Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Hand-Loomed Rug and a Story

Last weekend I visited the farmer's market and bought a rug from a 90-year-old gentleman who looms them by hand from scrap fabric and denim. First, let me tell you why I wanted a rug for this tight space next to our bed, then I'll tell you a little bit about the man who makes these rugs.

Our dog sleeps on her dog bed over on my husband's side of the bed, where there is also a floor rug. Lately, in the wee hours of the morning, Phoebe will come over to my side of the bed (usually to whine and ask to be fed). She'll lay down and get up several times, and each time her nails make this awful sound on the bare pine floor. It not only wakes us up, it also drives us nuts as we picture all the scratches being added to the floor. When you have dogs in the house, you have to make concessions, I know. But our 90-year-old soft pine floors were suffering, and I needed a solution. 

I started by putting a towel down on the floor, but that temporary solution was neither attractive nor practical. When I spied a display of rag rugs at the farmer's market, I thought, "Yes, one of those would do nicely!" I had bought rugs from the gentleman before and loved them -- until Phoebe decided to make chew toys out of them. That was 11 or 12 years ago when she frequently acted out due to a delay in supper or not enough exercise.

I chose the rug below because I thought the color would blend well with the warm wood tones in the room and complement the rug on the other side of the bed. Since our room is small, you cannot see the two rugs at the same time from the doorway, but I wanted the colors to go well together, and I think they do. For only $20, it's a great solution.

And on the other side of the bed is this indoor/outdoor rug, which is very practical for a house with dogs. See how scratched up the floor is? Ugh. One day we'll refinish them like we've done in the living and dining rooms.

Now, a little story about the 90-year-old man who loomed my new rag rug. First of all, he's in great shape, very sharp and doesn't even wear a hearing aid! He lives independently and works on his rugs every morning before going to lunch with a friend or one of his "young'uns." He told me his mother lived to be 107, so obviously he has inherited good genes. She also wove rugs ... I imagine she was his teacher.

A WWII veteran, Mr. Parnell has some stories to tell. When he realized I was interested in hearing them, he pulled out a collection of black and white photos taken in Germany by the military photographer who was stationed with his division. As I looked through them, I saw disturbing images of emaciated men in concentration camps, bombed out streets and bodies piled high. But there were pleasant images too: scenery shots and a photo of a glamorous-looking woman who entertained the troops with Bob Hope.

However, one photo showing five men standing naked and thin as corpses was especially haunting. When I asked about it, Mr. P. told me quite plainly that he was the one who freed those men. He didn't elaborate and wasn't the least bit boastful. I asked what that had felt like and he replied, with a smile on his face, that it had been the greatest feeling in the world. 

Mr. P. is quite the character, and had me laughing with some very funny jokes and stories. He said he's the happiest old man he knows, and I believe it!

I look forward to going back to the market with my husband, who enjoys talking to veterans. I'm sure Mr. P. will pull out his black and white photos and tell us some good stories.


  1. Completely enjoyed reading your story, and, not to mention, seeing the beautiful rug that your friend made ! Good for you for taking the time to listen to the 'old man' - Nothing is more important to them, than your time and interest ! We can learn so much for the elderly, if we just take a few moments to listen to them. They have so many stories to tell - we just have to listen !!

    1. Thank you, Patricia. I'm so happy that you enjoyed this little story. I just peeked at your blog and it's lovely. Beautiful photos. I look forward to spending more time browsing it. Thanks for visiting My Little Bungalow.

  2. What a wonderful story! I think our elders are a treasure. At $20, he's giving those rugs away.

    I know what you mean though about the toenails. One of my cats is like Gregory Hines.

  3. I love to support and buy from independent artisans and tradesmen. Mr. Parnell sounds like quite the character---you get the stories and the goods....nice! We had old heart pine floors at our former home....took such a beating from our dogs. BTW, Phoebe sounds like Panda, who also whines for food.

  4. Wow, what a great rug at an amazing price from such an interesting man. That's a treasure.

  5. Supporting independent artists and artisans is a great thing to do. And to get such amazing pieces is even better.

  6. What a great story. I actually got a lump in my throat and a little misty eyed. And why not? Heroes live among us, and it does us good to reach out and talk to people. Everyone has a story, but not every storyteller is such a craftsman as well! The quality of his loom work is amazing for $20. They would make great Christmas presents for people overseas.


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