A frequent quiltmaking companion of her sister-in-law Amelia Bennett, Gearldine Westbrook developed a style that resembles the quilts of her neighbors and relatives in Rehoboth and Alberta.
I’m just a old lady here by myself doing the best I can. Eighty-two years old, that’s a big blessing. "The best I can" is about all I can do.
I was born over in Dallas County. I married from out the place you call Rehoboth. And I married and they carried me to Wilcox Corner. Then we moved down on the other side of Mensie Lee’s, down in the woods, going down towards Gee’s Bend. I stayed down there a while.
My husband was Miree Westbrook. His mama was Fannie; I think his daddy was Eddie. Eddie Westbrook used to work up at the gin house up in Alberta. The folks was out there ’cross the field planting cotton, picking cotton and stuff, and he was right at the gin house where they carried it. And we worked in the field.
My great-granddaddy in the Civil War . . . a long time ago . . . you know, killing up peoples, you don’t talk about them things too much to peoples. He used to stay down here to Prairie. He used to transfer from my home to Addie Tripp. She dead. Her daughter dead. All those people is dead! When I knowed him he was too old to work. He lived till he got flat as a dime. He couldn’t work. He had worked on the farm before the war, in the field, farmed cotton, corn, peanuts, potatoes, all such as stuff like that, what they did around here in the field. He didn’t tell us too much. Us was children, and you know how children is—they the devil—and all us would do, hide and try to steal his money and stuff like that. And he had his walking stick, and telling us what he’s going to do to us with it, and all such. He was a real old man. And he was just flat.
I been making quilts for a long time, and I got more mess I done pieced up. When you get old, you get to the place where you get out of one situation and just be sitting around to keep your mind together, you do things. I reckon I started working on it from a child. See, my mother and them learnt us all that stuff. They made quilts. Grandmama, too. All us, that’s what we worked at, quilts and stuff. That’s all we had to do. You just had to find a way to do it yourself, out of old clothes, old overalls like from that old man I been telling you. We made them out of old clothes, old socks, and then after people went to work at piece factories, if you had somebody related they would get you pieces. I don’t follow no pattern. I just went to putting them together, just get me a needle and some thread and sitting down and just went to work. I was just doing the best I could. When you sit down you got to get yourself a mind of your own, figure out a way to put them together.