For Those Who Made The Sacrifice

I recently received a number of surprise emails with attachments from the sister who happily dives into piles of old photos and documents, sending me anything that she thinks might catch my fancy.  Louise had turned up a number of WWII era letters to and from Alvin D. Saucier (my father’s younger brother) after his enlistment; the kind of letters that say a lot without saying anything at all.  The folks at home trying to make out like things were normal, and the son in the service so obviously lonely for news of home and family.

I’ve had a wonderful time working through the letters; simple, everyday chatter of babies getting heat rash because the summer had been so very hot that year, the menfolk getting in quality fishing time, but who didn’t catch a lot because the summer had been so very hot that year, and recent overnight showers that cooled things down a bit and will do the garden good because the summer had been so very hot that year.

There was even news of Mrs. Sweeney returning home after an extended and mysterious absence, and that piece of news prompted me to ask myself a few questions:

  1. Who on earth was Mrs. Sweeney?
  2. I wonder where Mrs. Sweeney went for a number of weeks in June & July of 1943?
  3. I wonder if Mrs. Sweeney went to Chicago and took her cow along?  No. Wait. Back up. That was Mrs. O’Leary along about 1871.
V-Mail to Alvin D. Saucier from his mother, Ida Hoffmann Saucier

V-Mail to Alvin D. Saucier, from his mother, Ida (Hoffmann) Saucier, wife of James Garfield Saucier

(Note: You can click on any of these items for an embiggened view.)

The answer to my first question was buried in the pile of email in another letter to Al, this one from Bill Sweeney, dated 21 September 1945.  My best guess is that Bill was the son of the much-travelled Mrs. Sweeney, and in his letter, Bill made no mention of the weather.  His talk was all soldier-to-soldier, mostly concerned with daydreams of life after mustering out.  He did, however, mention that he was just back from “a typical sailors’ leave, one that he wasn’t much proud of, but had to admit it was fun”.  Okay.  A period can be put on that topic.  Moving along.

letter from Bill Sweeney to Alvin D. Saucier dated 21 September 1945

Bill Sweeney and Al Saucier - 1945

Bill Sweeney and Al Saucier – 1945

More letters, more news from home, and the very last attachment included assorted photographs that Al had saved – one photo in particular caught my eye, it was older than the WWII items – and then I realized what I was seeing…

Battlefield burial site of Charles Clide Saucier near Nancy, France

Battlefield burial site of Charles Clide Saucier

And For Those Who Made The Supreme Sacrifice

Charles Clide Saucier 1895-1918

Charles Clide Saucier 1895-1918

The photo was a burial registration photograph for Charles Clide Saucier, who on 27 September 1918, died of wounds received during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  This photo managed to reignite my search for great-Uncle Charlie’s final resting place, and allowed me to close another mystery – the date on great-Uncle Ben’s letter home during WWI.

Along the way, I’ve discovered a few more documents and newspaper clippings that not only shed a little light on Charlie’s time in the Army, but from his draft registration, we know a bit about his physical characteristics as well: tall, gray-eyed, with light colored hair.

WWI Draft Registration Card Charles Clide Saucier 5 June 1917

WWI Draft Registration Card Charles Clide Saucier 5 June 1917

Franklin County Tribune (Union, Missouri) Friday, 8 Nov 1918 page 4

Franklin County Tribune (Union, Missouri) Friday, 8 Nov 1918 page 4

From the clipping above, I think that it’s safe to infer that Ben’s letter home was one of the letters written on September 25, 1918.  In the letter, Ben wrote of being bivouacked outside of Nancy, describing his surroundings along with non-battle related experiences in a very general way.  The American Expeditionary Forces had liberated Nancy September 16, 1918, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive began ten days later on September 26, 1918.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Tuesday, 5 Nov 1918 (Main Editiion) page 4

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Tuesday, 5 Nov 1918 (Main Editiion) page 4

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Thursday, 14 Nov 1918 page 6

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Thursday, 14 Nov 1918 page 6. The Mrs. Thomas O’Donnell referenced in the clipping was Louise (Lulu Saucier) O’Donnell, one of Charles’ sisters.

