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Friday, October 12, 2018

"America First" slogan

While collecting Sweetheart & Mother Pillows for my book of the same name, I came across one that features WWI soldiers charging in battle and the pillow cover has the words, "America First." I was a bit puzzled by this and wondered about the origins of the slogan. I found my answers this week in a brief review of the book, Who Put America First, by Sarah Churchwell, as published in Smithsonian Magazine.

World War I pillow cover as seen in the book, Sweetheart & Mother
Pillows
by Patricia Cummings


Churchwell traces the reference back further than Charles Lindbergh's use in the 1940s. She found that the Republicans first used it as a slogan in the 1880s. Then, in 1915, Woodrow Wilson mentioned the phrase while suggesting neutrality in World War I. Churchwell states that the words were then taken over by isolationists and later became a slogan of the Ku Klux Klan, whom, she says, tried to say they copyrighted it (not true).

Today, "America First" is a prominent slogan of President Donald J. Trump. It now seems to be a rallying call for nativist tendencies, decreased immigration practices, and going it alone in the world by imposing severe tariffs on other countries (sometimes at the expense of our own).

I am so thankful to Sarah Churchwell for clearing up the puzzle and to Smithsonian Magazine for excerpting that part of her book.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Bennington Quiltfest - A Show Review

This year we were lucky enough to be able to attend the Bennington Quilt Fest presented by The Quiet Valley Quilters Guild of Bennington, Vermont. This was a two day affair lasting from September 15 to September 16, 2018. We had beautiful weather for traveling and the show was great fun once we arrived. The featured quilter this year was Lynn Wheatley who gave a presentation both days about her passion for quilting and teaching. The quilts on display were a nice overview of what quilters are working on today. I have picked out five quilts that I really enjoyed.

"Mrs. Billings' Coverlet" by Betty King is a colorful, medallion style quilt


"Mrs. Billings' Coverlet" is a hand pieced, machine pieced, appliqued and long arm quilted quilt by Betty King. It is described as "a version of a quilt originally made in England in 1790. There are 15 frames or borders using 5,400 pieces." It took the maker three years to complete it.

Marion May Bluto's quilt top, finished by Nancy Jarrett
who calls it "Happy Hexagons (Endless Chain)"


We love to see old quilt tops finished by succeeding generations. "Happy Hexagons (Endless Chain)" is a family quilt started in the 1930s or early 1940s by Marion May Bluto and finished in 2005 by her granddaughter, Nancy Jarrett. It is hand pieced and machine pieced and hand tied. The current quilt owner is Susan Moore.

"Remember the Ladies" by Connie Harris Farrington is a
quilt inspired by a statement by Abigail Adams 


"Remember the Ladies," words that were an admonition in a letter to John Adams from his wife Abigail, are represented by 63 images of "ladies" in various walks of life. This two-sided quilt by Connie Harris Farrington was hand quilted, machine pieced and fused.

"My Birds in My Paradise" is an original quilt by Nan Rae Dobbert


"My Birds in My Paradise" by Nan Rae Dobbert features birds of various kinds and is a quilt that was hand pieced, machine pieced, appliqued, and long arm quilted.

"Quilt Diva: Mrs. Bobbin Winder" by Carolmae Wintermute


"Quilt Diva: Mrs. Bobbin Winder" by Carolmae Wintermute is based on a pattern from Amy Bradley Designs, LC. The project was done with others from the Pieceful Valley Quilt Guild and is hand quilted, appliqued, machine pieced, and machine quilted. There were three other "Quilt Diva" quilts in the show.

This show attracts participants from Vermont, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts. There were plenty of great vendors with a wide range of goods. The challenge quilts and raffle quilt were fun to see. It is a true statement that many volunteers helped to make the show a success! It is always amazing to see the variety of quilts at a large show such as this one! We were certainly happy that we made the effort to attend! Don't miss next year's show held on September 14-15, 2019 in which the featured quilter will be John Kubiniec of Big Rig Quilting.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Books Worthy of Your Time

The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels by Jon Meacham is a book I looked forward to reading. So far, I have not been disappointed. Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize winner, a presidential historian and a scholar whose books have appeared on the New York Times Bestselling List. He carefully links what is happening today to events that occurred in the past and has a resounding message -  We will get through this! Optimism and hope are always stronger messages that fear, criticism and anger. I cannot wait to read the rest of the book but I am delayed because his sentences and quotes are so astute, I want to keep reading them again!

