From My Childhood – Doilies, Rugs, and Pinocchio Dolls

Ma's homemade craftwork

Ma’s homemade craftwork

March 25 – When my mother wasn’t busy cooking or gardening, she found the time to crochet, even though a part of her finger and thumb were missing, having been shot off in an accident when she was a young person. Variegated green, gold, red, or violet doilies, along with the ecru or pure white ones, were starched stiff when finished.

Crocheted rugs were always (p)art of our existence when we were kids. Old silk stockings were cut round and round and then wound into huge balls to make material for the rugs. Men’s socks, with the heel and toe first cut out and then cut round and round, were also wound into balls to be crocheted into warm rugs that always gave our cold toes a warm place to walk on. Ma tried to teach me how to crochet rugs too, but I was not as successful as were most of my brothers. My rugs always curled up at the edges, and looked more like hats than rugs in the beginning states, and I never had enough patience to finish one.

Some of Ma's afghans

Some of Ma’s afghans

Christmas time gave Ma the only inspiration she needed to put her real creativity to work. Since Pa’s money went to provide the necessities of life and the tons of coal that disappeared in the old heating stove, Ma had to use her talents and imagination to make Christmas presents. Rag dolls with yellow yarn hair and outlandish outfits, rouged cheeks and button eyes, made me glad I lived in a home like ours. Long-legged Pinocchio dolls that took hours and hours of work stuffing those skinny arms and legs and more long hours making clothes for them, also appeared under the tree.

But the special gift that Ma always made for me each year was the red felt Santa Claus with his embroidered boots and belt, the lining from an outgrown sheepskin coat for his beard, and stuffed with cotton batting. How I wish he had not disappeared, for he is one of the really treasured memories of my childhood. Several years ago, our son presented me with a similar Christmas gift that took me back to those old days. Inside a shoe box was a Santa, with the usual sack on his back, and the beard and cap and boots. It was given in tribute to Ma who had first started the tradition. – CHRIS

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