Monthly Archives: May 2013

Block Thirty-Eight: Nonsense

i’ll get to the block later – crazy woman talking

I was recently nominated for the Liebster Award by antarabesque – the award being a way for blogs with small readerships to expand their visibility and to learn more about the individual bloggers.

Originally, the award recipient was required to answer eleven questions about themselves and nominate eleven more blogs in turn… a global chain letter if you will.  In its most recent incarnation, the requirements for accepting the Liebster have been downgraded, recipients needing to answer and nominate only five in each category.

After much consideration, I’ve decided to accept a semi or half-Liebster, answering the five questions with as much sincerity and soberness as I can muster, which as usual, ain’t much.  As for recommending blogs?  You might explore the list of blogs I follow, most are small (under 200 readers), and really, not all of them are about quilting.

How many jobs have you had and which did you like the most?  My daddy was a traveling man, and I married a traveling man.  As a result, I’ve turned my hand to whatever opportunities were available at the time, some were good some weren’t good.  I think it would be far easier to list the jobs I’ve never held.  I’ve never been: a carny, a personal shopper, an astrologer, an eye bank technician, an accordion mechanic, a venom milker, a mall Santa, or an extreme AC repairman – though I will say that they all sound like interesting career paths in one way or another.

What was your favorite school subject?  Please refer back to traveling man in the previous question.  I attended a grand total of seventeen elementary schools, two junior high schools, and five high schools in assorted southwestern states.  I was far too busy trying to keep my grades up, with little opportunity to favor one subject over another… unless you’ll let me count ditching class to go to the lake as a favorite subject?

What is number one on your bucket list?  Living forever.  That ought to help me accomplish whatever is currently in the #2 position.

What do you wish you had more time for? Harness training my donkeys, reading, getting a check mark for every single item that appears on my to-do list, more reading, building a working trebuchet, and yes, even more reading.

Do you collect anything and if you do, what? This was a tough one to answer, so I did a full tour of the house, compiling data as I went (complete with bullets and footnotes).  The results of my findings are as follows: Apparently I collect Dust Bunnies and Unidentifiable Leftovers.

liebstersoapthe saga continues: the fight for women’s rights

Once upon a time, and not so very long ago, there were an abundance of idiotic theories that described the morbid effects of physical exercise on a woman’s body.  Anything from operating a treadle sewing machine to bicycle and horseback riding (astride) – and walking with any other purpose than a slow meander through one’s garden was frowned upon.  All exercise was considered an unhealthy pastime for a woman, both physically and mentally, and if a woman threw caution to the wind by ignoring this advice, medical pundits of the day were certain that she ran the risk of permanent reproductive damage.

NonsenseNonsense is the name of the block that Barbara Brackman used to remind us of the propaganda and social pressures to which our foremothers were subjected.

the true definition of nonsense: micro quilting

Moving further into the realm of nonsense, here’s what I’ve been up to in the last week, the Itty-Bitty Pinwheels pattern by Primitive Gatherings.  The quilt top finished at 10″ square (25.4 cm) with 1″ blocks.  A wonderful way to use scraps, but not so great in terms of my mental health.

My Itty-Bitty Pinwheel Quilt

Feeling A Wee Bit White Rabbit-ish

Lately, I find that I’m often running behind myself, but this is my big chance to play a little catch up.  Here are blocks thirty-four through thirty seven in the Grandmother’s Choice quilt project, in clockwise order: Coffee Cup, Granny’s Choice, (Not A) Sunbonnet Baby, and Nameless Star.

mosaic

I wasn’t crazy-happy with two of the suggested blocks in the last four weeks – first up, there was the Coffee Cup block, which was a pieced cup and saucer with an appliqued cup handle.  It seemed more mug than cup, so I opted to draft my own applique block instead – a fairly easy fix.

Then there was the Sunbonnet Baby (groan).  My godmother’s mother was either a close friend or perhaps simply a pen pal of Bertha Corbett, creator of the Sunbonnet Baby.  For whatever reason, the two women corresponded, and several of Corbett’s letters were carefully preserved, framed, and proudly displayed on the ‘wall of shame’ in their family room.  Here’s an example of what the letters looked like, the only difference being the content.

