“The Quilter”

The Quilter

I first wrote about my great grandmother’s four-decades in the Toledo State Hospital about ten years ago while taking a workshop with Carol Bly at the Indiana University Writers Conference. Originally I called the piece “Insanity,” but as I explored my Great Grandmother’s experience and what it meant to me, I discovered a more appropriate title, “The Quilter.”

Last summer I took Amy Jenkins’ nonfiction essay writing workshop at the University of Wisconsin’s Write By the Lake.  Haunted by my great grandmother’s story, I took it out once again and with Amy’s encouragement, crafted the piece published today in the online journal, Biostories.

If you’d like to read the full essay, you can find it at: http://www.Biostories.com/recent-essays/.

About JP in B-town

JP grew up on a sheep farm in northwest Ohio. She learned to knit by the age of ten, and loves the smell of wool. She fell in love with reading, a habit she fed with weekly visits to a nearby Carnegie Public Library. Reading fed her desire to become a writer, and her dream of traveling the world. She resides in Bloomington, Indiana, where she continues to knit and write.
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2 Responses to “The Quilter”

  1. Mary Gay Hutcherson says:

    I appreciated reading your well-written story about your great grandmother, Joanne. Especially it makes a difference in seeing a woman’s experience as told by a woman who sees the things women experienced with respect for the special challenges of being female.

    I also had a relative in the state hospital in Arkansas in the forties and she was home with my great grandparents when I was a little girl. I suspect she had schizophrenia with post partum depression. She died in the state hospital where her husband who had left the family farm when it was unsustainable worked as an orderly. I wish I could tell her story. I only know bits and pieces of it.

    I worked in what was once called the Northeast Texas Lunatic Asylum, which was stamped on my desk, as in Property of ……… and there were many many sad stories of women. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. JP in B-town says:

    Thanks for your comment, and thanks for sharing your memories. I also only knew bits and pieces of my great grandmother’s story, but I couldn’t let it go. Perhaps you’ll find a way to tell your relative’s story, too.

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