In 1930, the town of Paris, Texas had some 15,000 residents and at least two fire stations. Raymond Fuston was the only fireman at Fire Station #2, where he lived with his family from 1929 to 1948. Almost fifty years later, Raymond’s son, Fred, and granddaughter, Karla, shared one of the quilts he made during that time, a bold red and white celebration of his career and his home at Fire Station #2.
Fred Fuston: Raymond joined the Paris Fire Department in 1929, in Paris, Texas.
Karla Poggen: He was a city fireman, not a volunteer fireman. He was the only fireman at the firehouse. Being that he was the only one, he could never leave. He had to be ready for calls. While he was there, he found plenty of things to do with his time. And he was always doing things with his hands. This is just one of the several crafts that he did, quilting. He’d made other quilts prior to this one, but this one was made especially–
Fred: For him. That’s what I was going to say. The fire department was his love and even though he made three quilt tops in his lifetime, this was his favorite. Now, if we want to describe it, the center of this is a white background with a red Maltese cross on it. And the Maltese cross is the international symbol of firefighters. On this, we have “Paris” at the top, and the “FD” fire department at the bottom. The #2 in the middle designates the station that he was at in Paris, at Station 2. And as Karla said this was a combination residence and fire station. And so Daddy, Raymond, was the only fireman there and his family [...] The reason that he was a craftsman and had time to work with things – quilts, wood, horn, leather – this was a 24 hours a day, six days a week. He was relieved of duty on Saturday morning at 7, and at Sunday morning 7, he was back on duty.
JoAnn Pospisil: I have a question about the material. Do you know anything about his choice, why he chose red and white?
Fred: Yes, ma’am. It was probably the only material that Raymond ever bought. Red and white are standard fire colors whether that was bought at Ayre’s or Beall’s or Kresses’ or Woolworth’s, we don’t know. But his other two quilts were from remnants, from where our clothes and other things were made in the home, cut up, we know that. But I happen to know that this is the only material that Raymond ever bought, just because there wasn’t anything large enough, red and white, around the house.
The city sold the fire station in 1948 in Paris, and that was the first time we had to find a home. Daddy had a home, they built a new fire station, but it was manned by paid firemen… The fire station was on the right. The residence in the center and on your left is the porch were we spent a lot of our time. And Raymond did a lot of his sewing in his lap on that porch [...] from 1933 to 1948 and then Daddy didn’t do any more quilts.
You can read more quilt stories on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance site.
Posted by Emma Parker
Project Manager, Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories