Friday, April 22, 2011

Stories not told

Recently my friend Pat and I attended an exhibit of quilts put on by the American Folk Art Museum. Over a cup of tea early that morning, I read that we would see 650 red and white quilts - part of a single woman's collection of over 1,000 red and white quilts. It was almost as hard to imagine looking at 650 quilts of the same colors as it was to imagine collecting them. 

It was breathtaking.

There's a wonderful story behind the exhibit. Joanna Semel Rose started buying quilts at flea markets in the 1950's. Over the years she bought red and white quilts wherever she went and carefully put them away. She had no idea how many quilts she had and hadn't ever seen many of them at the same time. For her 80th birthday, her husband arranged to exhibit her quilts and, as a gift to the city of New York, admission to this exhibit was free. 

Can you imagine how she must have felt when she walked into this huge armory to find herself surrounded by these prized possessions? What memories were stirred as she wandered among them, touching some, gazing up at others?

Sadly, the other six hundred and fifty stories of the exhibit were left untold. "If only they could talk," Pat and I kept saying to each other. "What stories they would tell."


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