Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Grandpa's Ties

One of my personal goals, especially now that I have all my stuff in one place, is to restore my loom to functionality and start weaving again. I learned to weave when I was at Berea College, and was assigned to the college Weaving Studio as my first student job there. Bill Roberts was a great teacher, and I was soon given the privilege of weaving rag rugs. When I graduated from Berea, my Aunt Linda gave me a simple two pedal loom that she didn't use much to keep up my skills. I had it set up in my mobile home while I was in grad school and made about a dozen rugs before I graduated, and the loom went in to storage in my mother's basement.

That was, jeez, twelve years ago.

So it's long past time for me to get the loom going again. My cute little house in Hilo has a great underneath-space for the loom and I spent some of last night putting bits and pieces together. It's almost all set up...I've just got those one or two pieces that I can't quite figure out exactly where they go. Looking at the pictures I've got from when the loom was still set up, I'm realizing that the last piece should have been put in before it was all framed up and tightened down. Gotta tear it back down almost to the starting point to get the last piece in. Grrr.

Anyway, while I was organizing all the supplies, I came across my bags of goodies that I had planned to use in rugs. There's a tangle of wool strips that might make one or two rugs, that I still want to use up. And there was a box full of my Grandpa's ties.

Grandpa (my Dad's dad) passed away while I was in grad school at North Carolina State University in (and I'm gonna feel bad when I get the year wrong) 1996 or 1997. My sister flew in from Nebraska and rode with me to Virginia for his funeral. I had missed my Grandma's funeral a year or two before because I was in Guatemala for the month with a school trip, and I didn't want to make that drive by myself. I was so glad my sister was there. I remember thinking at the memorial service that the plots were in a beautiful spot, with a soul-restoring view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

My Dad and Aunt Nancy spent the next few days cleaning out 50+ years of accumulated goods from their parents' house. I asked for Grandpa's ties, thinking that I could weave something from them. My sister asked for the linens (really high quality, and amazingly soft after so many years of use and washing) and some of Grandma's mixing bowls. She also got Grandpa's marbles, which she gave to me for Christmas a few years back. She told me now I never have an excuse to lose my marbles.
Last night, I went through the ties. There must be about 50 or 60 of them. All kinds and colors. I remember Grandpa as being fairly dapper, but the breadth of his tie collection is really quite astounding. There's even about a dozen bow ties. The ties are from a variety of stores, including a who's who of good quality clothiers in Southwestern Virginia. Here are some of my favorites:

I'm not sure where this blue and brown paisley one came from, but it's hand stitched on the back, and looks from the wear on it that it was one of Grandpa's go-to ties.

This blue and yellow and white striped one is one of the bow-ties. I remember Grandpa wearing them on occasion, especially when he was being whimsical.

The green-striped and orange flowered tie is amazing...almost five inches wide at the widest point, it's lined on the inside with purple cloth. Love it!
I don't know which of his granddaughters (he had four) gave him this bit of pastel luminosity...I can't quite imagine him buying it for himself. But I am sure he wore it, full of pride and love.

The yellow, white and brown striped tie is 100% silk, or "All Silk" as the label says, from Pride of England. It too, is monstrously wide. It was "Made Expressly for Norman Stockton, Winston Salem, N.C."

And my favorite of all, are these two, dark plaid and striped. The labels on them say, "Hand Made by Nancy Buzby." She was quite the seamstress, that Nancy...first the pin cushion when she was four, then these beautiful hand-stitched ties.

I teared up a little last night as I was going through these ties. So many memories of good people who helped make me who I am today.


Dad said...

I am so pleased to continue to learn about what happened to the things my Mom and Dad had. Nancy and I had quite a struggle emptying the house and deciding what to keep etc. Several of the ties you pictured were, as I remember, made by your Mom for Christmas and/or birthday presents. She was quite the excellent seamstress and made many really nice things for you and Vicki.

Thanks for sharing!

Victoria said...

OMG, I remember a few of those ties!

It was 1996. Alex was about 4 mos old, I think, and he was blowing bubbles during the church service, so you and Jay and I were sitting up front snickering during the sermon. We figured that Grandpa would have liked that fine.

The marbles were always for you, I just kept them for you for a while.

Mom said...

I made the paisley tie. I don't remember that I made any of the others you pictured, but I may have. That one just sticks in my mind.

I was going to take the whole bunch of them to one of those do-it-yourself dry cleaning machines and clean them for you. Consider the way of all good intentions....sorry I never got it done for you.

Were the labels still on the loom? Linda and I labeled each piece and it's corresponding place when we dismantled it. I'm glad it's back up and working!

Just a Girl said...

I did finally get the last piece of the loom back in the right place. So it should work now. The pictures and labels were a big help in getting it back together. I just need to get some warping material, and find my book about how to set it all up, and I'll get started again. The weaving thing has to go on the back burner for now, though, until I get my grad school applications done. Been putting those off for far to long.

Nancy said...

Well, Charlotte, you did it again - made me cry! I loved the story of Grandpa's ties, and I do remember making the plaid ones. I also remember all of the ones in the pictures. I'm glad those really wide ones didn't stay in style! I loved it when he wore bow ties, which he did fairly often, particularly after he retired. He died June 17, 1996, and Grandma died January 20, 1995. So you were pretty close - I'm impressed.

Thank you for the wonderfully moving story of the ties to bring back such fond memories. Your dad and I spent two weeks (!) cleaning out their house - I couldn't have done it without him, that's for sure! We laughed and we cried as we found items we remembered from childhood and life on Windsor Ave. Remember the handkerchief mouse? I still have one, and I think your dad does, too. When you come visit, we can reminisce about those wonderful years.

Thank you for your story and your kindness in including my handiwork of long ago!