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Bude woman makes afghans for dignitaries

MCCALL CREEK — The hobby of making afghans has not only helpedoccupy the time of a Franklin County woman for the past twodecades, but it has also allowed her some great perks.

Mary Frances Smith isn’t a politician, but she has met plenty ofthem through the fruits of her labor.

“At first I’m kind of nervous when I meet them, but then I seethey’re just everyday people,” said Smith.

She spends her days making afghans for dignitaries in an attemptto keep her mind off the pain she endures with multiple sclerosis,the debilitating disease she was diagnosed with in 1991.

“I can’t do much, but this gives me something to do that I enjoyand it’s good therapy,” she said.

Smith has presented quilts to Mississippi Governor RonnieMusgrove, former governors Ray Mabus and Kirk Fordice, Secretary ofState Eric Clark, former first lady Pat Fordice, LieutenantGovernor Amy Tuck, former congressman Mike Parker, formerLieutenant Governor Brad Dye, Senators Trent Lott and Thad Cochranas well as the late Jim “Buck” Ross, a former state agriculturecommissioner, and George Dale, the state’s insurancecommissioner.

“I usually make the afghans in September and October for thegrand marshal of the Bude parade in December,” said Smith. “It’srewarding because they’re always so surprised and happy.”

She was first commissioned with the honor in 1983 when long-timeweatherman Woodie Assaf was asked to reign over the parade. Everyyear since, parade coordinator Mary Lou Webb has asked Smith todesign a beautiful afghan to give to the parade’s grandmarshal.

“Most of the time she gives me a picture to go by or has an ideaof what she wants,” said Smith, mentioning the use of emblems,official seals and logos on the afghans.

It takes her just a little over a week to create an afghan withthe use of a crocheting needle and yarn.

“I make it where people can use either side. One side is solidand the other has a design,” she said.

She also customizes her afghans for family members with designsfrom a confederate flag to a fire truck or an oil rig, depending onthe request. When her sons were younger, she designed and donatedafghans to their Boy Scouts troop or baseball teams.

Her afghans can also be spotted in the offices or homes of otherwell-known Mississippians, such as radio personality Paul Ott orthe owners of large businesses in the state.

She even donated an afghan to the Ronald McDonald House inJackson for the families to use while tending to a loved one in anearby hospital. At least one of her afghans has been viewed byhundreds of people at the space museum in Columbus, Ga.

“The shuttle Challenger blew up on my birthday. I made an afghanto remember it and it’s hanging in the space museum now,” shesaid.

A few years ago Smith was able to meet several dignitaries fromBude, England, when she made an afghan in honor of the town thatBude, Mississippi was named after decades ago.

“People say that someone came here (Franklin County) and builtthe sawmill and named it Bude,” said Smith.

Smith plans to continue making afghans as long as possible andshe’s glad to know someone will carry on the tradition when she canno longer. Her granddaughter, Katelynne, has already startedlearning to make the afghans and takes every opportunity to learnthe trade.

“Katelynne started learning to crochet when she was five yearsold and she sewed a skirt last year and had never even used asewing machine, so she’s got the talent,” said Smith.