Monday, October 26, 2009

The Autograph Quilt: Alodia Schleifer & a Miraculous Healing

We’ve already met Alodia Howard Schleifer, one of the women who signed the quilt, in connection with her husband Fred’s purchase of a Hudson Terraplane from a car dealership on South LaSalle Street, next door to the Odd Fellows Hall. (See the posting for July 16, 2009.) Since July I have found this photo of the happy couple standing in front of the car in question.
FYI: The crease on the front left fender is a flaw in the photo, not the car.

But the car did not figure in my childhood memories of Alodia Schleifer. Actually, I don’t remember knowing her because she moved to Utah when I was only three or four years old. My memory consists of the oft-repeated story of how she was healed from terrible burns when my grandfather Greer administered to her in the late 1930s.

You see, Grandpa James T. Greer was blessed with the gift of healing. In her book The Story of Jim and Myrtle Greer: Family and Church, Grandma Myrtle Greer says this about it: “Jim had to get up many times in the middle of the night and go and administer to somebody, but he never hesitated, and he never complained. He’d come back and sleep what time he could, and then he’d get up at the regular time. He never missed work on account of it. Sometimes they’d ask him to go all the way to Rochelle, Elgin, or even as far as Iowa. There wasn’t much priesthood then, and a lot of times he had to go alone because he couldn’t get nobody to go with him. He administered to a lot of people. He didn’t have much education and wasn’t up like some of them are now, but he sure used what he did have.” (p. 120)

Recounting that terrible night when Alodia Schleifer needed a blessing, Jim said: “Fred Schleifer worked at Lyon Metal in the same department with me, and I introduced him to his [second] wife. She was making jelly, and she had a big stew pan full of jelly. It was just about ready to jell and she poured a little bit out into a glass of cold water to see if it was hard enough to ball up. She spilled some on the floor and she didn’t take the time to wipe it off the floor. When she stepped in this jelly, she hit the stew pan and it turned on her in the face and on her left shoulder. [It burned her so badly that her] head didn’t look like a woman’s head at all. It was almost half as big as a nail keg. Big water blisters with great big bags of water were all over her. She didn’t look human.

“I had a big, old Roadmaster Buick. Myrtle and me started for Kaneville, and a big storm and wind set that big old Buick back and forth. Myrtle said, ‘Let’s don’t go. Let’s turn back.’ I says, ‘No, something’s telling me to go.’ When we got there, I went to the door and old Fred come to the door and he says, ‘How did you ever get here?’ I said, ‘I don’t know but something kept telling me to.’

“I administered to her, and I don’t know how, but I found myself asking for her face not to be scarred. She told me later that she thought of what I said in the prayer. She always wondered why I didn’t mention about her arm and shoulder. I says, ‘Sister Schleifer, ain’t you satisfied?’ I says, ‘There’s not a scar on your face, and your clothes cover the scar on your shoulder.’ She says, ‘Yes, I’m satisfied.’

“I couldn’t doubt in my mind but what there is power in administering to the sick. I’ve never seen anything like it.” (pp. 121-122)

Alodia’s children were still living at Mooseheart and learned about the accident the next time they saw their mother. Georgia agrees with the Greers’ version of the incident.

The Quilt Connection

Alodia and her daughter Georgia H. Lang both signed the quilt, although they must have sent their signatures back from Utah to be included. I have spoken with Georgia and she does not remember ever seeing the quilt. Since her signature shows her married name, it dates the quilt after June 1948.

More about the Howard/ Schleifer/ Lang Family

Georgia was named for her father, George Howard. He worked in the coalmines in Carbon County, Utah, and was a superintendent when he passed away on March 16, 1936. He did not die in a mine explosion as we had erroneously thought, but caught a “cold,” that turned out to be spinal meningitis.

Within a year Alodia moved with her children to Moose-heart, a children’s home for orphans of members of the Moose lodge, located north of Aurora, and it wasn’t long until Jim Greer introduced his co-worker Fred to a 49-year-old widow. The family stayed in Illinois until Georgia graduated from high school in 1947 and then Alodia, her son Wallie, and Georgia moved back to Utah. (Her older son, Lynn Howard, married a girl from Kaneville and stayed in Illinois.)

Fred Schleifer went west with them but Utah didn’t exactly suit him. Before long he moved back home where he married “the lady who ran the grocery store.” Meanwhile, Georgia met Ray Lang at the LDS Business College in Salt Lake City and they were married on her nineteenth birthday, June 8, 1948. Alodia passed away on September 13, 1956.

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