Letters Home: A House At Last

Letters Home: A House At Last

Letters Home: A House At Last

As I worked on this quilt in my Letters Home series, I thought of our parents looking for a house to be able to call home in a land far away from all they knew. This quilt depicts their desire to find a house they could make into a home for their family, while at the same time navigating how to find food they recognized, and exploring the new flavors of traditional Iranian foods. Mother always knew how to make a house a home, so I wanted that to be the center of this piece.

Her reference to the chickens come up in many of her letters. As I embarked on working on this piece, I looked around my studio and noticed I had a chicken that had been embroidered by our youngest sister, Janet. You’ll read about her when she is born in 1965. 

Janet's signature on her embroidered chicken
A House At Last, Close-up of Janet’s signature on her embroidery, Letters Home Series, hand painted fabrics, commercial fabrics, beading, hand embroidery, machine applique and fused. Lynn Woll (c) 2020

Janet is Down’s Syndrome and has brought so much joy to our lives. She used to love to embroider, before Parkinson’s and Dementia set in. I thought it was very appropriate to incorporate her art into a piece about our family.

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This piece includes:

  • House with a flat roof that was traditional in those days in Iran
  • Our new house number – 504
  • A dozen eggs to remember the egg man who delivered eggs from a big box on the back of a bike
  • A very special chicken
  • A tree that provided some shade in the yard, and as I got older, a place to climb and see the world go by
  • And, flowers — Mother always had flowers!
Letters Home: A House At Last
A House At Last, Letters Home Series, hand painted fabrics, commercial fabrics, beading, hand embroidery, machine applique and fused. Lynn Woll (c) 2020

Letter #3
March, 1959

Dear Folks,

Well, we have been here two weeks and a day. This is the Friday before Palm Sunday and Herb and the kids have gone to “Friday School”. Eshajh was late getting here this morning so I did not have time to get dressed and go too. Yes, that is the name of our cook.

We moved into the house Wednesday. Wednesday night Charlie and Ruby Draper had us for dinner (Gulf from Port Arthur), and last night Marianne and Ray Casler had us at their house for dinner (friends of George & Joan Speir), so tonight will be the first dinner for our cook to get.

The staff store is pretty good for most anything except the meats are all frozen and look terrible. Have to get my cookbooks and find out how to doctor mutton and chicken.

A House at Last DETAIL of the house and yard
A House At Last, Detail of the house and yard.
Letters Home Series, hand painted fabrics, commercial fabrics, beading, hand embroidery, machine applique and fused.
Lynn Woll (c) 2020

On to the house – our SQ no. is 504 and because of Herb’s job we got a telephone yesterday – the number is double 1 thirteen, as they say here. The living room is a T shape about the size of 954 – one half of the top of the T is the dining room and the other part is a little smaller and is a bay window kind of an alcove where we have the desk that I’m typing from now. It overlooks the front yard where our gardener Hasssin has dug flower beds and will most likely plant in the next few days. We have a few flowers now including sweet peas that are growing up the hedge all around the yard. We have two bedrooms both about the size of our room at home. Each one has two closets in it and the room we have has a wash basin. They are a nice size.

A House At Last DETAIL of tree
A House At Last, Detail of the tree,
Letters Home Series, hand painted fabrics, commercial fabrics, beading, hand embroidery, machine applique and fused.
Lynn Woll (c) 2020

The bath is big but not planned too well. The mirror is on the middle of one wall and the basin in the middle of another – poor Herb when he shaves. And you should see the shower (which is over the tub)! Aside from it dripping constantly only a picture could really tell the story. Both the hot and cold water pipes were tapped and then pipes up the wall to a pretty good height, the two brought together to one pipe which goes across the tub about two feet and then some sort of shower head is put on. But the drip is really good when taking a tub bath. If you don’t sit way back in the tub it drips on your head. In about two months we hope to have that fixed.

Now the kitchen. It really is not too bad. There is a fairly good amount of storage space and a walk in pantry closet. The “frig” is a new one but English made – far from American standards. The inside of it is pink.

Out the back door is the compound – a high walled completely enclosed area with a room and bath? For the help – our cook has 5 children so we want no parts of his living there. There is a big metal gate on this and Eshajh asked for a padlock and key. When he gets here in the morning he puts it on the inside and then when he leaves he locks it from the outside – they don’t even trust each other.

The yard in the back will be entirely vegetables – it seems the gardeners like for you to have tomatoes, lettuce and all from your own yard. Then all around us people have chickens – seems to be the fad and the damn roosters crow all day and night. They are going just as strong now as they did last night at 11 and this morning at 6. We’ll get used to it soon I hope.

A House At Last DETAIL of the hand embroidered chicken Janet stitched
A House At Last, Detail of Janet’s Embroidered Chicken, Letters Home Series, hand painted fabrics, commercial fabrics, beading, hand embroidery, machine applique and fused. Lynn Woll (c) 2020

While I have been typing this breakfast dishes have been done, the beds made, and the house basically tidied up. What a life of ease. By the way, he does speak quite a bit of English which is a big help, not only in the house work line but also when the smuggler comes with the Lucky’s and the egg man and also to get rid of the beggars that come to the door – just call for Eshajh he gets what we want or gets rid of the man and then tells us what it was all about.

A House At Last DETAIL of eggs
A House At Last, Detail of the dozen eggs, Letters Home Series, hand painted fabrics, commercial fabrics, beading, hand embroidery, machine applique and fused. Lynn Woll (c) 2020

Next to the house is one of the four entrances to the “square”. The center of the square is a large play area for the children. Swings and lots of other toys plus a large section for them to run and play. We have Iranians on each side of us, but with the high hedge it makes no difference.

Two doors away a very nice English couple live and they are to come over tonight to play bridge. They have one child and are expecting another in a few months. About our age and seem like a lot of fun – hope so. You should hear Bobbie talk – she has an English twang in just a week of school. She is now off for two weeks Easter vacation. She loves school, teacher, and girls. The one problem is the homework which is much more than at home.

Lynn is a little lost without her but will get over it soon – I hope. Maybe in the next letter I’ll learn about paragraphs and use them — I’ve just been typing. Have to go see what we will eat for lunch and for dinner today so it can be done in the next few hours — takes forever for these people to do anything. Also we got some lettuce and have to show this character how to wash it in Halazone and then rinse it real well. Know he is not too happy that we don’t want a four course dinner but will try to get just meat, vegetables, salad and dessert. Hope I succeed. Lots and lots of love from all of us.

Love, Weezie & Herb & Kids


Letters Home is a collection of letters written by our Mother (mostly) and our Father ( sometimes), that chronicles their life overseas, with two, then three, then four young girls.  The letters were written to their mothers and are full of daily life, unique challenges, and humor. As we live in uncertain and challenging times, it seems fitting to share.


Browse through more Letters Home and the art quilts inspired by our parents adventures.


 


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