as a child so we visited as often as possible even though we lived some distance apart.
I remember them in our home a few times. The family lore is full of stories of the perculiarity of the "Giles girls." On one of their visits to our house, we were all sitting around at bedtime in the "sitting room - bedroom."

The slop jar had already been brought in. I do not remember all the circumstances but my four year old nephew was asleep on one of the beds. Lula said to Mama, in her slow speech typical of the Hollywood stereotype of the Southern drawl, "Eula do you think it would be alright for me to use the slop jar with that little boy in the room."

But life goes on. God bless the memory of these quaint Giles sisters who so facinated us in my childhood.

The Giles sisters were perfect housekeepers. Their country house was said to be so so clean one could "eat off the floor." I am sure no one ever did!

Annie (1885-1975) and Lula (1882-1956)were in charge of the cooking and Pearl (1888-1978)did much of the work in the large garden. They raised their own vegetables for year round use. They canned vegetables and dried fruits for winter use. I remember sitting at their table one time as a child with bowls of vegetables and a huge platter of fresh sliced country tomotoes. I do not remember much about the rest of the menu, but no doubt they also had fried chicken and perhaps another meat dish as a typical "company" dinner in the rural South.

Their mother, Aunt Elmira (Elmira Mask Giles 1854_1940)) was a sister
to Mama's mother, Elizabeth Mask Dick. Elmira and Elizabeth were the daughters of the properous (for the times) farmer and Methodist preacher Bogan Mask. They could (and did ) trace their (our) family history back to the Revolution. Family history was important as "Class" was valued in the South with so many other things "gone with the wind" after the Civil War. It is strange and of little importance to me now but my mother told us on more than one ocassion we "came from good stock."

One of the Giles daughters, Odell, had married, and their only brother had married; but Annie, Pearl, and Lula never married. When Mama and her sisters, Aunt Molly, Aunt Cora and Aunt Fannie visited together, they sometimes remarked about how "pitiful" it was that the Giles girls had never married. Marriage for women was considered of utmost inportance then. So it follows that many of the Women's liberation generation rebelled in the oposite direction.

Aunt Cora pointed out that the reason the Giles girls did not marry was because their papa, Uncle William Giles )1859-1826) was so "peculiar." They said Uncle Bill Giles was "curious".

This did not mean the dictionary reference for the word as eager to learn or inquisitive.
Uncle Bill, they reported was " flat out cure-rus" which meant strange.. He would never let his daughters date. It was said that he "ran off" every man who showed an interest in courting one of his daughters.

It seems that the youngest daughter, Odell had "run off and got married."


Terrell said...

I remember going out to the Giles' house. As I recall, it was unpainted but neat. I remember someone, maybe Mama Baird or one of her sisters, or Sis, breaking off a twig from a bush, and noting that that was what they used as toothbrushes in the old days because that particular bush had fibers in the twigs that fanned out and remained intact when the tip is crushed. It may have been "Sweet Shrub", I'm not sure. Do you remember that?

Joan said...

Terrell, why do you have so many more childhood memories than I do? I have no recollection of them at all.