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:
17 thoughts on “Betsy’s Creation • Quilt Finish”
A beautiful quilt in a wondrous setting Elizabeth. Your words are certainly evocative of times past.
What a beautiful epitaph for a gone-by era, a way of life that seemed idyllic, and was much more innocent than today. Your quilt suits the memorial park so well. It was the perfect venue for pictures. Between you and Susan S., I’m pea-green over your quilt-holders. I have a finish (my selvedges quilt) that’s been done for weeks, yet I can’t manage to get out and take pictures. Ah, I’ll blame it on the weather! Thanks for sharing your beautiful quilts. I always enjoy seeing what you make, and what pretty place you’ll visit to take pictures. Curious… are you using a phone to take pictures? Or do you have a DSLR camera?
What a fabulous post. Hooray for the red, white and blue.
Thank you for this wonderful post – it gave me chills and made me tear up. I can relate to so much of it, and I guess living overseas makes me extra nostalgic… Oh, and, what terrific flag quilts, both of them!
What a beautifully written post. I love town squares and flags—and our flag is beautiful. Thanks for your memories and gorgeous pictures of your quilt.
Isn’t it wonderful to have lived long enough to have such great memories? It is a great country AND a beautiful quilt. That one is on my long bucket list.
I’m going outside to hang up my flag right now! Thanks for the reminder of what a wonderful country we have. It may not be perfect but it is ours. And it’s about time a mom yelled out her car window at those abusing it. 🙂
The quilts are so lively! I like the bright colors you used and the sky blue is just the thing to set the flags off.
Thank your for sharing your memories of your small town.
Your posts have often brought back a memory of something I had not thought about in awhile; this post is special to me. I grew up in Colton and remember going to Fleming park for holiday shows and other events with my mother and younger brother. The original library, a Carnegie building, is nearby and back in those days, there was a real downtown. Before there was bus service and mom started driving, we would walk to downtown. The park was a place to stop and rest after shopping or going to the library. Before my mother died, she pointed out the park bench where she first met my father.
The town has grown bigger and, like many small towns, has been hit hard over the years with the loss of jobs that provide for the middle-class life I knew. But there is still a celebration of the town’s founding every July with fireworks. The park is used for a farmer’s market. I imagine there’s a girl who dreams of going to college and doing science. Life changes but goes on.
Elizabeth, your post is so wonderfully written I feel as tho’ I’ve stepped back in time with you. I yearn for those simpler times when being a neighbor meant something.
As much as I love seeing your quilts as they progress from concept to finish I also love the posts you write up to show off the completed quilt out in the wild in meaningful locations. I too grew up in a small town and while I knew I’d never stay there, it took me years to appreciate those who do stay and keep those small towns alive. I’ll always be a small town girl at heart and as I get older long for simpler times and a slower pace.
An emotional piece for me to read today. Happy tears of days past, memories brought to the forefront of this older mind was well timed for this holiday weekend.
Perfect place to showcase your “Flag” quilt!
On the playgrounds of small town America!
Thanks for sharing your quilt and your stories.
I truly enjoyed it!
I love reading about you feeling for America and growing up in small town 🇺🇸 USA!
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Being from a small town myself, I relate to so much of this. I love your thoughtful expression of what it means to grow up like we did, and I love the quilt that goes with it!
Another wonderful post…we just buried my BIL and I had a “moment” when the American Legion Honor Guards did the 21-gun salute and honored my BIL. The Honor Guard was comprised of about a dozen men in their late 60’s (like me!)–they stood as tall as they could with their various health challenges (one with a walker!)…what a great reminder of good old-fashioned patriotism. It was extremely moving…my BIL would have loved it!
So evocative of our childhood and a vivid tribute to America. This one is definitely for the books. And the post from Esther Valdez was so touching. Bravo!
I love this quilt and your reflections of growing up in a small town. Your insights are, as ever, spot on and so eloquently stated. My parting thought is “I wonder how my granddaughters think about their life in their community and how they will reflect on it 50 years from now?”
An appropriate setting for your quilts!