DOWNSIZING DILEMMA: THE PLIGHT OF OVERALL BOY AND SUE – Around The Frame

You read a lot of them in the newspapers and online these days: Estate auctions and tag sales with the word DOWNSIZING prominently in the title to alert the readers that whole lifetimes of possessions are soon to be sold as their soon-to-be-former owners move to smaller spaces that can’t accommodate their past lifestyle. How does one decide what to take and what to relent? It’s almost a “if the house was burning, what three items would you save” scenario.

I have become accustomed to the calls asking me whether I can assist in finding new homes for family quilts the kids don’t want. Reluctant to drop them off at a thrift shop where they will be sold for pennies on the dollar, families entrust them to me to sell them at a fair market price. It comforts the family to know their quilt was purchased by someone who will cherish it like they did.

Former South Wayne Elementary School teacher, Kay Bailey, who lives in the Waynedale area found herself in such a quandary. Her grandmother Josie Gump (the road was named after the family) Wollman, born in Auburn, Indiana in 1898 was a homemaker who raised two sons Kenneth and Bill on Fox Ave. where they attended South Wayne School. In the 1930’s Josie hand appliqued and quilted Sunbonnet Sue and Overall Boy quilts. She embellished each of the Sue’s bonnets making each of them unique. Overall Boy’s overalls were all created from the same fabric, but she gave each of them a different shirt. She designed the little triangular shape so a bit of shirt would show through the back of the overalls; a nice touch.

Years passed and Kenneth attends South Side High School where he meets Kay’s mother Barbara. After graduation and a four-year stint in the Army they marry in 1944. As a wedding present, Josie gifts them her Sue and Overall Boy quilts. Overall Boy’s quilt has a big label on the back indicating she made it in 1930 for Barbara and Ken who never use them. They are kept in their box and never see the light of day.

Barbara and Ken are blessed with two children Kay and David. Kay takes after her parents and has a fondness for collecting antiques. So, in 1985 when Kay marries Bill Bailey at the Waynedale United Methodist Church Barbara and Ken gift them the two quilts which they in turn never use.

Now Kay is at a point in her life where she needs to find them new homes. As any antique lover, she wants to make certain they will be treasured. She turned to me for advice and I assured her there is someone out there who would love her quilts. It may take some time, and it might even be someone who lives outside the USA, but somewhere out there is a little boy and girl who will blissfully sleep under the Sues with all of their different bonnets and the boys in the overalls!

Lois Levihn

She is the author of the "Around the Frame" quilting column. She is a graduate of Wayne HS. Quilts have always been important to her, she loves the stories surrounding them, the techniques used in making them, & restoring them.

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> More Articles Written By This Writer

Lois Levihn

She is the author of the "Around the Frame" quilting column. She is a graduate of Wayne HS. Quilts have always been important to her, she loves the stories surrounding them, the techniques used in making them, & restoring them. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer