On this day in 1903, Lawrence Welk, musician, bandleader and host of his own “Champagne Music” variety television show, was born near Strasburg, North Dakota to immigrant parents from Alsace-Lorraine. Welk worked on the family farm until age 21, paying off the cost of a professional accordion. In his early career Welk led big bands in North and South Dakota and earned a degree in music from MacPhail School of Music in Minneapolis. At age 48 Welk settled in Los Angeles and started producing the Lawrence Welk Show for a local television station. The show was picked up by ABC in 1955 who ran it until 1971, and Welk arranged private syndication that took it through 1982.
This 75” x 86” quilt, titled “Champagne Breakfast” was made by Ann Kowalski of Shepherd, Michigan around 1982. The artist wrote: “The bowtie is a traditional pattern, but the colors and arrangement are the invention of the maker. The colors are light in the middle to give the feeling of the lightness of champagne; darker, passionate colors on edge. The quilt was designed on my daughters 28th birthday. She sketched out the colors and design while awaiting a breakfast in which champagne was part of the menu.” The quilt was documented as part of the Michigan Quilt Project.
On this day in 1926, the first Book-of-the-Month Club selection was published, “Lolly Willowes” (or “The Loving Huntsman”) written by English novelist Sylvia Townsend Warner. The mail-order book seller started with 4,000 subscribers and in less than twenty years, the Club had more than 550,000 members.
Norma Mossburg pieced and appliqued this top, titled “Persian Pickle” and Marilyn Lange quilted it in the summer of 2004. Mossburg had read the novel “Persian Pickle Club” about the members of a women’s quilt group. The quilt came out of a Block-of-the-Month activity. The quilt was documented as part of the Michigan Quilt Project in 2012.
On this day in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for his newest invention—the telephone. Bell was born in Scotland and first worked in London with his father, who developed a system to teach speaking to deaf people. In the 1870’s the family moved to Boston, where Bell started working on a device that would combine the telegraph and a record player so people could speak to each other from a distance. With the help of Thomas A. Watson, a Boston machinist, Bell developed a prototype that carried its first message three days after the patent was filed (beating the submission of a similar patent application by only 2 hours).
This wool embroidered telephone quilt was made in 1930 by unknown quiltmakers in Clay County, Nebraska. The record states, “Quilt maker did not quilt it. Quiltmakers were friends or neighbors. Quilt pieced by three or more persons…Made for special person, Friend/Neighbor.” It appears to be a signature quilt although the record does not confirm this. The quilt was documented as part of the Nebraska Quilt Project in 1988.
On this day in 1963, the Hula-Hoop was patented by Arthur “Spud” Melin, co-founder of the Wham-O company. Melin and friend Richard Knerr, launched the company selling slingshots (that made the sound “Wham-O” when fired) to feed falcons used for hunting. A wooden hoop used in Australian schools for exercise and the hip-gyrating Hawaiian Hula dance inspired the idea for the Hula-Hoop. Wham-O sold an estimated 25 million of the plastic toys in its first four months of production.
This quilt, titled “Enigma 3,” was born in Australia as well. Quiltmaker Mariya Waters of Melbourne, Australia made this machine quilted wholecloth wall piece in 2003, and it received 3rd place in the Miniature Quilts category at the American Quilter’s Society Quilt Show in Paducah, Kentucky. It is now part of the “Oh, Wow! Miniature Quilt Collection” of the National Quilt Museum, a collection of small quilts made to scale. Another very similar miniature quilt with the same title, made by Waters, is also documented in The Quilt Index.
On this day in 1964, American jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Sphere Monk was featured on the cover of Time magazine. Monk’s unorthodox approach to piano and unique improvisational style made him the second-most recorded jazz musician after Duke Ellington. Monk was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina in 1917, but moved with his family to New York City at the age of 5.
This quilt was also born in Rocky Mount, NC. Annie Bryant made this scrappy Log Cabin in 1925. She hand pieced and hand quilted it with cotton, wool and linen and wrote the recipient, her granddaughter’s initials in ink. The quilt was documented by Bryant’s granddaughter in 1986 during the North Carolina Quilt Project, who said, “She just wanted to give us something.”
