Monday, July 2, 2018

World War II Pillowcase and Uncle Leonard Weaver

A few weeks backs......while rumbling around in the store room, trying to make some progress and doing a little cleaning and sorting.....I came across this World War II pillowcase from San Antonio and knew immediately that my dad's Uncle Leonard Weaver had probably sent it or brought it home to his parents.


The vintage linen collection from both of the grandma's is vast and frankly pretty stellar for those that like that sort of thing like this writer does.  I had no idea, there was such a piece and had no memory of it at all.  So it was a nice surprise that day and I pretty much knew there was a project coming on for my dad on Father's Day.

Several years ago it worked out for an interview of  my great-uncle Leonard while he was here visiting his Iowa family around Traer......where he grew up.  I did not know him that well because they lived in California and Arizona for his adult life after the war.  But I knew he was a favorite of my Grandma Mildred (his sister).....she always spoke so kindly about him.  He was the youngest boy of their family.  Here is the interview that I transcribed as he spoke.




I interviewed Leonard Weaver at Iowa Star Quilts on October 12, 2004.  He was here in Iowa visiting family. He lives in California.  I am writing this as was told to me and noted when I asked specific questions.    Sheri R. Lesh

I enlisted 2/5/42. I and several others from the area went to Des Moines to sign up.  My parents did know ahead of time that I was going to enlist.   I enlisted so I would have a little more control in what branch of service I would be in. 

 My training included a school in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Spartan School of Aeronautics.  Then to Louisiana to train on maintenance for AT-6 planes.  I then went to another training center down the coast at Victoria, Texas.  

For Cadet training I was sent to San Antonio, Texas, then on to pilot training at Sikeston, Missouri. This is called Primary training.  Dad & Mom Weaver & Mildred came down to see me there.

Then went on to Winfield, Kansas; then on to Pampa, Texas for Basic Flight Training, I graduated from there and received my wings & commission.

On to Ft. Worth, Texas for B-24 Flight Training.
Then to Lincoln, Nebraska and received our crew assembly there.
Then headed to Casper, Wyoming for further training.

I left from New Jersey to take a boat across the ocean to Liverpool.  I didn’t really like being at sea.
I don’t know how to swim and there were enemy subs out there.  We always road in convoys for protection.  You were not suppose to use electric razors because the sonar could pick up the signal from that.  I remember a guy really got in trouble for using his razor.

From Liverpool I went to Casablanca, Africa.  Then on to Bari, Italy.

My squadron finally arrived in Ceriignlo, Italy.

I flew my missions from there. The date would have been August 1944.

My squadron was made up of 12 plane crews. 

I flew 3 days and then off some days, hit and miss.  But it varied, sometimes you would fly several days in a row, before you had a day off.

I flew mostly in Austria, Southern Germany, and Northern Italy.  Our targets were marshalling yards, factories, and fuel storage sites.  I probably killed a bunch of people when we hit those targets.   (Sheri--I did ask him what his thoughts were about that.)  He answered, you were young and you just did it because you had to.  You developed a kind of confidence in what you were doing, after going up many times.

I was first injured December 12, 1944.  The navigator took us down in over Zabreg, Yugoslavia. We were in heavy flack.  I was hit in the knee.  It felt like someone hit my knee with a baseball bat. I had the co-pilot fly the plane back, but I came back up in the cockpit and helped land it.  The plane was not particularly damaged. The shots had just shot through the skin of the plane and hit me.

I was injured the second time, April 25, 1945 over Linz, Austria. There was heavy flack. The sky was black from them.  We were hitting marshalling yards.  I was hit in my left arm and damaged a nerve.  It was a permanent injury.  The plane again was OK. 

When we got passes we would go to Naples or Rome.

One time when we were in Rome, the sidewalks were very wide & we were walking side by side, one of the paratroopers came by and hit me in the face.  I had a black eye for quite awhile.  I would not fly for awhile because of that.  There was a rivalry between the Air Force & the Paratroopers. 

