Saturday, January 9, 2010

Songs by Alpha Cleary

Alpha Patton Cleary was my piano teacher when I was a child.  I started this quilt in a workshop I took with members of my quilt guild when I lived in Gallup, New Mexico.  I thought I'd send it to Mrs. Cleary when it was finished.  That was about 20 years ago.  I was handquilting it on a frame.  It went through at least five moves wrapped around the poles of the frame.  I worked on it periodically, but I never managed to get it completed and off the frame.  Mrs. Cleary died (well past the age of 100), and I just let the quilt remain on the frame.
Sometime last year I decided I really needed to finish it; so the rest of it was quilted on the machine.
I couldn't find any fabric in my stash that would work for the binding, despite the fact that I have plenty of fabric from the same era as the fabric in the quilt, so Judy (of the Dresden Plates and many other quilts) took the quilt, rounded the corners (because she doesn't like applying binding to square corners), and finished it for me.  It will now go to someone needing prayers for healing.

Alpha Patton Cleary was the daughter of the dentist in El Paso, Illinois.  She was an extremely gifted pianist.  When she was quite young, her parents allowed her to take the train from El Paso to Peoria thirty miles away to study with a special piano teacher.  Later they allowed her to join a vaudeville company.  She was in her sixties when my sister and I took lessons from her; we enjoyed her tales of vaudeville at least as much as our lessons!  When her husband retired from Pfister Hybrids, they moved to Sunnyvale, CA to be near one of her daughters, and the parents of one of my classmates bought their beautiful home on Elmwood Court. Her last years were spent back in Illinois as a resident of the Meadows Mennonite Home. I got to revisit the home a few years ago because one of my closest high school friends owned the home, which they've since sold. I have so many precious memories of the living room in that house, Mrs. Cleary's beautiful ebony grand piano, and the intriguing chaise lounge that sat near it.

Mrs. Cleary taught scores of young people to play the piano.  Her legacy lives on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

More beautiful quilts!


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