Application for Military Headstone/Marker - Charles Clide Saucier

Application for Military Headstone/Marker – Charles Clide Saucier. The application was made by Mrs. Wm. Pace of Washington, Missouri aka Henrietta (Hattie Saucier) Pace, another of Charles’ sisters.

St. Anthony's Catholic Cemetery, Oak Grove (Stanton), Franklin County, Missouri.

St. Anthony’s Catholic Cemetery, Oak Grove (Stanton), Franklin County, Missouri.

I’d long assumed that Charlie’s headstone at Stanton, Missouri was a cenotaph, no remains, simply a marker for family members to take comfort in.  I’ve been through every database I could find, the final say coming from the American Battlefield Monuments Commission – there is no record of Charles Saucier being interred in any of the recognized cemeteries overseas.  Which brings me to the conclusion that Charlie was, after all, brought home.  The one unchecked item remaining on my to-do list is to apply to the Joint Mortuary Affairs Center for Charlie’s repatriation records.

Wish me luck that the records survived the fire of 1973 at the Personnel Records Center in St. Louis (records for Army personnel discharged November 1, 1912 through January 1, 1960 equaled an 80% loss).


A Redhead With A Leopard-Print Handbag

Colored glamorous shot of Lucille Ball and Arnaz standing.A true blast from the past has been lurking in the back of my brain lately, an episode of I Love Lucy© from December 17, 1955 titled: The Passports.

If by some strange turn of events you’ve never-ever seen this episode (perhaps you’ve been off-world on an exploratory trip to Alpha Centauri), this is the episode where, after finagling a tag-along trip to Europe with Ricky, Lucy finds that she doesn’t have the necessary documents to get a passport. In addition, she’s somehow misplaced the only blood relative who can vouch for her… her mother.

Long story short, after finding that there is no record of her birth in her home town, she goes through the motions of trying to find someone older than her, who knew her as a child.

Lucy locates Helen Ericson Sears Kaiser, the woman who babysat Lucy as a child, only to be stymied when Helen won’t admit her real age in front of her husband. With Helen explaining the situation to her husband in some truly irritating baby talk, all the while calling him ‘daddy’ (Ack! I’m sure I coughed up a hairball during that scene!), the story gets twisted around until Helen and her husband decide that, of course, Lucy was the babysitter, and Helen the child.

[Lucy Trivia: the leopard-print handbag in the photo above made appearances in several I Love Lucy© episodes. Sometimes it belonged to Lucy. Sometimes it belonged to Ethel. But I think that I would luv to have that handbag most of all.]

Determined to make the European tour by any means possible, Lucy decides to stowaway on board the ship in Fred and Ethel’s old vaudeville trunk – a trunk that had been purchased from a man with a seal act, ergo the handy air-hole for ventilation. Lucy tries the trunk on for size, and of course the trunk locks, and of course the key to the trunk is in the pocket of the skirt that Lucy is wearing.

Just then, the doorbell rings, and who should walk in? Why it’s old Doc Peterson, the man who delivered Lucy in (West) Jamestown, NY.

At last, somebody who can identify Lucy! But Lucy’s still locked in that darned trunk…

  • Dr. Peterson: (speaking to Ethel) I couldn’t sign anything until I’m sure that she’s really Lucille McGillicuddy.
  • Lucy: (from inside the trunk) Oh, no.  I am, Dr. Peterson, I am. I’m Lucille McGillicuddy.
  • Dr. Peterson: Well, I don’t know. Uh, I thought she (points at Ethel) was you at first.
  • Ethel: Oh, no, now, you could see her. (points to the hole in the trunk) There’s a hole right there in the trunk. You look right through there, you can see that that’s Lucy.
  • Dr. Peterson: Well, I’ll take a look. (Bends down and looks through the hole in the trunk) Hi… I can’t tell a thing.
  • Lucy: Oh, now, wait a minute, Doc. Wait a minute. (from inside the trunk, Lucy puts one eye up to the hole) Here’s one of my eyes. Here’s my other eye. Here’s my nose. Here’s my mouth. Put them all together and they spell Lucille McGillicuddy!
  • Dr. Peterson: All that is, is an eye, an eye, a nose and a mouth.

