It's my third day in a row at the Courthouse Chamber. I feel like the cowboys in Sudie's story....all warm and fuzzy with home and hearth in my heart. I know that sounds kinda sappy, but it is the only way to describe how this place and these women have become such an important part of my day.
When I arrived today, dragging my Quilt Bag stuffed with a newly made padded cushion that fit the assigned folding chair, The Armadillo Squad was gathered around Sudie and an old quilt...and I mean old as in frayed binding, worn thin calicos and clumped cotton batting that had settled within the quilted pieces after many washings and many days and nights of being tucked between bedsprings and mattress. It was obvious that the quilt was special to Sudie, who was pointing out a block in the middle of the quilt, "This here block is stained with my Granddaddy Chaps blood." You could hear a pin drop as we all collectively uttered, "Oh my, Sudie, how did that happen?" Sudie motioned for us all to have a seat as she settled in her chair with the tattered and blood stained quilt draped across her lap.
As I was telling you earlier, Grandmother MaryJo stitched every night around the campfire on what was to be their last cattle drive on the Chisolm Trail. It wasn't common for a woman to be on a cattle drive, but 'Jo', as she was called by the cowboys, was as much a drover and wrangler as she was a chuckwagon cook. She had been on the Chisolm Trail many times with her Daddy, my GreatGrandpa John. He was a Trail Boss who was entrusted by other ranchers to drive herds of Texas Longhorns to market in Abilene, Kansas. You see, it was just after the Civil War when cattle in Texas were plentiful and sold for four dollars a head. In the North and East folks would pay forty dollars a head ... making the 'Drive' on the Chisolm Trail worth the time it took, and the dangers encountered along the way.
Sudie rearranged the quilt in her lap so we could better see the piece with 'Chap's Blood Stain', and continued with her story.....
.....Lordy, I got off the subject a bit. Anyways, this here material was the shirt MaryJo was wearing the day she held her bleeding husband next to her bosom. She pieced it into this quilt so as to never forget that day and their last 'Cattle Drive on The Chisolm Trail.
With that, Sudie rolled up the quilt, rose from her chair and declared it time for the Armadillos to get back to quilting on Bea and Irene's Bluebonnet Flower Garden. We all sat glued to our chairs, our mouths agape with the questions we all blurted out at once. "Wait, Sudie! Did Chap get shot? Was it Indians? It was Rustlers, wasn't it? Oh my, was it a stampede?"
"Goodness what imaginations you gals have, Sudie laughed. Jo's bosom was pressed against Chaps ear after he yelled....
Damnit, Jo, you dang near cut off my ear. Give me that razor, I'll shave myself."
Reference: Chisolm Trail ~ Wikipedia
See Ya, tomorrow for Letter D...Diane's Double Weddin'