I’m In Alabama

Mary Ann Pettway in front of the Gee's Bend Collective
Mary Ann Pettway in front of the Gee’s Bend Collective

I walked out of the Montgomery Airport removing layers of clothing.  Once in the rental car I even took off my socks.  I haven’t been so warm in almost a year.  I opened the car windows and drove down Highway 80 towards Gee’s Bend.  So many good things had happened since I landed in Alabama.  I got a text from Jon that he had a new book contract, then Mary Ann called me to make sure I was on my way, and when I called Jon back he told me that Liam the lamb had a broken rib.  I know the last may not sound like good news, but I was afraid it was worse for Liam, a broken rib could heal.  I found myself singing I’m in Alabama, as I drove along.  I couldn’t help myself, along with all the good news, everything around me was green and there were wildflowers blooming on the side of the road, and I was on my way to Gee’s Bend.

A hour and a half later, I turned left at the stop sign at the end of the road and saw the Gee’s Bend Collective on the right, just as Mary Ann said it would be.  I noticed the hand written sign asking people not to take any photo’s inside the building.   Mary Ann was sitting at long table writing out labels and we hugged like old friends.  I got a quick look around then followed Mary Ann back to her house, so I could rest after my trip and she could finish up her work.  We drove down an orange dirt road and pulled up in front of a one story brick house.  Four or five kittens snuggled together in a crate on the front porch.  Mary Ann showed me my room, on the bed was a quilt made by her Aunt Queenie Pettway.  I immediately felt at home.

Mary Ann got back around 3 o’clock and from then until 7pm or so we sat in her living room talking. (In between phone calls, Mary Ann is very popular)  We watched a video of the PBS special of her and some of the other quilters.   In it Mary Ann sang her favorite song “I Don’t Want Nobody Praising Over Me When I’m Gone”.  Then Mary Ann cooked us a delicious dinner of chicken, dressing,(my first time having dressing)  sweet potatoes and biscuits.

Tomorrow we’ll take the ferry to Camden then do some work at the  Gee’s Bend Collective.

Quilt by Queenie Pettway
Quilt by Queenie Pettway

19 thoughts on “I’m In Alabama

  1. You sound great Maria! What an adventure! That quilt is just lovely.
    PS: The dinner sounded delicious!

  2. What an adventure! Soak it all up! (Was funny about your socks! I travel to Wisconsin from Tennessee and have landed with snow on the ground after leaving Tennessee in summer clothes! Hard to fathom!)

  3. So very happy for you, Maria, and that warmth must feel wonderful after the winter we’ve had up here.
    I remember exactly where I was when I read the book about the Gees Bend quilters and have been enthralled ever since. I’m so inspired by your visit!

  4. Maria, it sounds like you’re having a great adventure! I love the pictures you’re posting. Enjoy your time there!

  5. Mary Ann Pettway sounds like a beautiful woman.
    You are in good hands.
    Sending love and blessings to all of the women there.

  6. Maria, how glad I am for you to enjoy the experience of a lifetime. I can’t wait to read and see more of your experiences with your new friends at Gees Bend. Mary

  7. And I know that the dressing wasn’t Stove Top out the box!! Yummy. We do have some good food down here. Welcome! and best wishes for a wonderful, wonderful visit!!

  8. So awesome, what a great adventure! Don’t you love it how women can meet and let what they both love bind them together like old friends in 5 minutes!? Enjoy every moment!

  9. Maria, I share your reverence for those Gee’s Bend quilts and quilters! Art, and artists. You are so lucky, what an adventure!! That quilt on the bed is beautiful. Your photo really shows the texture and softness of the quilts.

    Have fun!


  10. I live in GA, & its a shame I’ve never been over to Gees Bend. I have heard much about it, & I am enjoying your blog. What is the name, publisher, etc. of your Gees Bend book? Thanks for all you are sharing. Mary Ann

    1. It’s Gee’s Bend the women and their quilts. Don’t know the rest of the info, since I don’t have my book with me, but you can google it and find out.

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