LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK)- At 95-years-old, Billie Bell, of Longview is using her creative talent of quilting to help share stories of the past with her fellow East Texans.
She’s been hand sewing storybook quilts since the age of 70.
“I’ve always been creative! I needed something to do. I decided that I would make a quilt, and I had never made one,” said Bell.
Now, she has made about 65 quilts without the use of a sewing machine.
Bell lives at the Parkview Independent Senior Living Center, and they have allowed her to display her quilts in the lobby. The most recent one is in honor of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“I have always wanted to do a Black History Month quilt, and I don’t have a computer. So, I spent many hours in the library researching all of this. It’s all in chronological order where you start out with the slaves being auctioned off, then, of course, a Tuskegee airman and Jackie Robinson,” said Bell.
Martin Luther King Jr. and former President Obama sit in the center of the quilt to give recognition to the Black lives that have served this country. Every two weeks, Bell’s quilts are replaced with a new one.
“They are all storybook quilts. I have given all of them away because you never sell a quilt. When Parkview said they would allow me to hang the quilts, I had to start calling some of the quilts in. Some of them were mailed in from Ohio and Virginia,” said Bell.
Fellow residents said they enjoy the vibrancy and extreme detail of her creations. Bell hopes that through her research and sewing others can learn about America’s history.
“Of course nowadays, everybody knows how wrong it was, and it is still wrong. I grew up in the days when everything was segregated,” said Bell.
It took her a year to stitch the MLK quilt.
“He was a great narrator, a great storyteller, and he really stood up for the people and what they believed. We probably will never have another leader like he was,” said Bell.
Bell has stopped making her quilts due to a hand injury, but she hopes they can be something to be remembered for years to come.