I found this 1920s vintage park with a grandstand in a small town just to the north of me and took my husband and my most recent finished quilt there, so we could do some photographing. And some reminiscing.
It’s a sweet little small-town-built-long-ago park that for some miracle has remained. Named for an officer of the local cement company at the time, it’s known as the Thomas J. Fleming Memorial Park, built circa 1922-1925. Why is this important?
I grew up in a small little town (not so little anymore), but it had that feeling of walking downtown on a hot summer’s evening, catching the fireworks on the 4th of July after seeing the parade that morning. It had the feeling of being able to drop your school bag at the door, change in to your “play clothes,” and head over past the Muehlstein’s home to send this and that sailing down their irrigation canal until you knew it was time to go home for dinner. (And did I mention that my childhood nickname was Betsy?)
We’d walk up to Heber’s house and offer to find the eggs in his chicken coop for him. He’d let us. We would wind crepe paper in our bicycle spokes and all show up for a local parade. This was also a place where I was smallminded at times, like when I teased Marlene in fourth grade over something dumb, and then used up all her Scotch tape. It’s a place where others can also be mean, like when I got beat up by the Mitchell boy, and cried all the way home. (Later my mother saw him on the road, rolled down her car window and gave him a talking-to like I’d never heard.)
This small town in America was my place, where I learned to behave myself so no neighborhood mother would ever have to lean out her car window and give me a scolding. And how I wish I could go back in time and find Marlene and tell her how sorry I am. It was a place to be small, to grow up, and to leave behind.
But I catch glimpses of it when I think of it as a land of red, white and blue, where we love flags and fireworks and the Fourth of July. It’s a land of learning to get along with your neighbor because you never know when that person with the different name would give you a lifetime memory. Like when I needed to learn to ride a bike and Joan Muehlstein gripped the back of the seat, ran alongside me, and hollered, “Turn towards the wobble!”
It’s mountains and vast plains, it’s small towns and big cities. And America is where I like to be the most, even though now I’ve traveled and love Berlin and Bologna and other different places with wonderful people who’ve gone themselves through nice and mean, dark and light, thick and thin. It’s when I return from far away and see that flag on the wall at the airport with a sign that says “Welcome to the United States,” well, I get a misty-eyed, just like in those movies from the 1940s.
It’s my home, this America. And to me, it’s a pretty great place.
Betsy’s Creation • Quilt #225
Pieced by Elizabeth Eastmond • Quilted by Cathy Kreter
72″ wide x 86″ tall
Quilt began on Flag Day: June 14, 2019
Finished August 20, 2019
More info and a free worksheet for making this quilt can be found here. I also made a companion smaller flag: