Amish Children Garden Banner – Canvas Duck Fabric

A while back, I made my first garden banner featuring a harness horse.  So far, it has held up well through a very hot, sunny summer and a few torrential rains.  I wanted to make another banner for “back to school” and chose a favorite design by Helan Barrick from my decorative painting days.  I call this a banner rather than a flag because it is quite stiff and becomes even more so when exposed to the weather.

I used canvas duck fabric (not outdoor canvas which is treated) which was sewn to make a double thickness 12×18 inch banner with sleeve and primed it with two coats of Gesso front and back.  Then I drew the design on the front and painted it with acrylics.

For the back, which I can see clearly from my front window, I painted a design of an Amish-style quilt block.

Both sides were finished with two coats of Minwax Clear Satin Polycrylic to make it weather-proof.

I like seeing the banner in my front yard – my dog Rusty is looking out the door, probably admiring the quilt block on the back!

Valentine’s Day in my February Kitchen

With the dreary weather we often get in February in southwestern Ohio, I’m happy to put up the cheery Valentine decorations that I’ve accumulated through the years.  The little red and white enamelware plate was from a set I had as a child over 70 years ago.

Most of the items were handmade by members of the family:  decorative painting on wooden pieces….

….some are quilted, appliquéd, crocheted.

Two pieces call to mind Valentine’s Day in the 1940s and my grade school parties.

The story of our Valentine’s Day celebrations at old Raschig School in the 1940s and a Valentine wall hanging are here

School Days–Cincinnati–1930s-40s


The day after Labor Day in 1938, I began my education by entering old Raschig School in downtown Cincinnati.  I’m sure Mother must have pointed out the school to me many times before I started the first grade there.  It was just across Central Parkway from our first floor two-room apartment on Elm Street.  If we were standing on the street or even sitting on the front stoop, we would have been able to see the big red brick building and the heavy iron fence that surrounded it.

I remember the dress I wore on my first day of school because a picture had been taken the day before at the County Fair in Dayton, Ohio.  My grandma had bought it for me – a yellow silk dress with brown velvet ribbons and a full circle accordion pleated skirt.  This was before World War II when silk was the fabric of choice for special occasions.


I can remember Mother walking with me to my first day at Raschig and then suddenly being gone.  I don’t recall being particularly happy or unhappy – I was just there.  Because I hadn’t been to kindergarten, they put me in a class with kids who needed to be evaluated.  The teacher was a middle-aged lady and not particularly friendly  Soon after I arrived,  I noticed kids were passing around food for our mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks.  One bowl held the most gorgeous purple plums.  I don’t believe I had ever seen plums before.  I asked the teacher if I could pass the plums and she was very brusque and said the children were chosen ahead of time and to go sit down.

Luckily, I left her class within a couple of weeks and had Mrs. Clark and a young student teacher who were wonderful.  I remember struggling with reading – it didn’t seem to make sense and then one day it all came together and I never had any problems after that.  I also struggled a little to make the cursive letters that spelled out Lillian.  We never did learn to print but went into handwriting immediately.

I looked forward to the stories the teacher read to us – “Lazy Liza Lizard”, “The Three Bears”, and particularly “Little Black Sambo” because I loved the description of the butter and the pancakes.

Ours was an inner city school but during the housing shortage of those war years there were many middle-class people living in the area with children going to Raschig.  Kids like Rollo, a black boy who always wore stylish knickers and argyle knee socks and appeared to come from a well-to-do family as well as a girl named Mary Jane and another girl named Patty Lou (double names were big in the 1930s).  Our family was about middle-ground economically – there were kids much poorer – Dorothy, Mary Lou, and poor Otto, a raggedy boy whose shoe soles flapped as he walked.


This was a Valentine I designed one year to show Rollo, Otto and myself in our classroom


Those Raschig years were good for me – I did well in school, the teachers seemed pleased with my work, I thought most of the kids liked me, nobody bothered me except for teasing occasionally about my long finger curls and I never took that seriously.  When I was 9 years old, I jotted down a poem about school starting again at old Raschig.   I never did outgrow my love of school.

Poem by Lillian (9 years old) – August, 1942

I love to go to school
And see the teachers dear
There to teach us children
All through the year.

I love to go to school
To learn to write and read
And there to learn to be
Very good indeed.

I love to go school
Because it’s so much fun
For when I have gym
I sometimes get to run.

I love to go to school
Way up into June
For you see I am so anxious
School will be starting soon.

In autumn when the leaves are falling
We hear the children’s voices calling
I think how glad they must be
To go to school the same as me.

Last-Day-of-School Dresses

When I was going to school in the 1930s and 40s, the last day of school was in mid-June.  I always associate the day in Cincinnati with very hot weather, tiger lilies blooming, and my mother making me a “last-day-of-school dress”.   In the first grade (above), the dress was yellow silk with accordion pleated skirt and brown bows.  It was a beautiful dress and all the little girls in my class gathered around me to touch and admire the silky smoothness – before World War II when silk was a common commodity in dress-up clothes.

In 1942, Mother made a more grown-up dress of a beautiful light blue fabric.  She often made a dress of the same fabric for my little sister and we’re shown here with my cousin, Dixie, just after her First Communion.

 

In the sixth grade, my sister and I had dresses of a lovely blue voile.  We had just moved from downtown Cincinnati to the East End area where there were small well-kept houses with Victory Gardens.

I graduated from the 8th grade in 1945 and Mother made a beautiful white outfit with a flared skirt and eyelet top.  It was the fashion in our school that year to wear white socks with white sandals.

 

In 1946, I was finishing up my freshman year at Withrow High School, a prestigious school at that time where my classmates were way higher economically than I was.  As you can see, I was very unhappy with my dress that year.  This was very unusual for me – I normally wore anything Mother lay out for me with no complaints, but this dress was of a matronly rayon-type fabric and all the girls in my upscale school were wearing sleeveless pastel shirtwaist dresses to class.  I knew I was going to look completely out of style in my grandma-goes-to-church dress.  In spite of my scowl, I wore the dress to pick up my report card and found that the stylish girls were all in shorts and casual clothes, ready to take off for swimming pools and tennis courts, and paid no attention to me at all.

 

Mother always talked about her favorite last-day-of-school dress which she described as being so beautiful.  After she passed away, I found this picture of her and understood better why she made me such a matronly, out-of-style dress.  It looked a lot like her favorite.

I felt bad that I had disappointed Mother by not liking the dress, but apparently I made an impression  because she never made another one like that for me.  For my senior class day at Withrow, she made my sister and me these beautiful light blue dotted Swiss dresses which we both loved.

I don’t believe the tradition of last-day-of-school dresses was active in my era (except for my mother) and it certainly wasn’t alive for my daughters or now for my granddaughters and great-granddaughter.  Pity.

Valentine’s Day in the 1940s

vboxart.gif

In the 1930s-40s, I lived in downtown Cincinnati and attended old Raschig School on Central Parkway.  In those days, Valentine’s Day was a major holiday in school.  A week ahead of time, the teacher brought in a big cardboard box which we decorated with cutout hearts and bits of paper lace doilies.  A slot was cut in the top and we were encouraged to bring a Valentine for each person in class and put it in the box, waiting for the big day.  The Valentines were “penny Valentines” and probably cost less than a penny apiece in those depression-World War II days.

Then on February 14, it was time to get the Valentines out of the box and distributed to the class.  A boy was chosen to be mailman (never a girl!), outfitted with a paper hat and mailbag.

In 1993, I wanted to make a Valentine for family members and did a sketch of the scene, incorporating my memories of two boys in my class.  Rollo was the only black boy in the class, always well dressed in knickers and argyle socks.  Otto was from the poorest part of the school district and seemed always to be a little grungy with a sole-flapping shoe.  I was a proper little girl with waist length finger curls and a dress made by my mother.  In 1993, I didn’t have a color printer and printed the cards in black and white, then hand watercolored each one.

vboxart.jpg

Imagine my surprise when about 10 years later, my oldest daughtergave me a Valentine gift of my sketch in redwork.  I had just started quilting at that time and put together a wall hanging with the redwork as the centerpiece.

hanging.jpg

redwork.jpg

The dress on the card was actually a black and white check which my mother later made into a doll dress.  I took a picture of the fabric and printed it in a nine-patch to use as two of the blocks…..

check.jpg

I also printed fabric blocks with vintage pictures of myself and old Raschig School to add to the history.  I wish I had pictures of Rollo and Otto, but they didn’t take class pictures at our school in those days.

pixpanel.jpg

When I see my grandchildren laboriously writing their names on their little Valentines to take to school and pre-school, I remember musty old Raschig and all the fun of Valentine’s Day.