Owing to my early, and unavoidable exposure, I managed to develop an overwhelming sense of twee with all things connected with a Sunbonnet Baby (seriously, there was no way to get around seeing the Corbett letters, when all I really wanted to do was watch the Wallace and Ladmo Show on television).  Imagine my dismay when I saw that block thirty-six was an homage to those very same little darlings.  I simply could not go along with that plan.  In the words of Frank Morgan who played the palace guard in The Wizard of Oz, “Not no way!  Not no how!”  Blasphemous as it may seem, I have fairly strong feelings on this subject, as you may have guessed.

The theme of week thirty-six was Testament of Youth, and instead of a Sunbonnet Baby (shudder), I opted for a block designed by Aileen Bullard and published in the Kansas City Star in 1932.  The original block called for yarn ringlets (probably à la Shirley Temple), but yeah, I had to fix that, too.  The block is very cute any way you look at it, but it’s a cuteness that I can live with.

Granny’s Choice was a breeze, and I think that it made up into a really interesting finished block.  I enjoy looking at blocks that suggest a whirly-twirly kind of movement, and the blades in this block certainly do that – I can easily imagine using the Granny’s Choice pattern for an entire quilt.

Nameless Star was a fun block to plan and piece as well.  But… there I was, face-to-face yet again with a large, plain center patch – and so help me, I cannot resist tweaking those large expanses of fabric.  A pinwheel center seemed the proper way to go.

Backtracking for a minute

So who, exactly, were Wallace and Ladmo?  Oh my, what you missed not growing up with that wacky duo.  It was kid TV at it’s best, a program that ran for 35 years (April 1, 1954 to December 29, 1989) on KPHO-TV Channel 5, in Phoenix, Arizona.

The name morphed over the years, beginning with It’s Wallace?, updated later to Wallace & Company, and finally finishing up as The Wallace and Ladmo Show.  No matter which title ran in the opening credits, it became one of the longest running, locally produced children’s television shows earning nine Emmy awards in the process.

I think, perhaps, that I’ll save the full story of Bill Thompson (Wallace) and Ladimir Kwiatkowski (Ladmo) for another day.

Wallace and Ladmo

The Gibson Girl: An American Ideal 1890-1910

nanapa2Time for me to toss another family photograph in the mix, and the only people that I can positively identify are the couple on the left, my grandparents: James Garfield Saucier (b. 16 April 1887) and Ida Louise Hoffmann (b. 23 June 1888).  James and Ida were married 16 February 1909 in Union, Franklin County, Missouri  [Note: Anyone recognizing the three people on the right, please feel free to sing out.]

This photograph, coupled with the Saucier Family photograph in the May 1st post ought to provide enough clues to help date the latter.  To arrive at that destination, we’re going to take a stroll through the women’s department.  You men out there?  Just carry your lady love’s handbag proudly, and bear with me for a few minutes.

Ladies Fashion Circa 1900

A little bit of background: Charles Dana Gibson was an American artist who realized fame and fortune for a series of pen and ink illustrations satirizing the relationships between men and women.  The women in his artwork personified “a composite of thousands of American girls,” and he portrayed the women dressed in the current fashions.  For thirty years, Gibson’s work regularly appeared in Life, Harper’s Weekly, Scribner’s, and Collier’s, and the illustrations became so iconic that the style of the era was named for him – The Gibson Girl.

First Stop: The Beauty Salon  During the Gibson Girl period, a woman’s hair was her crowning glory, and putting your hair up was still considered a rite of passage – a young girl did not put her hair up until she was considered old enough to go out into society.  The typical Gibson Girl wore her hair piled high on her head in a loose pompadour style.

English: Pen and ink drawing of the Gibson Gir...Second Stop:  Lingerie  The S-shaped, or “kangaroo” corset was in vogue.  Nipped waists decidedly got a thumbs up.  Busks, bustles, and crinolines… nix.  The natural silhouette – and I use that term loosely – was finding favor, but in the 1900-1910 era, that look was still a few years off.

Image: Courtesy of Bridges on the Body - bridgesonthebody.com

Image: Courtesy of Jo at Bridges on the Body

We have the hairstyle, and we have the form to hang clothes on, so let’s slide on past the After Six department in our search for daytime fashions.

Final Stop: Ladies Dresses  Frills, flounces, and furbelows were fading into the background while the tailored look took a giant step forward.  An A-line skirt was the order of the day, worn with a shirtwaist that often sported a high-necked collar.

