Monday, April 18, 2016
Friday, April 8, 2016
Monday, December 21, 2015
Treytin Gervias took this photo.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Mary Lee Bendolph
Mary Lee Bendolph: so positive! Filled with gratitude and sweet frankness. She has good and bad days; I think she had a stroke several years ago, and she talks often about how her mind is not right and some activities really hurt her head. Arranging images on her wall (in a quilt like fashion) is a favorite pastime; sometimes this wears her out. One day we call to visit and she’s not up for having us, another day we go and she is even able to show us her piecing method. Arranging, tearing, cutting. “We used what we had, mmmm hmmm.”
I am amazed at the frankness of her conversation. She speaks so freely of sex, pregnancy, fertility, marriage. As a young adolescent, just 13 years old, she was pregnant before she knew how one could get that way. Mary Lee was one of 17 children and thus her mama didn’t spend too much time explaining things to her. Just the command to “Be lovely.” Until one day her mama told her she had to stop going to school. And despite her successes at life, she’s still filled with regret over her lack of education.
Visiting with Mary Lee is a lot like going to church. Conversation follows the rhythm of a sermon’s call and response; her monologues are regularly broken up with “yes lord”, “thanks the lord”, “mmmhmmm”, “alright”. She is full of grace and gratitude, laughing frequently, almost singing while she speaks. Then she will break into song; it is deliberate, lovely.
view a video of MLB here:
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Ruth W. Kennedy is the oldest of the quilters living. So cool. Generous, welcoming, appreciative. She enjoys speaking of her long life. Her father ran the cotton gin, extra cotton from the gin was given by Ruth’s father to women in the community to use for quilt batting, they would have to pick the tiny seeds out of the fluff so that the oil did not stain the fabric. Ruth talks about the communal process of quilting: during the winter the women would go from house to house in the evenings in order to work on the quilts of their neighbors. They’d sing, gossip, philosophize and eat.
Ruth married Johnny Kennedy and they were able to buy their home and land from his parents. The house is a Roosevelt House, and Johnny added to it creatively and well. They planted everything. Cotton, vegetables, corn, raised their own meat. Ruth had only three daughters who all went to college.
One afternoon I stop by at Ruth’s to introduce Sammy. She is welcoming in curlers and delights in my daughter. Her hair! Does she comb it all by herself?
Monday, December 1, 2014
The way to Gee’s Bend:
Tunnels of piney woods. Walls of kudzu. Long and low, but not quite as flat as the South Carolina lowcountry. There are dips, like a rollercoaster ride in the kudzu. There’s a vastness in the humidity. A trailer pops up. Prairie like fields emerge out of the woods. Many head of cattle grazing. Dilapidated wooden buildings, then a lovely old plantation house or well-kept church. A large metal building with a quilt of a roof- different colors of corrugated tin. Fireworks stands. Ye Shall Know the Truth missionary Baptist Church is housed in a vast metal shed like building with a steeple plopped on top. Even the light is long and low now; it’s spectacular. The sky is black with thunderstorm, torrential rain interspersed with brilliant sun. Out of miles of nowhere there is now a small wooden building with a hand painted sign:
HATS DVDS SHADES