Naoma Morgenstein




Naoma Morgenstein




Naoma Morgenstein


Joanne Gasperik

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics / United Notions


Naples, Florida


Joanne Gasperik


Joanne Gasperik (JG): This is Joanne Gasperik. Today's date is April 9th. It is 12 minutes after 11 in the morning and I'm conducting and interview with Naoma Morgenstein in her home in Naples, Florida for Quilters' S.O.S. - Save our Stories. Thank you Naoma, for allowing me to interview you today. Tell me about the quilt that is hanging here behind you. Who made it? Who is it for? Describe it for us please.

Naoma Morgenstein: (NM): I started out to learn how to do Baltimore Album [appliqué.], wound up doing 18 squares. Intended to make it for a king-size bed. I have two daughters. Jill and Amy talked to me and said, 'Mom, Dad now works nights, so he sleeps during the day, and you're at home, so you sleep at night. When would that quilt be on the bed? Why don't you make two wall hangings?' So I decided that I would make two wall hangings, and so embarked on which ones should I put into which quilt and finally narrowed it down, since I have two daughters, that I would go by colors and subject. So as a result that is the findings for this quilt. And it will go to Jill. She already knows that she will be receiving it in a few years. She received my first full bed quilt, double-size, which was on my bed for 5 minutes and then went to Virginia to cover her bed, while she was working on her doctorate. So I get to sleep under that one when we visit. But aside from seeing that quilt I have no longer have seen that one, so I know that this will eventually wind up on her walls up in Maryland where she lives now.

JG: It's that pitiful wail, 'Oh, Mom, I love that quilt. Can I have it?' and you generously--

NM: Well I think I shocked them, because its 65 ½ inches square. And how many people have walls that will accommodate the 65" square quilt? [JG: True, yes.] So when the next Baltimore Album is put together and made, I have to figure out, how to make it smaller, [laughs.] because Amy's walls are not that large. [laughing.] She has quilts already on them.

JG: [laughing.] So you're going to hang on to this for a while. Do you intend to show it at other venues?

NM: Yes, I plan on showing it at the Naples Woman's Club contest, which then if it wins goes to a district, which then goes on to the State Convention, and--

JG: It has great promise.

NM: Well I'm hoping.

JG: It had great promise. [clock chimes in the background.] And who has seen it in the past now? Where have you shown it in the past?

NM: I've only shown it here, because I had finished it just this past fall. [JG: Good. nods.] The first entry was at the Naples Quilt guild.

JG: I see, I see. Describe the pattern, please for the viewer.

NM: Let's see. There is the strawberry leaves. [top left.] All of these [blocks.] basically are Elly Sienkiewicz's patterns, with changes that I had made. The center one is Hans Christian Anderson's, but I put my own design of elephants instead of swans around the outside edges. The next one was a dimensional class and so it's a circular type opening on top. [JG: Wreath.]

The second row is the hospitality pineapple, which is very much into my daughter's life: gourmet cooking, hospitality, always has company. The one in the center is one that started out to be Elly Sienkiewicz's pattern but I didn't care for the pineapple and the knife that she had in it. I took that all apart. I changed how I was doing part of the basket and added my own three-dimensional flowers. I was asked to do a class at the guild on three-dimensional flowers and so I used that as the basis of--

JG: Did you reduce the scale? Because the flowers seem smaller than they would be in--

