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Woman, 96, still quilting

Holding one of her quilts, Martha Waddell, 96, has quilted since she was 10 years old. Besides quilting, she tends to her flowers and is able to walk without assistance. She doesn’t go to church these days because of all the getting up and down, she said.

Holding one of her quilts, Martha Waddell, 96, has quilted since she was 10 years old. Besides quilting, she tends to her flowers and is able to walk without assistance. She doesn’t go to church these days because of all the getting up and down, she said.

SASSER, Ga. -- Martha Waddell has never been a person to watch much television, she said, or listen to the radio.

Having been born some 40 years before TV was common, she just may not have gotten use to it. She did listen to a radio when she was in high school.

"Sometimes a crowd of us would walk -- that's walk, now -- over to a neighbor's house and listen to the radio. That was in the early 30's," Waddell said.

Waddell remembers the Great Depression and hopes young people today "never have go through anything like that."

"There wasn't much money," she said. "You didn't have a bunch of clothes to wear like you do now. If you had two or three changes of clothes back then, you were doing good. There weren't any graduation parties, either before or after. We graduated and then we went home."

Waddell said her school had no lunchroom and everyone brought their lunches to school.

"We didn't spend the money for paper bags, though," she said. We wrapped things in newspaper."

Waddell said that she wanted to become a nurse when she graduated high school, but her mother told her it was "too much work to be a nurse."

"I was a nurse most all my life just the same -- between taking care of my kids and my husband's people," Waddell said. "I just didn't get paid for it."

According to Waddell, her husband was an only child and by the time they married, his parents were getting old. We took care of his daddy for 17 years and his mama for 25," she said.

She doesn't quite remember where she was when Pearl Harbor was attacked, but it was cold and rainy when she heard about it on the radio. Two of her husband Marvin's cousins went to war, she said.

"The draft board really tried hard to get Marvin, but the man who owned the farm Marvin managed wouldn't let them," she said. "He went down there and said the farm was important and he wouldn't be able to get anybody else to manage it."

At 96 years young, Waddell walks unassisted, tends her flowers and sews her quilts on a pedal-powered sewing machine considerably older than her. She keeps the fragile owners manual in a drawer of its wooden cabinet.

"My eyes aren't as good as they used to be," Waddell said, "So I keep the needle threaded. One time I let the thread come out and it took me two hours to get it back. I promised God if he'd help me get it back right I'd keep it threaded from then on. Every time I succeed at something I say 'thank the Lord.' I don't forget it."

Waddell started quilting when she was 10 years old, she said, and hasn't stopped since.

"My mama gave me scraps and strings and I would make quilts out of it," she said. "Momma made quilts all the time and she always wanted something for me to do. I never saw anybody who was so good at finding something for somebody to do."

These days, though, she stitches together the "tops" and turns the projects over to either of two other ladies to stretch them out and add the bottom fabric.

Waddell is a Baptist and her faith means a lot to her, she said, although she rarely goes to church these days. She's afraid of "falling and embarrassing people," and the constant getting up and down tires her a little. She reads her Bible at home, along with her puzzle magazines.

"When I was a little girl there was a man giving away rulers," Waddell said. "He said 'would you like a ruler?' and of course I did. He asked me if I would do what it said on the back. I would have agreed to anything to get the ruler so I told him I would. The ruler was painted gold and on the back it said 'Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you.' I've never forgotten that."