"Oh, We do have fun, don't we?"

I am grateful to my babysitter for my love of needlework. Mrs. Parker, 20 years older than my mother, was babysitter for my sister and me on the rare occasions our parents would go out. I didn't realize it at the time, but she was a talented folk artist and needle-worker and she shared those skills with us.

I remember spending an evening trying to thread a needle, and believing that it was impossible. But we learned embroidery and started a trip around the world quilt, which never progressed beyond a few rows. She tatted while we played or worked our projects and we would brush her long white hair. She would exclaim, "Oh, We do have fun, don't we?"

Her house smelled of wood smoke as she continued to heat with wood long after coal and gas were available. Her dining room table was piled high with the raw materials of her crafts--including wool coats purchased at rummage sales to be used for hooked rugs. She was inspired to make this Mondrian-like image from the design on a box of fireplace matches.

She was generous with the things she made. I have blown-egg Christmas ornaments, a needlebook, a bag for embroidery floss, a hooked rug, and somewhere a hankie with tatted edging.

Theresa had been a music teacher, but after the death of Theodore in 1940, she supported herself with door to door sales of Realsilk products: stockings, lingerie, and apparel. Since she didn't drive, she walked miles in this pursuit.

After we no longer needed a babysitter, Mrs. Parker always came to Thanksgiving dinner at our house. We were far from grandparents and other family members and so she became a surrogate grandmother. She died in 1982.

Her cheerfulness, creativity, and love of needlework provided a foundation for my own needlework adventures.

Peggy W. Norris

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