Realizing that she’ll never get her passport, never go to Europe, and likely spend the rest of her days locked in the trunk, Lucy bursts into tears. Doc Peterson cheers her up by remembering a song that he taught her when she was a child.

And so, with Lucy singing ‘Skip to My Lou‘ from inside the trunk, and Doc Peterson dancing a jolly little jig, a perfect opportunity presents itself for Ricky to burst into the apartment with a classic, “What’s going on here?!”

And I was going where with this?

Skip To My Lou quilt: by way of sample blocks with an assist from Lucy Ricardo.

ribbon swirl quiltingI’ve spent a lot of time lately – when not rerunning old sitcoms in my head; cleaning the sewing room, and culling and organizing fabric, including some much needed rearranging of storage furniture and worktables. The cleaning, sorting and organizing went fairly smoothly.  I’d reached the point where I could stand back and admire my hard work – all except for three boxes.  What was in those boxes you ask?

Stuff that hadn’t been unpacked since we moved to Oklahoma (cough… thirteen years ago). If pressed to admit the truth, those boxes had been packed up when we left Texas and relocated to Colorado, and then from Colorado to Oklahoma. A time capsule of quilting ‘stuff’, untouched by human hands for centuries… um, maybe let’s just say years.

applique orphan block doodle quiltingThere were orphan blocks and sample blocks and vintage coverlets, but mainly lots of sample blocks.  Sample blocks from my earliest quilting days when I still regularly made sample blocks.  And I clearly remember saying to myself, “Save these, you’ll be able to make an entire quilt with a stockpile of sample blocks someday.”

Well, that someday never came until those blocks and I had traveled down a long, long road together.

I had two choices: pitch ’em or use ’em. Of course I went with the opportunity to procrastinate, and so the cleaning, and the culling, and the organizing, and the generally satisfied feeling of a job being well done went right out the window.

orphan block sampler quilt checkered doodle quiltingSometimes when faced with orphan blocks, the blocks seem to stare right back at me through an (imaginary) hole in an old vaudeville trunk, saying, ‘Here’s my eye. Here’s my other eye. Here’s my nose. Here’s my mouth’, and I can’t see enough of anything that will suggest a way for the blocks to come together.

But making this little quilt was one of those moments when the blocks and I didn’t end up in a standoff, they very nearly jumped into place themselves.

And the truly amazing part of this sampler?  Only one – count ’em one – inset seam. How ever did that happen? Dunno. Some days, and some quilts, just go skipping along like that – even quilts made by a crazy lady who can take a life lesson from an episode of I Love Lucy©.

orphan blocks sampler little quiltstars applique doodle quilting

Whimsy: It’s Icing On The Cake

In my book, someone who turns down the opportunity to let a little whimsy brighten their day is as sad as a lost ball in high weeds.

I’ve been making headway on the patches I salvaged from the scrap bin – haven’t had the time or the energy to cut any more scraps, but I’ve got more than enough to finish up the current project.

pinstripeThe lightweight gray suiting?  After spending too much time dithering, and doing my best Jimmy Durante imitation trying to decide whether to use the right side or the wrong side, I finally decided to go with the pinstripes.

I had so few stripes in the scrap bin – florals I’ve got, with some checks, and a few dots, but I was definitely stripe poor.  I love geometrics and have a tendency to use everything I have quickly, so pinstripes were the only way to go.  You know the rule of five, right?  Large floral, small floral, check, stripe, dot.

