By Cathy Skrypek
Sally Garner is a native Georgian who grew up in Decatur. She lived with her grandparents, parents, two aunts, an uncle, two sisters and a brother. They spent many evenings on the front porch, sharing stories of family and events. Sally is currently writing some of these stories to pass on to her family.
In 1939, the RAF sent men to Fort McPherson for training. Several men were billeted with them and they would “kill one more chicken a week”. Atlanta was a small town then with very little housing. Decatur was semi-rural with two and three acre lots. The family had two acres, one in garden and the other with chickens and a goat. However, Decatur was close to the streetcar line which would take them to downtown Atlanta to pick up their connection to the Fort.
Sally spent a lot of time in her mother’s sewing room. Mother was an excellent seamstress and quilter. During winter, one of their neighbors kept a quilting frame that hung from the ceiling. From Thanksgiving until it grew warm, someone’s quilt was on that frame. Of course, Sally was under and around the frame. Mother would feed breakfast and dinner to the RAF and after lunch six neighbor women would quilt on whatever quilt was on that frame.
At age four, Sally developed a kidney problem which kept her bed ridden for about a year. The bed was in the sewing room. Here she learned to knit and crochet. When Sally became “fractious”, she was given squares of fabric and made pictures with thread, learning how to hold a needle. Sally still loves handwork. Mother went to work outside the home when Sally was nine.
Sally attended an all girls high school and took home economics classes where she won a silver thimble for her design of and workmanship in making a dress. She met her husband Almon in high school. After attending college for a year and one-half, Sally went to Miami to take care of her sister..
She returned to Decatur, Almon returned from the Korean War, they married and started raising their family. Their first son was born in the Atlanta area. Almon worked for the Federal Aviation Admin and they were off to Oklahoma City and Alaska, where their second son was born. Son number three was born in DeKalb County when they returned to Atlanta. Sally sewed all the boys clothes. They wanted to move away from the city and heavy traffic, so they moved to Cumming. Sally also became the loving caregiver for her parents, her Dad’s cousin and Almon’s parents.
With more time on her hands, Sally learned to make bobbin lace, tatt and silk embroider. She has quilted about eighteen years and does absolutely lovely work. Her sewing skills include making a couple wedding dresses. One was for a niece who brought in different patterns for “this sleeve, this top, this skirt”. Sally accepted the challenge and, of course, it was a work of art with many embellishments. She has also made a lot of prom dresses and evening dresses.
Sally is encouraged by the fact that the Piecemakers Quilt Guild of Cumming has grown and now includes many younger quilters. This is also true with lace making. She is pleased that quilting and lace making are being acknowledged and appreciated more than ever in her life. Quilts used to be for keeping warm and sleeping under. Now we decorate with them too.