The Lucky Quilt

It was a fine Saturday morning when Mrs. Crabtree arrived at her Chicago home. Assisted by her daughter, nine year old Rose, mother and daughter began unloading the weekly shopping, along with an assortment of yard sale plunder. Mrs. Crabtree was proud of her "weathered eye for yard sailing," as Mr. Crabtree had once remarked, and she was always keen to supplement her family's resources with a good find. To Mrs. Crabtree's no nonsense mind, yard sales were a duty of household industry.

"Where should I put this?" asked Rose, displaying a small green blanket of shamrock and tea cup fabrics.

"That's a lovely quilt, Rose," answered her mother, "Where did you get it?"

"But you bought it, Mother," said Rose, perplexed that her mother didn't remember. "At Mrs. O'Leary's yard sale."

Rose held the new treasure higher for her mother to examine. Tiny roses adorned the most graceful of teacups between patches of shamrocks, their squares chained together to create a great patchwork lattice. But to Mrs. Crabtree’s expert eye for bargain hunting, it was hard to tell the age of the quilt. Hand quilted certainly, but in an inconsistent fashion. Some blocks were woven with intricate knots, some were simpler “in-the-ditch” outlines, and a few blocks were merely crossed with crooked Xs. Although the workmanship was certainly old, the quilt seemed a perfect new condition.

"Please leave it by the basement door," said Mrs. Crabtree, perplexed. "We'll take it down to the laundry."

Reluctantly, Rose entered the house and did as she was bid, although she could hardly bring herself to put the old quilt down. It was so...cheerful. "Then may I please have it for my room, Mother? It is just the right size for my bed." Rose asked, returning to open the kitchen door for her mother.

"Of course, if you like," stammered Mrs. Crabtree, surprised yet again this morning, this time at her daughter's sudden formality. Mother, May I? Since when! Mrs. Crabtree decided that the new fourth grade teacher must have started a unit on etiquette, and made a mental note to share the obvious results with her on Monday when delivering cupcakes for the PTA bake sale. But for now she needed to get these groceries put by.

Recognizing the sounds of her mother's arrival in the kitchen, the Crabtree Baby toddled off from her blocks to provide a baby's welcome, quietly leaving older brother Darren alone with his homework (which sounded remarkably like video games). "Lucky," said the Baby when she spied the shamrock quilt. Lucky indeed, as it was just the right size for Baby to pull over her shoulder. She brought the quilt to meet her mother at the refrigerator, giving her a hug around the knees. Mrs. Crabtree patted her cheek and handed her a fresh bottle of juice.

Realizing he was alone in the family room, Darren tripped over a jumble of blocks with his oversized fifteen-year-old feet on his way to join the family in the kitchen. "Mom, can I go the park today?" he asked while taking two bags of groceries from Mrs. Crabtree.

"The Park?" asked Mrs. Crabtree, "Before lunch? You're asking about basketball before food?" she felt his forehead for fever.

But it was Rose who replied, "Darren wants to see Colleen," she said, drawing out each syllable into a sing-song. "Col-lee-een lives by the park," Rose teased as her brother chased her around the kitchen island.

"Lucky," said the Baby, holding up her new treasure, to no one in particular.

Mr. Crabtree entered the kitchen from his adjoining study, with two pairs of glasses atop his head and file folders in each hand. "Lunch ready, Dear?" he asked Mrs. Crabtree. "I'll need to go back to the office this afternoon. The Abramson report, I forgot to bring the numbers home..."

"Dad, can I have a ride to the park when you go?" interrupted Darren, abandoning his chase of Rose, who giggled her escape all the way to her room.

It wasn’t like Mr. Crabtree to be so forgetful. He really doesn't look well, considered his wife, feeling her husband's forehead for fever. "Why don't you take a break, Dear," she replied, "Have some aspirin and a lie down. I'll bring you lunch in bed as soon as it's ready, alright?"

Just then Zac, the eldest Crabtree sibling, arrived with three members of his JV basketball team.

"Mrs. C.!”
"Howdy, Ma'am,"
"How are you, Mrs. C.? Mr. C.?"

The older boys greeted Zac's family with a renewed whirlwind of activity, somehow managing to put away all the groceries while simultaneously retrieving sodas and snacks from the pantry.

Mrs. Crabtree smiled good naturedly at the gang assembled in her kitchen. "You- upstairs to bed," she directed her husband. "And you all- outside while I make some lunch." she sent the young men off amidst cheers o f "Thanks Mrs. C., you're the best," on their way to the basketball hoop on the carport.