On this day in 2010, an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale hit off the coast of central Chile killing over 500 people and injuring thousands. The quake spawned a tsunami that damaged coastal towns in Chile as well as minor damage in California and major damage to a fishing village in Japan. It was the sixth largest earthquake ever to be recorded by a seismograph.
This 18” x 14” machine pieced, appliqued and embroidered wall hanging titled “Arpillera” was made in Chile around 1980. The word arpillera means burlap fabric in Spanish, and is used to describe the complex tapestries (and in this case a pieced and embroidered textile) created by women in protest to the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship. The narrative textiles describe the harsh effects this regime had on Chile and its people.
The quilt was documented by John Beck, staff member of the Michigan State University Museum who purchased it from Madame Letellier, who was teaching at the University of Michigan at the time. Letellier is the widow of Orlando Letellier who was assassinated by the Pinochet regime in Washington D.C. in 1976. The piece tells the story of a strike by the professionals’ union (professors, engineers, etc.) in Chile.
On this day in 1928, the R&B and rock and roll pianist Antoine Dominique “Fats” Domino Jr. was born in New Orleans. The youngest of eight children in a Creole family, Fats was inspired to become a musician by his father, a well-known violinist and his uncle, a jazz guitarist. Fats, who started playing professionally in honky-tonks at the age of 10, went on to sell an estimated 65 million records worldwide.
Irma Nicholas St. Pe’ of Creole and Czech heritage, made this Patchwork Strip quilt in 1952 in Louisiana. It was documented by her grandchild during the Louisiana Quilt Documentation Project. “My grandmother was very proud of her work. She was always sewing or cooking. She was really excited about the backing material on this quilt. She made good lemon pies and cakes. My grandmother always liked to primp-up! She always wore lip-stick and earrings when going somewhere.”
On this day in 1938, Miami, Florida received its first drive-in theater. Admission was 35 cents per person, 10 cents pricier than the very first drive-in in Camden, New Jersey, which opened June 6, 1933.
Mittie Young Shaw made this String Quilt in Miami, Florida. The Wyoming Quilt Project documentation entered for this quilt estimates the date to be around 1954 “because of the fabrics, which are 1950s home decorating fabrics, the date on the newspaper ad on the foundation, and the car styles and hair styles shown in the newspaper pictures.” The owner of the quilt is Shaw’s great grandson and he wrote of her, “[she] lived through the depression years and raised her three grandchildren after her daughter died–never wasted anything–thus this scrap quilt.”
On this day in 1948, the National Association for Stock Car Racing (NASCAR) was officially incorporated under the leadership of mechanic and auto-repair shop owner William Frances Jr.
Jeanetta Holder of Indianapolis, Indiana, made this Indianapolis 500 Quilt as a gift for driver Bobby Uncer, who’s 1981 Indie 500 win was stripped a day after the race in favor of Mario Andretti. Holder had made a quilt for the winner of the race and after presenting the quilt to Andretti, she decided that she would make another one for Uncer (who was later reinstated as the winner after an lengthy appeal). The quilt is in the permanent collection of the Michigan State University Museum. The record includes the following story about Jeanetta:
As a little girl growing up on a Kentucky farm, Jeanetta made her own small racecars out of tobacco sticks and lard cans which she “raced everywhere [she] went.” Jeanetta’s childhood creative streak soon extended to sewing. By the time she was 12, Jeanetta began sewing quilts, filling them with cotton batting from cotton she grew herself.
On this day in 1792, President George Washington signed legislation that would renew the 1775 act that made the United States Post Office a cabinet department led by the postmaster general (the first PG was Benjamin Franklin). This act ensured inexpensive delivery of all newspapers and stipulated the right to privacy, and it gave Congress the ability to expand postal services to new areas of the country.
Dorcas Carlough of Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, hand pieced and hand quilted this Pine Tree with Postage Stamp-Sized Triangles around 1880. The historical society that now owns the quilt documented it in 1990 as part of The Heritage Quilt Project of New Jersey. The documenter’s notes about the quilt include: “Stencil designs. Also overlapping circles. Pencil lines still visible. The pine trees have been quilted in a geometric pattern while the background has been quilted in overlapping circles and four-petal “flowers”.