Tea, Crumpets, and Quilts

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Christmas in Como 2011All Hallows’ Eve and goblins have just vanished as of this November first morning. Both last minute and last evening, David made up his mind that he would dress as the Count Dracula. All he lacked was a pair of plastic fangs. Halloween guest Annie Oakley, (Mary Dustin) sped off to the Como dollar store. Too late, no fangs, it’s Christmas now. There was not a trace of orange or black – just red and green. We were all shocked and thought it was a trick, waiting for her to laugh and hand over the fangs. You snooze you lose unless you go as Santa. I quickly grabbed a pretty blue bottle of Balsamic Vinegar and told him he could be a snake oil salesman, like one we had recently seen in an old western film. Other characters that came over to contribute candy for the cause were: Zombie Kyle Hooper, our new preacher at the church of Christ along with his witchy wife Rebecca who is lovely in real life. Also here were: Frankenstein’s monster – Ulises Calderon; Eighties rock star Joan Jet – Yareli Calderon, a beautiful butterfly- Yamarashi; a princess bunny rabbit- Tamara; and Pocahontas- their mother Lupe. A woman wearing a black beret draped with a very smart looking matching cashmere shawl pretending to have left Como to reside in Paris was Betty Drennan, and her husband Doug Gordon was dressed as – Doug Gordon. A reporter from The Southern Reporter came dressed as Donna Taylor. My favorite cowgirl doll from childhood happened to show up too. It was Jane West, wearing turquoise leather and fringe right down to her boots, shooting a pistol. Guess who that would be. Many rounds later, David confiscated the plastic cap gun. It was fun to see the kids handing the treats to their school chums and complimenting each other on their costumes.
Wal-mart has also decked the halls already. With this in mind I myself will rush in and tell you all about something well in advance concerning the Civic Club’s Christmas prelude tea on December eighth. The event is open to anyone reading this that would like to come. The festive tea will be served at our home, the Wardlaw-Swango house at 204 Sycamore Street in Como. The time is 3:30 to 5:30. In addition to the classic high tea menu of assorted pastry and delicate sandwiches and decadent desserts, guests will see and be able to purchase beautifully hand-made quilted art by Tutwiler Mississippi women quilters.
Como Civic Club Quilt
Tutwiler Quilters started in 1988 as a program of the Tutwiler Clinic Outreach Program in Tutwiler, Mississippi. This program helps women in the community use their skill making quilts in the African American quilting tradition to help support them and their families as well as preserve the quilt-making that is indigenous to the African American people in the Mississippi Delta. African American quilt making uses bold colors, a variety of designs, and bigger stitches. Originally, these quilts were made for warmth, so they were made very quickly. Improvisation is the key word in the quilt making technique of the Tutwiler Quilters. Their products include quilts, quilted bags, quilted placemats and table runners, and quilted wall hangings. Their quilts have appeared in various quilt shows from Biloxi to Dallas to Paducah, to San Jose; and were featured on the TV program “60 Minutes” and in the Smithsonian Museum Gift Shop in Washington, D.C.

Please join us for this delightful afternoon and enjoy a fine cup of tea and first choice of work to be later on sale during Christmas in Como. The Como Civic Club will have a raffle for a customized queen-size quilt. The tickets are five dollars each and ten dollars for three tries. You can purchase tickets as early as next week through me. Ask other members when you see them around town or at our table at Christmas in Como. Win and take it home that day. The design of the quilt was one I had bought when I first discovered their work in the delta blues museum in Clarksdale recently.
My friend Shakira Edison had just returned from her second home in Ghana Africa. Friend Naajee Thomas was with her. Naajee is the daughter-in-law of the late, great Memphis musician Rufus Thomas. These two women are very near and dear to me. They are also artists and exhibit their artwork at a few venues in Clarksdale. Shakira is a photographer who shoots her images of life in a small African village. My favorite print so far of her work is a statuesque slim woman, graceful and very erect, carrying a bundle on her head. A pile of wooden limbs maybe meant for a fire in her hearth that evening. Naajee fashions dolls after blues musicians with very detailed costumes and instruments and an African woman prosperity doll with streams of colorful fabrics and Mardi gras beads. These dolls will also be shown and for sale at the tea party.
Karen Meyer said that she along with other committee members of Christmas in Como were in search of a new way in which to market Como Town. How do we describe in few words what Como is all about and why people should visit here? When I think of Como I visualize and hear the train coming through town, then stopping at the depot once here. The old cotton gin is still in operation today. It is musical heritage that draws many from all over the world to learn about its roots and even record with Jimbo Mathus at his Delta Recording Studio next to the post office. This was the inspiration and basis for the special design for the Civic Club’s quilt that is now being especially made for our raffle. It is made from cotton. Some of the fabrics have musical notes, instruments and it will have silkscreened image of a train that has Como printed on the side of it.
Another great quilt maker right here in Como is Ada Mae Thomas, daughter of the late Othar Turner whose bronze blues marker is in the middle of down town. Ada made one for me a few years ago. It is completely made by hand with long stitches. She doesn’t work with a group of women. Day by day her busy hands work without a frame, stitching freely draped over herself on her bed. My friend sews not for profit but rather for the pleasure of keeping her loved ones warm. I have encouraged her to bring her quilts to sell at Christmas in Como that I’m sure will comfort you too.
David just interrupted my writing with a text message he received. Seems one of the firemen’s grandmothers has donated her hand made quilt for a raffle for the fire department for Christmas in Como. The monies generated by the Civic Club’s quilt raffle go to the fire department also. So I say there’s plenty enough to keep Como toasty this winter. The membership ship drive for the Civic Club, bake sale, chili cook off at our home last winter along with this year’s quilt raffle are efforts to raise the desperately needed funds for equipment that our volunteer firemen need to be able to rescue and save lives. We are a growing community that doesn’t even Jaws of Life or basic imaging equipment that can help identify the source of a fire or life in a building. Every time I hear the siren sound I think of them and how little they have to work with and how they risk themselves for us because of it. That’s my heartfelt and hard sell and why you should buy a bunch of raffle tickets from both our raffles.
Next week look for a story and history about an area train, Mr. Carrier, Sid Hemphill, Jimbo Mathus and the Mosquitoville show. Look for a story along rare photographs and history of Mr. Carrier’s line. If you would like to visit our home for tea and an interesting afternoon with the Tutwiler ladies, space is limited please RSVP to me at 526-1020 to be listed as a guest.

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