Love in a Garden, Gibson.jpg

In the Saucier Family photograph, I count six shirtwaists in the top row alone, all with high-necked collars – and please note, every woman is wearing her hair up in the Gibson Girl style.

collarsThe following illustration for Arrow Shirts: 1907, was a lucky find.  I stumbled across it while doing some homework on the Gibson Girl, and it stopped me in my tracks.  Take another gander at the photograph above – the young woman on the far right – she’s wearing a tall, stiff collar and a narrow necktie in the manner of menswear.  Then, as now, fashion houses often based their designs on what was seen on city streets, so it really doesn’t surprise me in the least to see this advertisement dated 1907, especially during a period of conservative fashion.

Arrow Collar 1907Let’s Put A Bow On It

saucier_familyI’m very comfortable with the suggested 1902-03 dating of the Saucier Family photo, but I’ve been toying with the idea that it may have been as early as 1901 – not any earlier than that – and here’s why:

jg3I’ve extracted James G. from both photographs.  If we assume that the photo on the left was taken about 1902-03, James would have been fifteen or sixteen years old at the time.  Looks about right – so far, so good.

I’ve also extracted two more “knowns” – Mabel (b. 18 March 1899) and Eugene Field (b. 21 August 1894).  In 1902-03, Aunt Mabel would have been three or four years old, and Uncle Gene would have been eight or nine (still in short pants!).  Taking a second look, Mabel might be as young as two, and Gene as young seven, but no younger than that – so I think 1901 is a viable possibility.  I would not, however, place the photograph any later than 1903.

Which brings me back to the reason I’ve started this conversation… who were those extra women in the Saucier Family photograph?  I’ve provided a little more information for you to chew on, but for now, the ball is back in your court.

May Day – Or In This Case… Mayday

Vacations are very nice.  Unfortunately, at some time I have to admit that it’s past time to return to schedules and the workaday world.

I’ve got a new item on my to-do list (as if the list isn’t long enough already): The Frederick F. and Louise A. Saucier family photograph, circa 1902-03. I’ve spent a fair amount of time staring at the photo for the last few weeks, always referring back to the key that accompanied the photo.  Here’s my problem, I’m seeing a few names with question marks after them, and no. 5 in the top row is omitted completely.

Those of you that don’t know me are wholly unaware that I’ve got a wide streak of stubborn, and a mystery like this photo is guaranteed to bring out the mule in me.

Eugene F. Saucier Family Photograph circa 1902-03It occurred to me that it might be entertaining to make this an interactive sleuthing process, so I’m putting out a call to all the cousins.

Here are the facts: One child from a previous marriage, fifteen children born of this union, one foster daughter.  Seventeen possibles but only fourteen children in the photo.

Below I’ve listed all of the Saucier children in order of their birth.  I’ve marked in red the people I could either positively ID or eliminate altogether.  By the time this photo was taken (1902-03), William would have been in his mid-thirties, long gone from the family hearth, Frederick had died in an accident, and Andrew died as an infant (cholera, or so the story goes).  Subtract those three, and we’ve come full circle to the number fourteen again.

William – Married with home of his own
Frederick – Deceased
Gertrude
Andrew – Deceased
Henrietta – Top row, fourth from left
Louise
Alexander – Center row, left
Clara
Anthony
James – Top row, far right
Benjamin
Florence
Josephine
Eugene – Bottom row, left
Charles – Bottom row, far right
Mabel – Bottom row, third from left
Ethel – Bottom row, second from left

So I’m asking for help with this project… mayday.

If you don’t instantly recognize your grandparent, grandaunts, or granduncles in this photo, do you have some old photos tucked away for comparisons?  Pester your brothers and sisters (I pester my sisters mercilessly, one of the perks of being the baby of the family).  Have they seen the photo?  If so, do they remember anything they were told at the time?  I do see one major stumbling block, Clara, who became a Daughter of Charity, no descendants to appeal to.  But if we can ID the other thirteen, all that’s left is Clara – beautiful.

Lastly, I’m not going to post the key, yet.  I don’t want to influence you this early in the game, and logic tells me that if you have a copy of the Saucier Family photo, you probably have a key of your own anyway.

Feel free to comment with your guesses, assumptions, or “I was told” stories.  If you’d like to chat privately, for whatever reason, just leave a comment saying ’email me’, and I’ll do just that.

Color me anticipating your input.