NM: Well some of the flowers are my own. So therefore [JG: The scale is your own.] what I wanted to put in, so they're my own size and dimension. But the one, the rose in the center is still the same and the rose on the left are still the same. So there were changes and modifications and so forth on that one. I didn't do anything different on the reverse appliqué. [center row, right.] That basically is the same. It is the only one that I put the base birds on. She had many of them that had base birds or flowers. I didn't do those. The bottom row is very much the pattern that she had [wind chimes in the background.] and the same with the next one, which was the laurel. And the last one on the right, her pattern was the same as what I've done. But I added my four children's silhouettes, which I did with pen and ink. That was a feat, trying to do their silhouettes. So I enjoyed that. The border, there is a center heart which I liked very much that was in Elly Sienkiewicz's book, not a pattern. It was just in one of her pictures of one of her quilts. And then I made my own vines and the treatment that I did was to match the cross-hatching that I had done in the center. I did large and small stripes in the quilting going around it. As you'll notice, it is not the traditional red and greens that were used in the Baltimore Album. I am not a red lover. It bothers me to see too much red. And in Naples it's hot enough without red sitting on top of me. [JG laughs.] So when I went to match up a piece of material that I had, it didn't. I couldn't find the match to use as part of my border. It had had a small pink fleck within the material. So I didn't realize that I was going to wind up with pink in the dogstooth border. But that's what I wound up with, a pink mixture, blend and actually I think it adds to it. It's different.

JG: It makes it a lovely softened view of a Baltimore Album. Very nice it's beautiful. Aside from the fact that it's a gift, does this quilt have any other meaning for you when you made it?

NM: Yes, it was--something I hadn't planned on doing was Baltimore Album. But it sort of intrigued me because we were having classes at one of our local shops with one of our quilt guild members. There was something about--I missed the first group. And I decided that I was going to try Baltimore Album in the next group, and I enjoy appliqué. So to me it wasn't a matter of learning the appliqué, but it was a matter of learning the technique of Baltimore Album appliqué. So I signed up for the class and got hooked and wound up doing it for two years, instead of the one that I thought I would be doing for. And it's contagious, because as you realize, I did 18 squares and I've made I don't know how many others as gifts, and pillows and things of that sort. But it was just one of those things that if I hadn't gotten intrigued with what others were doing in that first class that I missed taking, I was determined to try it the next time.

JG: Well it's a low calorie addiction, at least.

NM: [laughs.] Hourly though. [both laugh.] I spend hours. One and two o'clock in the morning, because, 'oh, I'll just do a few more stitches.'

JG: Sure. Well generally how long, how many hours a week do you think you quilt? Today. Yesterday.

NM: It depends. If I find that its something I can sit and do, I'll put my frame up in the living room, moving many pieces of furniture around. But I'll put my frame up in the living room, with my back to the outdoors, so that I don't see the brightness of the light, but I can see it when I'm quilting with my back to the light. And that way I can either turn on the stereo or I can turn on a program that I might be watching. [JG nods: Yeah.] I can't really say how often. It depends upon what I am doing. I might be at the sewing machine doing something else, or I might be hand quilting something for a present. Something of that sort.

JG: So you have multiple projects--

NM: I have multiple projects. I have one that's been hanging in there now for about 3 years [laughs.] that I still have to get to the quilt frame.

JG: Yes. What quilt frame do you use for hand quilting?

NM: It's an old one that my children gave me back in early 80's because I was fretting at the hoop. A hoop is fine except you have to constantly keep moving. And it also leaves hoop marks. I prefer the frame. So I have an old frame, rather rickety in some respects. [laughs.] I keep saying I'm going to buy a new one but I haven't done it yet. It goes from a small size to a king-size quilt frame. [JG: Ah.] And I've done a king-size on it.

JG: Yeah, then you would have to move furniture. Wow, wow. Tell me about your interest in quilting. When did it begin?

