Ladies Braid

F. B. “Floppy” Tolman

After forty years of use, I’ve finally had to discard a braided rug Ma Tolman made at the Ladies Aid. Her workmanship, with its great careless leaping stitches, wasn’t up to the standard of, say, Mrs. Cora Tolman. Besides, Ma had a tendency to use what-came-to-hand, and the section which came from an old pair of Pop’s brown serge trousers was a mistake. The genuine wool strip next to it refused to integrate with the serge, pinching it badly so that it rose up in a welt of rejected self-esteem. At home Ma tried to subdue it by placing a rug on top. But when released, the serge boiled up again. Next she put a table on top, bottom side up. Legs in the air. Guests made uneasy conversation through the uprights. Maybe that would have worked if the table had stayed there for the next forty years, but unfortunately the table was removed and after that the rug was exposed to many feet and great chunks have come loose (Perhaps a couple of flat irons would have done the trick.)

Some members of the Nelson Ladies Aid c. 1960s. Seated: Alice Sharples, Cora Tolman, Francis Tolman and Tammy Quigley. Standing: Mildred Baird, Myra Hardy, Ishbel Morrison, Sadie Tolman, ?, Mildred Quigley and Cora Alice Tolman.

The Ladies Aid had high ethical standards for their meetings, guarded by two powerful members, one an ex-missionary, the other an ex-evangelist. They tried to subdue too great an atmosphere of frivolity with some success. At least they held the Ladies to the goal of worthy causes, which was to make goods to be sold for the needy. And the members were conscientious about this whether they came to the meetings simply for the sheer pleasure of woman-to-woman comfort, for fun, or for gossip. They vied in excellent workmanship, and to this day if anyone is lucky enough to have a quilt made by Mrs. Page, or a rug made by Mrs. Cora Tolman, or a delicate piece of crocheted work by Mildred Baird, they won’t be parted from it.

But as to this less-than-perfect rug of Ma’s, I doubt if I’m up to coping with it. If it couldn’t be done by Ma, it can’t be done by me. It’s a real Yankee rug. There’s no way it’s going to be walked over without tripping someone up.