Christina Doyle Spear has completed her finest quilt. I’m calling it “Christina’s Pride.” As her mother and grandmother were before her, she is an artist with needle and thread. However, what she has stitched together for us this time is not fabric but special pieces of the past. These are her stories that began when she was growing up during the Great Depression. Rummaging in forgotten corners, she has found colorful remnants of her childhood and path to professional success. Christina weaves and sews these scraps together just like the beautiful coverlets in her home. Her first story begins only 51 years after Lee’s surrender. But the pain was mostly gone and Pangburn had recovered economically. Called “the little cotton kingdom,” it was possibly the best cotton market in the state, a small but up-to-date community.
When Edgar and Effie Doyle took their new daughter downtown, there were fine new brick buildings to visit – including a bank and a theatre. The town population exceeded 1,000. A new schoolhouse opened a magical doorway to her future. A bridge spanned the river and electricity was just around the corner. The M&NA railroad brought the world to their doorstep and took folks away any day they wanted to go. Two important experiences awaited Christina: acquiring the wonderful grit and wisdom of hard-working country people – and taking advantage of the newly emerging opportunity for educated women. She accomplished both.Pangburn is different today. The once free-flowing Little Red River skirting the north side of town has lost the brown bass and catfish that nourished the Indians and pioneers. The native fish fled up Big Creek and other feeder streams in the 1960s, when the first cold water rushed from the bottom of Greers Ferry Dam, creating the most famous trout stream in the world. Also gone now are the hotel, theatre, bank, railroad and many other landmarks that Christina had known – plus 30 percent of Pangburn’s population. Some great old traditions remain, like the parade and free barbecue on Independence Day. But if you want to know how it was in the old days, come wrap yourself in “Christina’s Pride.” It’s a beautiful quilt, the heritage of White County. I give it a blue ribbon.