The other book on my reading list is Home on the Plains: Quilts and the Sod House Experience by Stephanie Grace Whitson and Kathy Moore. That was published in 2011 by C&T Publishing. Like most out-of-print books, the price of the book has skyrocketed by sellers hoping to make a profit. We checked many sources for the book before finding a copy at a reasonable price at the University of Nebraska's bookstore online. I have only read a few pages of the book but am excited by the photographs and the quilt projects that are featured in the book. I might have to plan another quilt!

It is good to have some compelling reading material to stimulate the grey cells. I would be doing more knitting except that carpal tunnel syndrome is getting in the way of that. I am happy to say that last year I read the entire Poldark series. Those books by Winston Graham are definitely worth reading. I cannot wait for the newest Poldark series on television (PBS) to be featured at the end of this month. There are plenty of good books available. A reader is never bored!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Sweetheart & Mother Pillows 1917-1945

On October 1, 2018 I am scheduled to provide a talk and slide presentation (for seniors) from 11:15 a.m. -12:30 p.m. at the City Wide Community Center Auditorium at the Concord Parks & Recreation Building (the former Dame School on the Heights in Concord, NH). The focus of the discussion will be historical artifacts featured in my book, Sweetheart & Mother Pillows 1917-1945.

A French postcard is featured as the background for the cover of my book.
 A few pillow covers can also be seen. (Schiffer Publishing, 2011)


The military pillow covers were bought at the PX or BX, sometimes hastily and post-paid on the spot, as military personnel shipped overseas to fulfill combat missions, not knowing if they would ever return. Many who served did not come back, as you well know. Today, many of these pillow covers are surfacing as odd and unknown objects, stored away for many years, folded, and in bureau drawers. Descendants, not having a personal attachment to the objects, are selling them online or to antiques dealers.

When I first saw a military pillow of this kind, I was struck by its color (apricot), its sentimental poem, and Army insignia. My book has 247 images, most of them pillow covers from World War I and World War II, as well as a chapter on Civilian Conservation Corps pillow covers (and history).

At the moment, I have only one pillow cover in my possession. It has a poem dedicated "To A Special Friend." It is from a special friend so I plan to treasure it and keep it! The rest of the pillow covers I gave to either the National World War I Museum & Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri or to the Wright Museum of World War II in Wolfeboro, NH and to the Civilian Conservation Corp (C.C.C. Legacy Foundation) in Virginia.

Through the words that appear on the pillow covers, I was able to learn a great deal about American history including information about military bases and military personnel and it was fun learning! I hope that many of you will be able to hear my presentation or, if not, will avail yourself of the continued availability of my book, ($24.95 plus shipping). My e-mail address is:  quiltersmuse@gmail.com


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Red Geraniums and the Passing of Senator McCain

Red Geraniums

Life did not bring me silken gowns
Nor jewels for my hair,
Nor signs of gabled foreign towns
In distant countries fair,
But I can glimpse, beyond my pane, a green and friendly hill,
And red geraniums aflame upon my window sill.

The brambled cares of everyday,
The tiny humdrum things,
May bind my feet when they would stray,
But still my heart has wings
While red geraniums are bloomed against my window glass,
And low above my green-sweet hill the gypsy wind-clouds pass.

And if my dreamings ne’er come true,
The brightest and the best,
But leave me lone my journey through,
I’ll set my heart at rest,
And thank God for home-sweet things, a green and friendly hill,
And red geraniums aflame upon my window sill.

Martha Haskell Clark (1885-1922)

                             ###

I received this poem from a friend in Arizona right after I had watched the memorial service for Senator John McCain. Jane Stowell further states:

"There aren't any green hills here (in Arizona) but I can have geraniums. I feel like when we pass from this life, we will get a world tour to see the earthly beauties God created. It really wouldn't be fair to let only those with means of travel see it all. So, I will be content with what I have and bring in geraniums."

What lovely thoughts on such a sad day when a true patriot and statesman is being remembered! His memorial service was befitting a man of greatness. Fame came to him, not because of any acquisition of worldly goods, not because of any scandals, but because he put his country and the good of others first. He was in service to his fellow man. The tribute was a very moving one. As a man who loved Nature, especially hummingbirds and animals, I wonder if John McCain had any geraniums on his windowsill. Rest in peace, Senator McCain! You are an inspiration to us all!