Another time we went to Capri I went with another squadron because I was still healing up from my knee injury.  We didn’t enjoy it so much because it was cold while we were there.   The Italians took us out on a boat trip, fishing.  They would fish with bombs, put an explosive in a can and throw it out in the water and then the fish would surface, belly up.

(Sheri--I asked him if he ever was scared.)   My co-pilot would freeze.  The radio operator would lay down on the floor of the plane with flak suites laid under him to protect to himself.  His oxygen came unhooked one time and the co-pilot saw it and connected it back up; that saved his life.  He was turning blue, so if he had not done that, he would have died.

We used oxygen at 12,000 feet.  We normally flew at 22,500 feet.

We would usually fly about 6 hour missions, approximately. When we went to Vienna, that was hard, flack was bad there.   A very heavy concentration of anti-aircraft.

I lost my next door neighbor (tent besides mine).  They had gone to do a milk run that day.   One of the planes went in the tail of another plane and many were lost that day including several buddies. One of the guys that survived parachuted out through the nose wheel opening.

I had two good friends from northwest Iowa, went through most of my training with them.  Their name was Schindler.  They were brothers and at that time, they kept them together.  They were on the same mission.  One was flying “Lead.”  The other one flying “Able.”  The one brother flying “Lead” was hit and went down.  While the other brother watched and he just went to pieces and was hit also.  (Lead, Able, Baker, etc.  Leonard told me this is what they called the planes in formation, following the alphabet.)

We always had food, although you sometimes got tired of the rations. When fresh eggs came in they were very popular.

I always flew the same model of plane, but not always the same plane, some were better than others.
You didn’t want to get an old plane with lots of hours.

I never encountered fighter planes though. The Germans would pick up planes that had been shot down, scavenge parts from all different ones and put together another one that they would take up and be a scout.  Looking for where we were running out routes and what altitude we were at and then radio the information down to the ground.  That would give them very accurate statistics on where to fire their anti-aircraft at us. (heavy flack.)

I met my wife Chris in Denver, Colorado, Fitzsimmons General Hospital.  I ended up there after being in several other hospitals from the wound to my arm. They actually sent me to the wrong hospital, amputees were sent to Colorado, but they moved me to another area in the hospital.  I retired from service there. The war was over at this point.  I met Chris on a blind date.  This was in 1947.

I didn’t think about the danger much we just did it but the artillery guys would say they didn’t want to do what we were doing.  They wanted to stay on the ground.  I still think it is hard to think about.  It makes me emotional.

I haven’t seen the WWII memorial.  Maybe I will if I have the opportunity.

My navigator is living and an attorney; Sr. Advisor to the Attorney’s Office in New York City.

My co-pilot is in South Dakota.  I still keep in touch with them.


 This picture was taken when he was back here in Iowa on leave c.1943


B-24 Liberator


Now back to the pillowcase from San Antonio.....you might notice in his story, that was near the beginning of his training, so I am thinking in c.1942.


Father's Day 2018.....a gift to my dad!



This was how it ended up.  My dad loved it!  He never remembered seeing it either.






Of course there needed to be a label as this piece has a story to tell.

He received many awards and metals including a purple heart for his service.  This article tells of his marriage to Chris and his service record from the Traer Star Clipper.  A farm boy from Traer, Iowa to a WWII B-24 bomber pilot in the European theater.....pretty amazing!


Sadly he passed away on January 16, 2008 and as far as I know he never got to see the World War II Memorial in Washington DC.  He did not talk about his experience in the war and when I gave my Grandma Mildred a copy of this interview, she really knew none of the information that he had told me.





Thursday, June 7, 2018

Marilyn's Dear Jane

I was asked last fall by a quilt friend from our Keepsake Quilter's Guild if I would quilt her Dear Jane.......gulp!  I would be honored to.....humbled by and pretty much terrified to work on someone else's Jane!!!

