Manlius resident sends quilt across country

The traveling heirloom

Manlius resident Pam Nieman's grandma eloped in 1926, the week she graduated from high school.

On her wedding day, native Nebraskan Lillian Hobza Shuster wore a simple pink dress, nothing fancy but beautiful just the same. That dress is now sewn into a memory quilt, currently on a cross-country journey to friends and relatives of Nieman's grandma.

"No one knew there was a specific dress," Nieman said. "Nobody knew it existed because she eloped."

Shuster's oldest daughter Lillian mailed Nieman the dress with hopes she would create something special. It took some time, but Nieman came through.

"I hadn't done anything with it and then I got to thinking that nobody really owns someone else's memories," Nieman said. "Jewelry and money and a house and things get divided up, but these types of things usually end up at a garage sale or they just go by the wayside."

The quilt Nieman made boasts not only the wedding dress, but also coins and fabric from a steadily worn apron. A writing journal travels with the handiwork, so loved ones can record their memories.

Nieman's grandmother was a renowned quilter in her day, Nieman said, who entered and won numerous contests throughout her life and was named a grand champion crocheter on several occasions.

Tall, thin, upbeat and kind, she loved to attend weekend family barn dances to the local music of her good friend "Larry," who later came to be the nationally recognized and much-loved Lawrence Welk.

She was a "fantastic competitor," Nieman said, and the one person Nieman could confide in growing up.

"Your parents aren't always the people you want to talk to in high school or college," she said. "But you knew that if you wrote to her, the secret would be kept. She was a great person."

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