Lately, Edyta Sitar has been claiming the rule of five as her formula, but truthfully, decorators have been using it for decades.  And that’s fine; Edyta is a quilting goddess, and I can forgive goddesses quite a bit if they keep the eye candy coming.

Oh, that was kind of off topic.

As I was saying, the 32-patches were stacking up as a result of staying with the leader/ender method, and I had the suiting already cut into rectangles to fit, so I decided to start slapping parts on the design wall.  Then, when I wasn’t looking, this lil’ guy popped in.

Applique Swallows

And before I knew exactly what was going on, he whistled up some friends.  I suspect that these five are outriders for a whole flock, and that makes me just about as happy as a boardinghouse pup.

Whimsy… gotta love it.

Outriders of the flock


Sturgis Union School

Sturgis Union School

Here’s a brick wall that I’ve been taking a semi-masochistic pleasure in butting my head up against.  A single photo found among other family photographs that has no identification other than the imprint on the left: Sturgis Union School.  Is this a keepsake from a cherished friend?  Or is there (fingers crossed) a family member here?  So far, all research has ended in a null result.

Date?  1860-ish.  The original size of the photograph is not known to me, and the only other clue is the sepia toned albumen print on thin paper that has been mounted on card stock – it could be either a carte de visite, or a cabinet card – both were popular in the 1860’s.  I dislike being ambiguous, so for starters, let’s put this one in the late 1860’s.  I arrived at that date through the details and hints in their clothing, and by keeping in mind that these people were almost certainly school staff and would dress conservatively to set a good example for their students…

Nearly bandbox fresh:  Bodices of the 1860’s fastened down the front with buttons, and the buttons got progressively larger as the decade drew to a close.  Small white collars often fastened by a brooch were considered fashion forward.  Shoulders were long and sloping, with sleeve openings that circled the upper arm.  Bishop sleeves, jockey waists with belts, full skirts with a slightly flatter front, hints of braid and bodice trim, and quietly prominent jewelry, all suggest the early part of the decade had been left behind and trends were moving towards the more flamboyant styles of the 1870’s.

Coiffures: Crimps were worn in a girlish and playful style, but the conservative fashionistas often wore their hair center-parted and pulled back into a bun, with a hair net, then let the bun release to fall down the neck.

Birds of a different feather: Let’s not exclude the less showily dressed – and perhaps more telling members of the group.  These two men seem to be dressed in a transitional style; the jackets are baggy (sack jackets), with large flat lapels and low collars, a style very popular in the late 1850’s, but both men sport single-breasted vests, high shirt collars with narrow silk ties, and not the double breasted waistcoat and two-inch wide and knotted silk ties of the previous decade.  On the other hand, neither one wears the wide and squared-ended neckties worn low on the throat that were so popular in the 1870’s.  Their coats and vests are made from contrasting fabrics.  Ditto suits – where all components are made of the same material – were still a novelty in the 1860’s.

The latest from the tonsorial parlor: Hair is cut ear-length in the back, parted on the side, and combed smoothly back with neatly trimmed sideburns and whiskers – a huge departure from the longer, over-the-ear style with a high front wave and the smoothly shaven face of the 1850’s.

I’ve spent so much time being fascinated by the details found in the photograph – from the obvious (that carpet!), to the not-so obvious (is that a pelisse or a paletot?), that even if there is no family connection, I still have a piece of history that has given me a lot of enjoyment.  I adore the nearly matching plaid fabrics that two of the young women are wearing, and the older gent with the far-seeing eyes blows me away.

