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Friday, September 12, 2014

Underground Railroad "Story" Continues

Dismay and disdain continue to plague me whenever I see yet another so-called "Underground Railroad" quilt hung in a show; another woman duped by an untrue story about how slaves were helped along the Underground Railroad by seeing quilts hanging on a line or by following a "secret quilt code" that did not exist until the late 20th century when it was concocted by a retired lawyer, Ozella McDaniel Williams. Oh, but who cares about the details? Certainly not the people making quilts to celebrate how clever Blacks were back "in the day" when they took their plight into their own hands, attempting to escape their bondage.

My words about the matter appeared extensively in print and have been referenced in a Black journal.

Just so you are not mistaken, this is not a Black v. White issue. Rather, it is a matter of history and in particular quilt history. To my dismay, on March 19, 2015, somewhere in Iowa, a talk is scheduled called "Underground Railroad Quilts." Oh my! I am so happy that I am not attending. I wouldn't be able to stand sitting there in my seat, squirming and wanting to scream, "No!" Unfortunately, a friend is attending. She plans to listen and not make a peep as she is suddenly "shy," new to the group, and doesn't want to make enemies.

I had files on my website and at one time, a recorded message. I have replaced all of it with the sentiment that I "feel sorry" for anyone who believes this new American myth. It is just one more example of how history has "changed" and how facts get lost because they are not pleasant.

As a quilter, don't you like happy things like color and design more than a pack of historical lies and misinterpretations? I do. To that end, I have been quilting more and online less, having given up Facebook and most other social media. If it doesn't matter what I have to say about the "secret quilt code," I do not care to continue to share details on my website. I know the difference and so do a whole lot of others. It seems to be the charlatans that are most into reciting the "code" and interpreting. They fail to realize that the author of the book, Hidden in Plain View, called his book "pure speculation." I have heard tales of the extremes to which speakers take the misinformation.

Other News

Today is a windy day and sunny. The air is brisk and fresh and hints of the cooler nights. Just for fun yesterday, we took a trip to Keepsake Quilting. I wanted to buy a number of things I saw in the catalog and it was a misty/rainy day. One of the items I'd been wanting for awhile: an assortment of Aurifil 50 Mako thread. I love it! It is a multi-use thread for hand piecing and hand quilting. and machine quilting. I actually wanted two assortments but the store was out of the other, the Darlene Zimmerman thread collection. Today, I called to order the second assortment. They will be great for larger projects that I have going.

Just for fun I ordered a kit for a Christmas quilt with (real) lights that kept catching my eye in the catalog.

"Mark Twain" Yellow - A New Look for an Old House

A while ago, Jim discovered that the earliest paint applied to the outside of our home had been yellow. Who would have guessed? We decided to upgrade from a completely gray house to a yellow one and began looking to see what was available. We found some "Mark Twain" yellow paint at Lowe's. Today, Jim began painting with the yellow. It is rather "eye-popping' but pleasant and certainly quite a change! The house was gray for several hundred years.

I am feeling happy these days in my semi-retired state. The Quilter magazine and other magazine titles by All-American Crafts, Inc. no longer exist, although I have not received any official news. I have turned to a scholarly project with the intent of having it published. It is a topic that is fun and one that you would love! Stay tuned until next year!

Now, to get back to my projects! Enjoy the weekend!

Patricia Cummings
Quilter's Muse Publications


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