NM: I guess it was kind of contagious. My mother had done a lot of sewing, cross-stitching, knitting and some crocheting. My grandmother was a crocheter and tatter. I didn't really pick up on those. I learned how to knit, never could figure out how to work the tatting shuttle. But when I went to college in North Carolina I learned to do weaving and things of that sort in my Art Education classes in Textiles. And how to spin the yarns and things of that sort. And I guess it sort of washed on me at that point, because we were in the textile country in North Carolina and we went to the Cone Mills and a few of the others in our textile class. It was fascinating to see how the material came off the machinery and how the air would bring the color up in certain dyes. And the others were put in different ways. Up until that point I was just plain a sewer. I had to sew most of my life because I could never find clothes to fit me. They didn't make 2's and 4's then. Now I have no problems. But then you just didn't find it. So I was more into sewing than I was anything else. My mother did a little bit of quilting, but not much. But my father's aunt made a quilt for me for my first wedding in 1953. She started it in--I guess when I was teaching on Long Island I went over to her house and watched her quilt. And I think that's when the bug really got me, was back in the early 50's. I kept saying I'm going to quilt, I'm going to quilt. And my quilting was more a lot of pillows, small things that I could do easily. And then finally there was a group of people in Litchfield County in Connecticut, I was now in Connecticut, and I decided I was going to join this group. And I did, and we met at one of the women's who was a farmer, a dairy farmer. And they had converted the barn area into a quilt space. So we would be there where they had broken out some of the stalls and that. They set up tables and had a quilting class. It was because they had worked with the – I'm trying to think of the name of the group in Litchfield County [Litchfield County Extension Service.]. You then had to teach someone else. So these two women, Dolly and--Dolly especially was very good at it. And Millie was the down-home type quilter. But between the two of them, you wound up learning every facet of quilting that you possibly could in a--I'll say about 6 or 7 weeks. And you'd go every week and you had to have a project that you brought back. So it was an incentive to me. And I vowed when I finished working with the Women's Clubs [Connecticut State Federation of Women's Clubs.] that when I finished my stint in Federation, because I wound up as State President, and with 16,000 women I just didn't have time to spend on quilting, except small projects. So I would take knitting or quilting with me when I went to conventions and when I went to the international board meetings around the United States I would always carry something with me to do. But it was still not anything that I wanted to do big. So when I finished my term as State President even though I was still on the international board, I decided the only way I was going to get something done was to sign up for an Adult Ed class [in Torrington, CT.] with these two women that I had worked with before. And yes, there were a lot of beginners in the group, but that was not a problem with Dolly and Millie because they knew that I knew how to quilt. It was a question of if I went I knew I had to have something done for the next week. So that was my incentive. 1981 it really took off, but as of the –I would say anywhere from the 50's through the 70's I was doing small projects, but not really anything that I could claim was perfecting a stitch or learning a technique. So in the 70's, '71 I think it was, was when I really started to take off with quilting. '81 was when I finished my first double quilt, which was on my bed for 5 minutes. My daughter was leaving that morning for Virginia. She was doing her doctorate work. She graduated from Boston University and was doing her doctorate work on a fellowship down at the University of Virginia. 'And Mom, I need a bedspread. Do you have a bedspread?' Well, you know, 'Gee mom I helped you pick out the fabric'. And she did. [both laugh.]

JG: Propriety.

NM: So the quilt went with her. And when we visited her, especially after she was married and had a spare bedroom, we wound up sleeping under the quilt. So I did get to sleep under the quilt. [laughs.]

JG: Finally. [laughs.] So your first quilt memory, was that in '53 with your aunt or do you have quilt memories--

NM: It was basically with my aunt [both are talking at the same time.] [JG: That's your first quilt memory.] And she made the most beautiful wedding quilt for my first husband and myself. Unfortunately you do horrible things to quilts. And what I learned was that you do –my second husband worked mostly evenings. So he would try to catch a nap in the afternoon and rather than taking the quilt off the bed we would put a sheet across the top. Sheet across the top of appliqué and beautiful handwork does not work. And I could find the stitches starting to go. I couldn't replace the materials. I tried. They didn't match, which was difficult. And so my 1953 quilt wore out on one half. What I should have done was saved at least half of that quilt. Unfortunately when you're moving you do some very rotten, rotten, miserable things, and I did. [clock chimes in the background.] [JG: Oh, my.] I gave it away, and I shouldn't have.

JG: We learn. We constantly learn. And we learn about restoration, and what can be done there too.