And the poses; one man’s hand placed on a woman’s shoulder, another woman has her hand on a chair back, the two women in the back row turned slightly inward, one posed in 3/4 profile, and the favorite; the young woman seated in front – yes, the one who is wearing the jacket – fingertips resting on her face, and lounging with an elbow braced on the central figure’s knee.  All of this seems to suggest the idea of a casual family group, but I don’t see any similarities in the faces, and that leaves me firmly in the camp that says this is a group of coworkers (note the bands worn on the ring fingers of the two women in plaid – they weren’t students).

But… there is one young woman, center row left, whose features bear a certain family resemblance, and teaching as a vocation keeps popping up in the Saucier family – could we be connected to one of the people in this photo, after all?

Oh, Why Not?

So Many Scraps

Everybody is doing it apparently.

It’s being done at Temecula Quilt Co., and they’re doing it over at A Quilting Life, too.  Repro Quilt Lover is doing it in my email inbox – thanks to a well meaning favorite SIL.  Even my friend Katell is doing it over at La Ruche des Quilteuses, but with a slightly different twist.  Yes, it’s that time of the year when every quilter in cyberspace has announced the same pesky resolution, the one that I try to sidestep most every year, because the message is the same as always: LET’S USE THOSE SCRAPS!

All through January, I heard the catechism about organizing and reducing the size of my scrap bin.  As if I don’t carry enough guilt already about the mountain of scraps that sits idle in my sewing room.  Since the first of the year, my mantra has been: I can ignore it. I have ignored it. I will ignore it.

And it’s not as if I haven’t got yardage to work with.  Come on… I just got back from my annual pilgrimage to the Houston Quilt Festival.  When it comes to yardage – I’m flush.

I can be mule stubborn when it comes to not doing something just because I’ve been told that I should do it, but my goodness, that bin fills up with offcuts faster than I can use them.  After much internal debate, I’ve decided (again), that the pile of fabric must lose the contest of wills this year.

But actions always speak louder than words.  It took me a full day to translate a bit of this…


Into this… so neat, so tidy.

Scrap Tin

Folks,  that’s a whole lot of ironing and single cuts inside that not-quite-filled tin – but a rough estimate tells me that there are about one thousand 2.5″ patches in there.  And that pile of remainders in the upper right corner?  Those will be cut down into even smaller, usable patches.

{{Sigh}}  Why didn’t I start doing this years ago?  Wait.  I did.  But then I gave up after one of my “ooh shiny” moments and moved on to another project that didn’t involve cutting up itty-bitty scraps.

I’ve no plans to drop everything and start another quilt – the last thing I need is one more UFO (unfinished object) cluttering up my design wall.  The master plan is that I’ll use the patches as leader/ender projects.  For you non-quilters out there, that is when you run a few sets through the machine before starting in on the main event, namely the current project, and before you’re finished for the day, you run a few more sets through.  Leaders and enders.  All the while you’re gradually sneaking up on an extra quilt finish.

It’s been a week since I’ve begun taking a whack at the contents of my scrap bin.  So far, I’ve completed nine of these 32-patch units simply by using the leader/ender method.  Where am I going with these?  Dunno, but I’m sure something will occur to me.


pinstripeIt’d be nice if the “something that occurs to me” includes this gray pinstripe.  It’s 4 yards of vintage summer suiting that was gifted to me by, you guessed it, Miss G.  But which side should I use?  The right side pinstripe is very nice, but the wrong side has a shot cotton effect that is equally intriguing.

However it works out, I’ll keep one thought uppermost in that fluffy little brain of mine:  this is not a resolution, it’s simply another episode in my quilting adventure.

Crazy lady here, saying toodles and happy trails!



Did It Happen At The World’s Fair?

More buried treasure from central Missouri unearthed by my sister, Louise – a cache of photos of Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier (1888-1963), and her husband, James Garfield Saucier (1887-1962).

Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier 1888-1963

I have a theory that this photo might’ve been taken during a trip to St. Louis, when Ida went to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition along with a Miss Saucier, Flora Mack, Minnie Rueppele, and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Schmuke, all of Stanton, MO – a newsy tidbit pulled from the Republican Headlight of Union, MO dated 29 July, 1904.  Ida would’ve been 16 years old… just about right, I’d say (no corroboration, just happy daydreaming).

