Needlework, Finishing, Designing, Quilting, Some Discoveries and Adventures in Stitching from Windy Ridge Designs

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Special - Very, Very Special

On September 19, 1898 a very special little girl was born - Ethel May Ogden.  Her mother, Alice, had previously given birth to her half-sister, Virginia (Virgie) in 1894.  But Alice was married to Frank Ogden and both girls had a loving father.  Frank worked as a huckster - a street vendor in downtown Wilmington.  In 1900 the little family lived just off Market Street.  But, by 1910, something had gone wrong.  Ethel and her sister were living with their grandparents, Alice's mother and father Isaac and Ellathera Genn.  On May 2, 1901 Frank Ogden was pronounced dead - concussion of the brain being found as the cause.  What happened to Alice is unclear; she lived her life until she passed away in 1947.  But her two girls were raised by her parents.

The Genn Family 1913
Above, Ethel is shown with some of her Genn Family relatives.  Her grandmother, Ellathera, is at center in the back.  Ethel and my father were first cousins - her mother Alice was sister to my father's mother Ella May who is in the back on the left.  My father is the little blond one in front.  Ethel was a lovely young lady at 15 and probably more so as she aged.

On October 24, 1919 she married John Wesley Gainor.  He'd managed to come back alive from the Great War.  Her sister, Virgie and husband Edgar were their witnesses when they were married by the Reverend R.H. Adams pastor of the Union Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington.  John was what they call a long, tall, cool drink of water.  He was very handsome in some of his early photos and became distinguished with age.

I first met Ethel and John when I was 12 at the memorial services for my grandmother.  My father then did not have a great deal of contact with his family - and few were left.  There was only Ethel and her sister.  I met Virgie too.  I remember she smelled wonderful and the apartment she lived in was very chic.  But Ethel and John were like a big warm hug and I took to them like a duck to water.  I never knew my grandparents on either side and from the moment I met them, I thought of Ethel and John as my grandparents.  I loved to sit and listen to them tell stories.  Stories about their lives.  And I could ask Ethel anything.  I loved to sit and hold her hand because her hands were so incredibly soft.  And I asked her - Ethel, why do you only have two fingers on this hand?  It was her left hand.  Her pinky, ring and middle fingers went only to the first knuckle.  She wore her wedding ring on the stub of her ring finger.  And she told me that once, a long time ago, she'd run her finger under the needle of the industrial sewing machine that they used to make awnings and that the doctor's had to amputate her fingers.  Ethel and John ran Gainor Awnings - supplying window awnings to nearly all the homes and businesses in greater Wilmington.  It had been a terrible accident.  But Ethel wasn't fussy about it; never tried to hide her hand and would sit there and let me hold that hand for hours.  And it was Ethel and John that showed me that a married couple -whatever their age - can be completely gaga over each other.  Rarely did he ever call her "Ethel".  His name for her was "Girlie".  He'd be telling a story and say "Isn't that right, Girlie?" or we'd be eating dinner and he'd say "Pass the potatoes, Girlie."  And I'd sit there thinking how I wanted someone to call me "Girlie" someday.  My goodness, that woman was special to me.

Ethel and John eventually gave up their home in New Castle and moved to an apartment where we continued to go up and visit them.  Then they had to go into assisted living because Ethel had started to forget things.  That was long before we knew about Alzheimers Disease.  John died in 1986 and Ethel basically forgot everyone.  She lived nearly another decade before passing herself in 1993 at the age of 95.  She lived a good long life and was a terrific lady.

So of course, the September block of Anniversaries of the Heart had to be for Ethel.  I omitted the gray blobs.  They looked more like snow to me and it doesn't snow in the Mid-Atlantic in Spetember.  I would have made them yellow and called them fireflies (I think that would have gone well with the mothra theme), but I chose not to introduce another color into the block.

And here's the big WOWWIE of the week - I've finished "The Chase" sampler  . . . .

"The Chase" finished - after 7 months
I told my husband that I feel like I passed my final exam with this one.  And he said he wants it framed and hanging in the house.  Sandra, who so kindly provided me with the part of the instructions that I was missing, recently wrote and told me that her daughter now wants hers in the worst possible way.  I think my youngest son has his eyes on mine.  My answer - over my dead cold dying hands.

And finally, I have a finish for a client that I want to show you.  Here is Milady's Fan's all sewn up -

The whole quilt; then a detail of the gold quilting in the center and a detail of the black quilting on the outside border.

Hope you enjoyed!


  1. Thanks for telling us about Ethel...she must have been a very special lady. Lovely stitching on the block in memory of her! Congrats on finishing the Chase, it's beautiful! That quilt is gorgeous! You do beautiful work!

  2. Thank-you for sharing your story about Ethel. How fortunate you were to have such a special lady in your life. She reminds me of my grandmother. The Chase sampler is absolutely gorgeous! Pretty quilt too.

  3. Ummm, okay, so I feel like a TOTAL slouch after seeing all of your beautiful finishes!! To quote my daughter, wow wow wee wa! They're GORGEOUS. Your Chase sampler is fantastic--I always tell my kids that they'll get this sampler or that sampler once I pop my clogs. The quilt for your client is absolutely stunning--wow. I loved reading about Ethel, too, and her block is a testament to what a special lady she was. It's so nice to have something like AotH so that those who have left us live on--a tangible memory to share with others.

  4. As I was reading your current post, I noticed that you mentioned a finish on your Chase sampler! What??? How did I miss THAT? I scrolled down and sure enough, there it was...The Chase Sampler in all its glory. Katherine, it is absolutely stunning! Congratulations on such a magnificent piece. Now, I am thinking I might have to pull mine out and start on it! Again, congrats on such a wonderful piece.


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