This story is dedicated to my mother and all those who are artist of the needle. We so enjoy your wonderful talent and applaud you.
Hettie Ruby grew up in the lean years of this country, right after the Great Depression.
When she was little, her mother dressed her in long brown dresses, brown stockings, and a bonnet. She hated her look so much that as soon as she lost sight of home, she’d roll down the stockings and get rid of the bonnet.
She lived in a very sparsely furnished house Her parents had one bedroom and the only other bedroom was for the seven children. Instead of glass, the windows were covered with oilpaper. Rats were seen running askance.
Hettie Ruby went to school and studied hard. She became the valedictorian of her class. She went west and became a nurse’s aid and cared for many in the burn center. During the war, she became known as Ruby the Riveter. She was one among women who became known as Rosie the Riveters to help the war effort.
She met a man on a trolley car in California who was to take her to the hills of Virginia, which was far, far from home.
Hettie Ruby became adept with the needle which she had learned at her mother’s knee so many years before. She took pieces of cloth and turned them into masterpieces. Each piece became more beautiful than the last. She made baby clothes. She made dolls (Indian, Cabbage Patch, dolls of every nation), and a baby to place in the crib at Christmas time to represent Jesus.
She made quilts of every hue and design. She fashioned her patterns from newspaper and then proceeded to use every scrap of cloth and every worn out dress or shirt to create her masterpieces. She made Shooting Star Quilts, Double Wedding Ring Quilts, Duck Quilts, Car Quilts, Baby Quilts.
People far and wide knew her as the artist of the needle, and they were ever so desirous of her talent or the objects she created.
As Hettie Ruby grew older, she reached out to the children and taught them the art of the needle.
You can hear it echoed throughout the Shenandoah Valley: Hettie Ruby, you touch the cloth and create a smile. You touch a child, and they are blessed with a little of God’s creativity – the art of the needle.