NM: But the whole one side of the quilt was worn, from putting a sheet on top of it. [JG: Yeah. Oh, how sad. Oh.] I learned the hard way about something you don't do. You just take the quilt off the bed, [JG: Sure, sure.] if you have to.

JG: How does quilting impact your family?

NM: How does it impact my family? I cooked less. [both laugh.] We ate off the grill, which is my husband's specialty. My children are very understanding. It didn't wash off on Jill, except, 'Gee, Mom, I really like that quilt.' Amy, it has washed off over the years. She is now doing quilts, machine quilts. Haven't gotten her to the stitch-stage yet, but she's doing machine quilting. For Christmas her children helped pick put the material and Kevin gave his expertise and they made me a--I guess you'd call it a "hug quilt." She was the one that, well both my girls were extremely understanding. One was in cancer research and the other is a nurse, recovery room nurse. And Amy came to visit. [I.] just never seemed to have a small--I gave my small blankets away to the girls, when we moved down south. Because we weren't going to need them down here. So she made me this one that will fit over our sofa and me so that I could take naps while I was recovering from my chemo and radiation treatments. It's great. I have to show it to you. It has all the colors for lymphoma and a brightness and very simplistic. [Naoma goes to the next room to retrieve the quilt.] But it is great. There are your lymphoma colors. [JG: Oh yes. There are rich, rich jewel-tones.] She's into making baby quilts. [JG: Excellent.] And this one's the [inaudible. the lanai door alarm chirps and Marvin, NM's husband, comes in.] This one's for me as a result it's been great and we sleep under it and it's been great, even on the cold nights we've had, we just throw an extra quilt on.

JG: Right. Oh, my. It's beautiful. Do you want to run and put that in water?

NM: Yes.

JG: I'll stop--[tape is turned off. Marvin had brought in a broken stem of a beautiful orchid, which Naoma placed into a vase.] The tape was turned off briefly to rescue a broken off orchid and put it into water. We were talking about quilting impacting your family. But you clearly make a lot of quilts for gifts. So you've given gifts to your children and your grandchildren as well?

NM: Yes, I also have made bridal quilts for three--we didn't think Jonathan, our oldest was ever going to get married, so I made him a king-sized Lone Star. In the midst of making his Lone Star our youngest son decided he and his fiancée were going to get married. And so I had to hurry up and stop the king-size and make another one. [laughs.] So I finished that in about, just in time for the wedding, six-months, and then went back to the king-sized and finished that in time for Christmas, the following Christmas. [laughs.] But each one has had a quilt. Jill and Bryan at the time were still at the University of Virginia. Bryan was doing post-doc work, and Jill was working on her doctorate at that point yet. I made them a wall hanging which I made out of material that she, when she was up at Boston; she stayed two summers up there working during the summer. She would go into Fanieuil Hall and a few of the other places and picked up various pieces of material that she thought I would like. Sometimes a yard, sometimes fat quarters, depending upon how lucrative her money was at the time. So most of that quilt I made up of, what did we call it? Some call it "Wheel of Fortune." I'm really not certain. There have been a few names on that one that I haven't really come up with the right one. So I made this "Wheel of Fortune" type. Unfortunately when they went to live out in Palo Alto, California, they had a window in the ceiling, a stained glass, but still. Although she had it off on the side, one side of it was sun-faded. And it of course had to be the dark color that faded, the dark blue. So it's now sort of a purple color on one side, but a dark blue on the other side. It's funny how the light just hit it and it did not shine on it. It just was near enough to it that it went. Amy, I designed, because Kevin, when he would come to visit, he would always bring her a rose, single rose. So roses were very important in her life, so I designed a quilt that had roses that went around the border. She liked mauves and soft greens and light blues, so that was all in that one. That was queen-size. When Scott and Linda were married, I designed a quilt for them also. Linda liked more of the maroons and so forth, so I made that with hearts and whatever. When Jon got married I made him place mats and things of that sort that I knew that they would be using, because he already had the king-size quilt, which were Jinny Beyer fabrics that I had found that looked manly. So he has aquas and beiges and browns and soft yellow in it. So those were the special ones for the family. And Amy was into, 'Gee, Mom, would you mind making me a small quilt?' So she has miniature quilts. She has small wall hangings. She has things that would--if you go up her stairs in her house--they renovated a 1904 Victorian type farmhouse, gutted it, and found where the stairs really belonged and where the windows really belonged and where there should have been a door, but wasn't. So all of those things had been changed and so the small quilts now go up her stairway to the upstairs and if you look up the stairs she has all these smaller quilts all the way up the stairs and at the top she has the larger one up there. And then when you walk around the house she has the others. So the children [JG: Beautiful.] will eventually benefit, but she's got quilts I think in every room in the house. [JG: But she appreciates them.] Yes. [JG: She appreciates them.] Now all I have to do is get her to quilt. [both laugh.]