I suspect that the photo above was a proof provided by Sidney Studio of St. Louis – the photo does seem sloppily mounted – and that the following photo is the finished portrait.  It’s the same shot, but cropped, and done by L.J. Newton – perhaps a photographer that was local to Stanton or Union?

Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier 1888-1963

Then a pair of professional portraits of Ida and Jim from a little later, possibly the late 1930s or early 1940s.  The photographs were shot by Ruth Rust in Jefferson City, MO (at one time, Miss Rust was the official photographer for members of the state legislature and state officers).

Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier 1888-1963

James Garfield Saucier 1887-1962

Last but not least, a snapshot of our grandparents from the early 1950s: Jim and Ida Saucier in front of their home out on Route M in Taos, MO (or was it Route Y?).  The house is still standing – perhaps my ancillary database (Louise) will tell me where it is.

Ida and Jim Saucier - Taos, MO

A Lot Of People Like Snow…

225bI find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water — Carl Reiner

Oh dear, it’s winter again.

So what do we do when a storm rolls through two days after Christmas with winds gusting 60-70 mph, leaving 3.5 inches of ice in it’s wake, knocking out all of the electrical sub-stations in our area, and leveling utility poles for miles?

Refugee out, because we knew it was going to be an uphill climb back to normal.  Eight days without power if you’re counting… and I was.

233bWe stuck it out at home for three days, and are old pros at making our coffee and meals in the fireplace.  But our water is supplied by a well – no electricity, no water – and we haven’t gotten around to adding a solar system to power the pump, so water soon became the real issue.

When it got to the point that we’d used up the emergency non-potable water, and found ourselves gazing longingly at the water troughs the donkeys use (and the occasional silly rabbit that quickly becomes a dead silly rabbit)… well, it was time to think about 4-wheeling out in search of more civilized living conditions.

220bWe did our best Grapes of Wrath imitation and loaded up clothing, bedding, incidentals, and all three dogs.  First stop was the vet’s office, and after some undignified begging – we weren’t the only homeless family that week – Big Jack, bigger Tank, and lil’ sister Tilly had a new home for the duration.

Then it was off to the hotel for us – land of temperature controlled rooms, running water, lights, and free breakfasts.  Best of all?  A flat screen television and an outlet to plug my sewing machine into.

You didn’t think that I’d leave my sewing machine at home, did you?  Did you, really?

234bAnd living in a hotel isn’t that bad.  All of our meals were eaten out; no cooking, no washing up.  No cleaning up after myself either, a maid came in every single day and tidied up after me – coooool.

Lots of cable channels to choose from, a generous block of time spent in my “sewing area” after work, but before the cocktail hour, and a pile of books received as Christmas gifts to help fill in the blank spots.  All in all, a fairly sweet deal.

227bNote to self: a hotel-sized mini microwave is too small for a standard size bag of microwave popcorn… the burned smell lingers.

There was also enough time to wander the halls in the hotel, snapping random phone pictures of the room numbers.

So… can you identify the international chain that we parked our big-old-fat-ones in?

One of my sisters also chipped in with some interim entertainment (I forgot to mention the free WiFi).  Louise had been rummaging through a cousin’s keepsake bin/box/trashcan, and turned up a treasure in the process.

A birth announcement for a 10# boy, born 5 May 1910, son of James Garfield Saucier (with a big assist from Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier).  The postcard was addressed to Arthur Glauser, care of Judge Glauser.  Arthur was the husband of Julia (Hoffmann) Glauser, Ida’s older sister.  I haven’t been able to ferret out any information on Judge Glauser, but my bet would be that he was Arthur’s pappy.

As for the 10# baby boy?  That would be our dad, Leo James Saucier.  Thanks sis – you did great!