Monday, February 24, 2014

February Meeting--Underground Railroad

Pine Belt Quilters were treated to a delightful program by members Jean Martin and Minnie Watts at the February meeting. In a tribute to Black History Month, Jean and Minnie were dressed in period costume from the 1800s and described life as a slave and the desire to escape to freedom.

Jean Martin and Minnie Watts
They were assisted by Pastor Tommy Fairley of Collins, who played the harmonica--old favorites like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Down By the Riverside,” “I’ll Fly Away,”  and “Amazing Grace.” You’d have thought you were at an old-fashioned camp meeting as the group clapped in rhythm and sang along to the melodies we all remember from our youth.

Pastor Tommy Fairley
Jean related many stories of the Underground Railroad and how people who facilitated escaping slaves were referred to as conductors, safe houses as stations, and the runaways as passengers. One of the most famous conductors was Harriet Tubman (1823-1913). Many people gave food, clothing, and hiding places for the travelers. It was unlawful to teach slaves to read, and many forms of messages and directions were used. Stories have been passed down through generations of the use of quilts in windows and on fences to indicate a code for sending these messages. It is thought that Jacob’s Ladder pointed the way; Wagon Wheel meant it was time to go; Bear’s Paw that there was food nearby; Sailboat that this was a safe passage to freedom. Although there may have been a fear of water, the slaves often walked in creeks and a river’s edge to avoid leaving tracks and scent for tracking dogs.
Jean had made quilts in many of the patterns from these stories. Pictured below are her Wagon Wheel and Sailboat quilts.

Minnie showed a quilt she had made in the style of the Gee’s Bend quilters. These quilters made colorful, graphic quilts in spite of being isolated without seeing what was being made in other areas.
Minnie's Gee's Bend style quilt
Minnie’s husband and Jean’s husband were both in attendance, beaming with pride! The audience expressed their enjoyment and appreciation--When have you attended a quilt guild meeting and witnessed a standing ovation? There is a wealth of information to be found on the Internet (Google Underground Railroad and Gee’s Bend).
The Boutique group showed us the two-handed pot holders they made at their last meeting. These will be sold at the Boutique during the quilt show (October 3-4-5, 2014).
Barb Peters, Liane McCall, Shirley Walley, Kathy Houseal
Visitor Lhay Triffley, director of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, described OLLI’s many classes, seminars, and day trips of interest to seniors (over 50).
Kelley Ellis, special events manager at the Hattiesburg Zoo for the Convention Center told us some zoo facts (we have 80 species in our zoo!)to encourage members to participate in the Zoo Challenge category at the show (quilts 24” x 24”) from which one will be selected for a $250 purchase award.
Snippets from Missy Lee: Glad Press 'n Seal can be used to laminate your applique patterns so that they can be written on with a Sharpie pen. It can be cut into strips and wrapped around your thread spools to keep thread from tangling. Keep up with small parts by pressing between two sheets.
Packets containing membership directories and calendar of meetings were passed out. We also received raffle tickets for the Confetti Stars quilt. Each member is responsible for at least 20 tickets; this is our largest fund raiser for the show and many members sell dozens of tickets.
Charitable activities: 127 pillows, 15 walker totes, and 11 catheter bag covers  were brought in.
Members with February birthdays furnished door prizes; the fat quarter drawing was red fabrics; Dianne McLendon passed out the first Round Robin Challenge instructions and fabric; Friendship Block patterns were given. In other words, we had an action-packed meeting, with many more to come! Our new website will be up and available soon.

1 comment:

E.E. said...

Great article on apparently was an amazing program. Sure hate I could not attend. Certainly hope they will do it again at the quilt show or for MQA. I really want to see it.