JG: How has quilting helped you through difficult times?

NM: It was--how can I describe it--it's been a solace. It's been calming. It gives me quiet time, even if there are people running around. I hate to stop quilting some nights; it was till one and two. Difficult to get up the next morning, when they called at six for sub teaching. And there were some times where I had to say 'no' because I'd probably fall asleep in class. But it's something you can't seem to stop doing. It's contagious, infectious. You're always looking for something else to do, even though you haven't finished one or two other projects that are UFO's in the closet or in a drawer someplace. I find I cannot seem to not do something in quilting. And I know there are many others who have the same feelings. And I'm not as prolific perhaps as someone else, because I do try to give my husband a lot of my time. But with one cancer I was busy, still working and quilting. But with this past cancer it was very difficult, because I lost the feeling in my fingers and I couldn't sew. There was no feeling. I wouldn't have known if I had pricked my fingers or not. And I could not pick up a needle or a pin. My fingers just didn't cooperate, didn't work right. So that to me was a very disastrous time. And what I did was I read a lot of quilt books and made up my mind about umpteen other quilts I want to make [JG: Yeah.] Probably never will get them all done, but--

JG: Planned them. Yes. I see.

NM: But to me it's very soothing.

JG: Yeah, yeah. Well how many guilds and how many quilt events not quilt events, but how many [JG coughs.] guilds do you belong to?

