The Best Days of My Life

-- by Jean Suter

I was born and raised in Staunton, VA. When I was eleven years old, around 1945, I started drawing horses. My father gave each of us three girls a quarter a week. The first place I headed for was the department of papers and pencils at the dime store. I mainly drew horses.

After I married, I moved to Harrisonburg. My husband hired a man to do some carpentry work, and he said that he carved in wood. He brought some birds for me to see. I asked what he used to carve them, and he said he used a pocket knife. So I carved a little hound dog from a piece of shelving board. I still have it today. Then I got to carving all sorts of animals, and I carved three and one-half nativities. I still have one in my possession. Much later I saw a little wooden doll in a gift shop. I thought I could make one, and I did. That was the beginning of my doll-making. She was 6 inches tall. My dolls range from 2 1/2 to 14 ½ inches tall. I made a Queen Anne doll with a tuck comb. She has movable swivel joints at the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees, is thirty inches tall, and can be placed in a sitting position. I have also carved some wooden trays and plaques. Recently I have made some “limber jacks” which are loose-limbed wooden dolls that dance on a flat, thin wooden board when tapped with a finger. Using the limb of a tree, I have carved Wood Spirit faces. When I was younger, I used to make a lot of my clothes—slacks, blouses, skirts, jackets. Sometimes I crocheted small doilies and made necklaces. My sister and I loved to sing together when I was around 11. Years later I bought a guitar, and accompanied myself playing three chords while I sang. I still sing and play the guitar today. Country songs are my favorite., and I sing solos at the Highlands Sing-A-Long every other Friday night. Recently I have been learning to draw faces and caricatures. My hobbies give me much pleasure and comfort!