Remembering The Turkey Bend Ladies

My wife handed me a baby blanket the other day that was badly stained. She reminded me that Aunt Mamie Franck (we called her Aunt Mamie, but she wasn’t actually our aunt) hand made this little blanket when our first born son, Matthew was born. Matt will turn 47 this coming August 22, which is my birthday as well. I turned 22 years old the day he came into this world.

The Baby Blanket Hand Sewn By Aunt Mamie Franck in 1974.

Madeline trusts my ability to remove stains, and I can usually do it without completely destroying the stained item.

I was curious of Aunt Mamie’s age when she made this work of art. It appears that she was 84 years old.

When I was a young boy growing up in Smithwick, the Turkey Bend women as they were known, were comprised of 3 sisters (all widowed or at least unmarried) and a widowed sister in law.

Aunt Mamie was probably the most refined of the sisters. She spoke with a certain air of sophistication. She had spent a good many years in California, perhaps that’s where she picked up that trait.

We felt especially honored to have received such a lovely gift for our baby. Now that Matthew has his first grandchild on the way, and our first great grandbaby, we thought it would be fitting that this special child would have this blanket.

I had a special place in my heart for all four of the Turkey Bend Women.

There was Earlie Croft, that was more commonly called Rossie.

Then there was Mabel Wilson.

Probably the one that I knew the best was Libby Hall. She was the sister in law of the other women.

My grandmother, Leona (Nonie) and Libby were very good friends. Therefore I was probably drawn closer to her than the others.

The each had homes there in Turkey Bend, except Earlie. She took turns staying with the others. I was never sure of the circumstances of her not having her own place, that I’m aware of.

She did go to California, where I think she married Mr. Croft. I’m unsure of circumstances of that Union. I don’t believe she ever had children.

I always felt that knowing the Turkey Bend Women was a special thing. That blanket surfacing a few days ago helped me to remember more about all these ladies. There were several other sisters that I knew from that family, but they were all married and moved on from their birthplace. All remarkable people.

There was an event at the Franck residence in the early 1960’s (prior to the death of Aunt Mamie’s husband Albert in March of 63) Everyone in the community it seems like came to celebrate the Golden Anniversary of the Franck’s. When I ask about what that meant, I was about 10 or 11 years old, they just said that was when folks had been married a really long time.

Now Madeline and I are only six months from that magic number ourselves. And I doesn’t seem like we are all that old.

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