NM: I did belong to the Enfield Quilters. We had nothing at the time in Connecticut. In Harwinton, it was the Harwinton Women's Club that made quilts each year. We started about 28 years ago. It's our main fundraiser. We got tired of making all little fundraiser type things. [JG coughs.] And you can only hit so many people so many times for fundraisers. As a result they decided to make a quilt and raffle it. It was hard struggling those first few years, but now we don't have any trouble selling it. People come looking for us at the Harwinton Fair and the Goshen Fair. When I moved from Harwinton to Goshen, it was again no one up there that was quilting. [JG: Goshen, in--.] Connecticut. [JG: Connecticut.] Connecticut. It's in the Northwestern corner. Litchfield was my backdoor neighbor. If you went through the woods you went to Litchfield. Everybody was quilting around us, but nobody had set up--you didn't know who was quilting. And this was back in the seventies, when it really hadn't taken off yet. I mean we were there doing it but we weren't, it wasn't as contagious as it is now. I mean everybody now wants to quilt. It was a question of you quilted and yeah you knew that there was another quilter or two around. Once in a while you'd find someone that you would, 'I'll bring my quilt and come on over.' Or 'Come over to my house and we'll quilt and have lunch together.' And I would do that with a friend in Goshen and with a friend in Harwinton. And I'm still friendly with the one in Harwinton. The other one has moved since. I don't know what state she moved to. She moved twice and I lost track of her after that. It was small friendships, one to two kind of person, friendship. When I went to live in Suffield, Connecticut, which is the center northern part of the state, another historical area, like Litchfield. I learned that there was a quilting group in Enfield and I would travel across the Connecticut River and go over and meet with them. They met in the library. There were about 30 to 40 women, and very nice. We were a part of the Greater Hartford Quilt Guild. We had no shows within Enfield itself, but with the Greater Hartford Quilt Guild meeting, which we hosted one year, we had--and I couldn't tell you because I was in the kitchen most of the day [clock is chiming.] preparing for lunch, so I missed a lot of the lectures that were there and so forth. But I did win a prize and I won a hoop which I'm still using, as one of the door prizes. We did have some very memorable speakers, but that was about it. And so when we moved to Naples back in '91 I looked for two things: a Women's Club and a quilt guild. And there were about 30 members at the time. And the first time I went to go to the meeting they had canceled the meeting that night. Only I didn't know it and I couldn't find them, and it was in a bank building and I found the bank, but it was totally dark. So I thought, 'Well okay, I went to the wrong bank or something.' But went back and finally found them and they were down meeting at the church, the Presbyterian Church. So the quilt guild meetings that we had were very interesting. It gave me an opportunity to meet a lot of people, which I have enjoyed knowing and still consider my friends. We had a small over the back of the pews show, where people voted. And a few of us became very upset, I think after two or three years that people and the children were walking through the pews with dirty hands and handling our quilts. And we had no control over anything and they weren't being judged. And yes I did win a people's choice and I was thrilled on that one. But it was just--we felt we needed to branch out on our own and do or die we were going to have our own show. And it worked. The first year it was unbelievable. We've been doing it ever since and our guild is three hundred and some members now. I enjoy it. Unfortunately you don't know all the members any longer. But that's the reason for the guild. I will say if it in a sense hadn't been for the Adult Ed class I don't know as if I ever would have gotten a quilt finished. So I have to give them credit for the incentive of doing that. When I lived in Goshen, Connecticut late 70's, I read in the newspaper about a quilt show in Danbury, Connecticut. Drove down by myself and sat in on one of the lectures. The speaker was Aloyse Yorko. I finally met her in Naples, Florida. We are both members in the Naples Quilt Guild.

JG: Yeah, yeah. Wonderful. Wow. Let's switch gears a little bit. What do you think makes a quilt artistically powerful? What do you think?

NM: It has to be what the person has in her thoughts. If she has designed her own, that to me would be extremely powerful. If her provenance told me what it was, why she did it, what was in her mind, in a sense. And then of course the best way is to ferret out the person who did it and find out why she did the quilt the way she did. That to me is number one: her reasoning. Number two: her colors. Sometimes a very vibrant one does not show the true meaning to that quilt, but it might be for whatever reason that person chose the colors she did, as to why it would come across for that person. And of course her handwork. Was it hand quilted or machine quilted, to the extent that it's showing off the quilt itself? Because the quilt is nothing until the quilting is done to it. [JG softly: Right.] Those are my reasonings.

JG: Would you attribute these same reasonings to a quilt, why it should be in a collection or in a museum?

NM: Well it depends upon the person who is collecting. They might go for colors first. Another person might go for the technique that the person used. And another collector might go for the reasoning of the quilt. So it would depend upon the collector. Visual, I would say it would probably play the greatest part at that point. What did the collector see in that quilt? It depends upon the collector. Not necessarily upon the person who made the quilt, but upon what the collector is looking for. You and I both would probably like quilts for different reasons. [JG agrees.] And yet we might stand there and chew apart the person's quilt and agree on many of the reasonings of why we like the quilt or why we don't care for this and why we don't care for that. Suzanne [Sanger.] and I did that [laughs.] at the last quilt show. She likes her things and I didn't. [laughs. JG agrees.] But I think that's a growing point for both of us. And if we were the collector, I don't know as if I would have collected that quilt. There was something in it that bothered me. So that to me would not have been in my collection.

