, pub-4503055424083402, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 MY COUNTRYLANE: Vintage Feathers With Gratitude

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21 January 2022

Vintage Feathers With Gratitude

 As I go through my home in my effort to continue downsizing (has it really taken that many years already?) I recently pulled out three big pillows. They are old and large and full. They are not soft and fluffy, they are hard as a rock. Unless you want to put one under your knees while laying on your back they are useless.

I've had these pillows for many years. They are my vintage feathers.

Nancy Burnham and James Cartwright
on their wedding day, 1875
When I was young my grandmother, Big Mama, had an old feather mattress. It had belonged to her grandmother, Nancy Burnham, who raised her. And it's very possible that Nancy's mother, Lovey McPherson (1830-1867), might have originally made the mattress. My great-grandmother Nancy lived from 1854-1932. This old feather mattress was covered in blue ticking that was disintegrating because of age. Since I was able to help and loved to hear her childhood stories we went into her back yard to transfer the feathers to a new home.

The mattress was for a full size bed, but it wasn't as large as full-size is now. It wasn't over stuffed so it was rather wobbly and we were able to squeeze the feathers to about half that original size. I had taken a large light-green blanket, folded it in half and sewed around the edges to make a giant bag. We crammed as many feathers in as we could and what didn't make it in the bag floated away on the wind or went to a trash can with the old ticking.

That green bag of feathers went with me to Ohio during my first marriage. It came back with me when that was over. When my kids were little the bag was taking up too much space so I downsized the feathers again and ended up with these three pillows.

Happy little bather
I'm pretty certain no one wants to keep these old feathers around for a memorial to ancestors they never met. I hate the thought of just tossing them in the woods or into the trash. I seriously doubt anyone would want to buy them. So I am thinking about having a burning in the fire pit one day.....just burn the three pillows and thank God for my ancestors who made me who I am today.

I've had my DNA done; I come from good solid North Carolina stock. Nothing elaborate, with no fancy genes from exotic places, just good hardworking people. And these feathers make me think on the hard times people had to endure back in the day. The unheated bedroom with several small children tucked under a heap of home made quilts (yes, I've got those too). I can picture these tough grandmothers of mine, outdoors beating the dust out of the mattress covers maybe once a year or so, just to freshen them up. I see the go-to-meeting Sunday best clothes they washed so carefully in a tub of well water. Or maybe even a child or two in a pan of water! Times were tough but the women were tougher. They grew their own food, plucked their own chicken dinners. They made do, or made it up, or didn't need it after all. Options weren't always plentiful. They lost a lot of babies and young children, so heartache was part of things. Good or bad, they got through everything.

We have things so easy these days, yet all you hear around you are complaints. Think of that feather mattress and then think of today's modern automated beds that heat you when you're cold and cool you when it's hot. Some even tilt when you snore... Life is so easy huh? So isn't it time to just be grateful for a change?