July 10, 2007
Lumpkin --- Hundreds of babies born to Stewart Countians over the years get a special gift from a lady who gives a handcrafted blanket to mark the happy occasions. But, the tradition might stop.
Sometimes, a person's significant historical items aren't stored in a library or a bank vault with steel doors.
Jeralyn Buchan stores a family heirloom in a white box, and occasionally pulls it out of the cabinet as two year-old Hanna reaches to get it.
"We have it put up for her so she can remember it," says Jeralyn, who put the treasured memory in a safe place, close-by, to see, to touch, and to remember its eternal value. "It symbolizes family to me," says Jeralyn as she opens the box.
Inside and wrapped in special paper lies a piece of white cloth with fancy stitching around the edges.
"It was her favorite blanket for church," says Jeralyn as she caresses the white blanket with pink flowers and an intricate, crocheted border.
"I enjoy giving them to the little babies around," says Ruby Westbrook as she crochets the edge of a blanket that will one day wrap a newborn.
Hundreds of babies around Stewart County received Ruby Westbrook's love blankets over the years.
Mothers instantly spot Ruby's gift that she wraps attractively. They know a special blanket sits inside, a handmade gift just for their child.
A baby born in the summer gets a light weight blanket; a baby born in the winter gets one made of flannel. A relative's baby got one of each.
She wishes that she knew how many she's given away. "Sometimes wish I had started counting when I first started making them," says Ruby.
Crocheting blankets for so many years she doesn't remember even when she started. But why does she spend hours and hours crocheting intricate designs. "Seems like I just want my hands to be busy," says Ruby.
Her hands stay busy every waking moment and she doesn't take a nap during the day, either.
She has a stockpile of baby blankets sitting on the dining room table. Seventeen of them for boys, and 16 for girls, and if she comes close to running out for some reason, she has a stockpile of material ready to make more.
She's already made blankets for her future grandchildren and great, grandchildren.
Crocheting has become automatic for her because she's done it for literally decades. "Don't have to look at what I'm doing to crochet," says Ruby.
But, at 88, her eyesight has started failing. She uses a lighted magnifying glass to see how to thread needles, but she will see to it that her tradition continues.
"I'll carry on the tradition that my mother started," says Wanda Singer, her daughter while taking her first crocheting lesson.
It took a few minutes for Wanda to realize that looks are deceiving.
"My mother makes it look very simple, but I think it's going to be more difficult than I anticipated," says Wanda, who will secure the family tradition for another generation with her mom's blanket approval.