Your Neighbor: Meet Evelyn Shaw
Published 12:05 am Thursday, March 23, 2023
By Mandy Haggerson
For the Clemmons Courier
Evelyn Shaw was born and raised in England. As the oldest of two siblings, she and her brother also traveled outside of the United Kingdom because of their father’s military career. “We traveled extensively. My father was in the Army for 27 years. I went to China when I was 2 years old, and when I was 7 years old, we went to India to name a few,” Shaw said.
During that time Shaw recalls the hardships on her family.
“We had to ration food. Our Christmas gift was from the Red Cross. It would be especially hard for my mother when my dad was away for war because we never knew where he was. When we did receive letters from him, they were mostly blacked out. My father was captured and was a prisoner of war for several years in Germany. The only way we found that information out was because the Red Cross put out a paper with updates on the war front. She could tell from his head tilt that it was my father from the picture in the paper,” Shaw said.
One way that Shaw got through the tough times was learning to knit from her mother. At the age of 14, Shaw had become so proficient she went to work at a dress shop. “I would take the bus to my job in the dress shop. I did that for several years to earn money, and then began working in a food shop. I knew working was important to generate an income. I also enjoyed my education very much,” Shaw said. “I switched jobs and worked in a typewriter factory until the age of 17 years old when I met my future husband, Ronald Shaw. We were married two years later.”
The Shaws moved to the United States in 1962. “My husband brought us to America. He was very good at hosiery machines. When he had gone to a convention here, they liked him and asked him to join their company. He had even acquired a patent after his name in the hosiery business. We had really discussed if the move would be best for our family and decided the opportunities were too good to pass up,” Shaw said. “He came over here first, and after a few months we joined him. At that time, we had become parents to Anne and Simon. When we left England, we only had one wooden crate that went with us, and it took six weeks to arrive.”
When Shaw arrived originally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, they did not have a car. “Whenever we went somewhere we could take the bus. I didn’t even learn how to drive until I was 31 years old. Although, I knew once we got to America that I loved it. I’m the type of person that if I do something, I resign myself to it. I was determined to make it the best opportunity possible,” Shaw said. “We lived in several places including South Carolina and then moved to North Carolina. I made all of my children’s clothes growing up. I also continued to make clothes for myself.” While raising her children, Shaw also went to work when Simon was 6 years old at Hanes Hosiery. “I stayed there for about 23 years working in their office,” Shaw said.
Through the years, Shaw still continued to create, whether it was making her daughter’s wedding dress, painting scenery pictures and baking. “I’ve entered a few items in the fair with my artwork, and I always love baking things, especially big English fruitcakes that weigh over 7 pounds,” Shaw said with a smile. “Over the years I have also started knitting dolls for my family. It takes several weeks to create them, and I love making them personalized to something that reflects their interests and passion.” Shaw has acquired patents on the dolls that she has made because they are so unique and distinct.
Shaw passed along her creativity to her daughter, Anne as well. “Anne actually taught me how to quilt. She’s quite an expert seamstress herself and I love seeing her create. Anne started her own business, Quilt Diva, and stays quite busy with her embroidery, monogramming, quilting and sewing,” Shaw said. “We love consulting each other on projects too. I respect her opinions and bouncing ideas off of one another.”
Shaw has had two new generations to share her artistic gifts with now as a grandmother and great-grandmother. Shaw, who has been widowed twice, when Ron passed away after 44 years of marriage, and her second husband Roy Marion after 14 years of marriage, is grateful for the time she gets to spend with her growing family. “I have four grandchildren and will have eight great-grandchildren this coming April. One of my great-grandchildren is in heaven,” Shaw said. “I also talk to my brother who still lives in England on the phone daily.”
When Shaw is not knitting or creating for one of her family members, she is donating her skills to her church’s missions. A member of Clemmons Presbyterian, Shaw has made many dresses for charity work and hasn’t slowed down. “When COVID-19 happened I also made about 571 masks,” Shaw said. “I’m a jack of all trades, but not a master of anything. I do enjoy making things for my family and friends. My neighbors will also ask me to help with projects here and there, and I like doing so.”
If not creating, Shaw can also be found donating her time weekly at the food pantry every week. “I’ve done that for many years, and I have no plans of stopping,” Shaw said. “I love giving back. I used to take photos of the babies at the hospital, however the pandemic made that a lot more challenging. I have found other ways to help in the community though, and it is nice to pitch in and do my part.”
Shaw will be 92 in December and is eager to see what creations and projects await her in 2023.