"Have you seen my lucky dauber?" Mrs. Crabtree's mother-in-law, also a Mrs. Crabtree, called from the front door entry way while digging in her oversized bag of bingo tickets, decks of cards, and sundry lucky charms.

"Won't you stay for lunch today?" called the younger Mrs. Crabtree from the kitchen, now in full apron and wooden spoon regalia.

"No thank you, Dear," answered Grandmother Crabtree absently while turning over cushions on the living room furniture, "I'll have lunch with the girls on our way to Bingo. I only stopped by to see if I dropped my lucky dauber here. Must be somewhere..."

The Baby stopped in her block construction of flying buttresses. "Lucky," she said, bringing the new green quilt to her grandmother.

"Shamrocks, oh, how lovely. You are right, Sweetie," said Grandma, "this looks very lucky." Remarkably clever Baby, thought her grandmother proudly. "May Grandma take your lovely quilt to Bingo? Maybe it will make up for losing my lucky dauber."

The Baby beamed her approval, then took her bottle and toddled away to find her mother again. Mrs. Crabtree the Elder put the green quilt in her bag and headed out to bingo.

"Wait, Grandma, will you give me a ride to the park?" Called Darren, leaving the carport basketball game with the older boys and following his grandmother to her car.

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"It's her fourth win tonight!" said Edna. "How does she do it?" asked Maggie. The ladies at bingo commiserated across a church hall table as Mrs. Crabtree shouted, "Bingo! Again!" snatching one of her nine cards from atop the green quilt she had spread on the table, and waving it over her head like a flag and jumping up and down like a schoolgirl.

"That is some lucky quilt you have, Marjorie," said her friend Edna, envying the golden stitches shining between shamrock patches.

"Irish Chain," remarked old Mrs. Nussbaum from the next table, without turning around.

"What's that dear?" asked Maggie, purely from politeness, as no one ever knew what Mrs. Nussbaum was talking about.

"Irish Chain. It's the luckiest quilt," said Mrs. Nussbaum, "powerful lucky."

Must have eyes in the back of her head, thought Marjorie Crabtree, to see this old quilt without even turning around. Well, however she does it, Mrs. Nussbaum is right. This "Irish Chain" is truly lucky!
a vintage Irish Chain

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Zac and his teammates huddled on the bench. Sidelined at the big game, they likely wouldn't be called on to play this Saturday night, so they contented themselves with the case of Gatorade which Zac's Grandmother had supplied through her bingo winnings. The old lady had arrived as they were leaving Zac's house, and called for them to wait and, "Take my lucky quilt to the game!" Well, they were certainly lucky the old green quilt was big enough to cover the whole bench. At least it would keep them from getting splinters.

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"And then, you wouldn't believe!" On Sunday morning, Zac was still delivering play-by-play coverage of his big game. "We each were called in to play! Jim made three lay-ups in a row! And then I... "

"I saw you bro, I was there," interrupted Darren through his pancakes, "you ran full court and,” Darren began copying the announcers calls of the night before, “It‘s the Crabtree boy, Rookie, out of nowhere, he steals, it’s a fast break, down the lane, he scores!” the boys finished together with high-fives across the breakfast table.

Mrs. Crabtree at the kitchen sink began to protest the boys’ raucous behavior, but she was forestalled by her mother-in-law's surprising proclamation, "I told you that quilt was lucky!" The elder Mrs. Crabtree fairly shouted in her enthusiasm from the living room recliner where she sat with yarn and the remote control.

"That's nuts, Grandma,” said Darren. “How can a quilt be lucky?"

"All I know," said Zac, "is we were sure glad to have it at the game, Grandma."

Darren looked over at the Baby, carrying the "lucky" quilt by, in search of her blocks, no doubt. The cheerful green squares of the quilt framed Baby's red curls and pink smile, making here appear even more angelic.

"Your nuts too," Darren returned to addressing his older brother. "That tiny baby quilt couldn't possibly cover your whole team's bench."

Preoccupied with cupcake recipes, Mrs. Crabtree brought a dish of nuts to the table. Zac shrugged off Darren's query in favor of the new treats.

"Lucky," said the Baby, sitting down with her blocks to construct a suspension bridge for the family room.

"You got that right," said Grandmother from over her knitting.



***Continued Here***

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