JG: Yeah. Right. How do you think that quilts have impacted American life? Historically or present--

NM: Well, I think the explosion in '76 where President Reagan had asked us to go back in history in a sense, to think about what our people did when they came to this country and how they formed our country and moving west. What they did. It was a matter of necessity for quilts then. It was a matter of existence, not necessarily for beauty but what they could make out of whatever they had, not necessarily to go out and buy new materials, like many of us do. But it was a question of I think historically that we had to show what we had done in the past. Because of that I think our women, it just exploded. And from that point on quilting--it was very difficult to find a good quilt shop. You went to a material shop and then hoped you could find calicos and things of that sort. And now you can go in and find specialty type materials which you could not find before. I mean they were – you had solids and you had calicos and you had prints and you had plaids. And until a few brave souls started putting plaids into the quilts you didn't see those. So it was a matter of finding the artistic being in the person and then coming out with all the differences that have created into today. I really, I have to credit President Reagan for that, because I think up until that point it was a question of it's much quicker to go buy a quilt that was made some place else, rather than sitting down and doing it yourself. And I think he jolted a lot of women. [JG: Yes. Lovely.] The result of many guilds which weren't there before. [JG: Right.] I mean I didn't have them, when I started. [JG: They're recent.] The only place I could show my quilts was at a Woman's Club, which went locally, to district, and only the first went from local to district. And the first went from district to state convention. And that was where I used to show my quilts. We had no other means at that point. There were no guilds, nothing in my area. [JG: How interesting. How interesting.] There is now. I did enter my quilts in the Harwinton, Goshen and Terryville Connecticut Fairs, competitions and happily won ribbons midst good competition

JG: Mmmm, I'll bet. Yes, I'll bet. We have about 5 minutes left. Is there any particular quilt subject that you'd like to elaborate on? Something that you'd like to tell the listener and the reader about quilts or quilting or your personal opinions.

NM: I think everyone should try it.

JG: Try it you'll like it. [laughs.]

NM: Try it you'll like it. I've had so many people say to me, when I was teaching some classes, 'Oh, but my stitches are terrible.' My answer was 'I don't care how large your stitches, as long as you make them even. And if you can make them even, you can eventually with practice make them smaller.' Some of those women now are doing the most fabulous quilting. And I'm so proud of them. There's a camaraderie that you make with quilters. There is greater sharing that you do with quilters. There is, I can't say greater friendships, but I think it's a friendlier group. My quilting Bee has roughly 20 members in it. Yeah, I mean I knew the thirty in our quilt guild, originally. And you knew them personally. But when you get up to the 300 membership, they're faces and maybe names or maybe you know the name but not the face. I can't say that about the Bee. In the Bee you know when a person is not feeling well. You know when a person is in need of humor. Yeah, he wants to know if he can come in. [Naoma is referring to her husband Marvin.]

JG: Yeah sure. [door alarm chirps.]

NM: It's been the most satisfying group of quilters that I belong to. How can I describe it? When I lost my hair and came in with a hat. This group was concerned. 'How are you doing?' And I said, 'well I'm almost bald'. And the result was that eventually when I did go bald it was a question of 'Naoma, it's warm in here,' because the sun was beaming in where we meet, 'why don't you take the hat off?' And I said 'Well, you know if it's chilly I need the hat', because I never realized how much your hair protects you. But they were the group that convinced me that I did not need to wear that hat. When my hair started coming in this was the group that was ecstatic each week to see the bristles, the quarter inch growth, how much it's grown from week to week. And they were there for me. I can't say that about other groups I belong to [Naoma is visibly moved. tears are in her eyes.] Good group.

JG: Yes, indeed. My heart is [NM: Yeah.] with the quilters.

NM: Yeah. They're great.

JG: Wow. Naoma, we've covered a lot and I know we could go on for a long [NM: Long, long.] long time [laughs.] but the tape is running out. The tape is running out, so I want to thank you very much for your time and for allowing me to interview you today.

NM: It was fun.

JG: And the interview is over. Its 11:57. [a.m.] Thank you again.

NM: You're welcome.


“Naoma Morgenstein,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 21, 2024,