The only thing that gave me courage was I had done my own, was pleased with how it turned out and it hadn't done me in!!!!

So several weeks back it arrived and was loaded in the frame.



And away we went......I stitched all the blocks in the ditch including the sashing strips and Marilyn is going to go back and hand quilt each block.  And frankly at that point my work goes away and all you see is the hand quilting.  That is fine with me and is exactly how I finished mine. 

 I was extremely pleased with how mine turned out.  And the thought of hand quilting all that ditch work.....just kill me!  It would have been a project killer for me and Marilyn felt the same way.



I included a video of using the ruler and stitching in the ditch.




All finished and ready to be picked up!!!!  She was giddy and I got lots of hugs on this finish!  Made my week!  Thanks Marilyn!




Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Moms

One of my facebook friends just commented on how few pictures she had with her mother, which made me take stock of my own inventory in that regard.  I do have some, but there are a few I wish I had that do not exist. 


It was a less than ideal day outside.....so we took my folks out for lunch and my mom shopping for mother's day, which prompted a conversation about how we used to shop with Grandma Thedens. I so wished I had a picture of the three of us shopping back in the day!  Mom & I went with her multiple times a year, not every month, but probably close to every other month.  Sometimes we went to Waterloo/Cedar Falls and other times we headed to Cedar Rapids.....we were partial to Armstrong's downtown and to Westdale when that was built.  And to think that doesn't exist anymore.  We also went to Lindale too......sometimes we would do all three in a day.  Grandma T. was getting right up there in years, but you would never know it on shopping days, she could go for hours.  Neither mom or I have her endurance.  Grandma T. always bought us lunch, so you always wanted to go with her.  I remember running into her a time or two at Crossroads, I always got treated for lunch......mostly at Bishops Buffet.  She liked that place.


Stephanie will enjoy this one from the archives.....summer 2002, she is holding Emma and we are 5 generations of women strong.


Stephanie & Emma Carlson, Grandma Ruth Thedens, Sheri Kullmer Lesh, Gretchen Thedens Kullmer (standing)


This is 2005.....not sure the occasion, but I am guessing toward the end of summer by the way the girls are dressed.....this is part II of "the seven."  Sam was born to Sara in February, Ellie was born to Stacey in April, Matt was born to Stephanie in May and Evie was born to Sally in June.  


Oh and by the way........these 4 are turning 14......
shut the front door!!!!


Matt & Stephanie Carlson, Sam & Sara Klein, Ellie & Stacey Borrenpohl, Evie & Sally Carruthers



Another fun all girl picture so I could use it for mother's day, the only thing that would make this picture any better, would be to include Stacey and her two girls and Sally and her three girls.  This was mom's birthday party last December.

Back:  Cora & Sara Klein, Gretchen Kullmer, Stephanie Carlson, Sheri Lesh
Front:  Kate Anne & Emma Carlson

I told the girls, they would see this for Mother's Day.....Aunt Joan would have loved this and being with ALL of US.....but for her, she is free from a broken, worn out body and although we were sad for us, we were celebrating for her.  Absent from the body, present with the Lord......wonderful promise.  At least we were all together last summer, for what was to be our last time with her.  I think that was a great comfort to us, that we had such a wonderful weekend together and there were no regrets, just awesome memories.....just as she would have wanted for us!

Indiana 2018


Sara, Sally, Sheri, Stephanie, & Stacey Lesh.......they use to be the Lesh girls, but they still are to me!

So I told mom I was taking the picture of us shopping today, because it is one of the ones I wished I had with Miss Shopper Extraordinaire....Grandma T. and us trying to keep up with her.  I love you Mom!




Monday, April 9, 2018

Visiting Bonnie Hunter in Des Moines

I had such a treat two weeks ago....which in reality feels like a lifetime.....with our much loved sister of my Silver Fox dying last week.......more of that coming later.

I really hadn't planned on seeing Bonnie when she came to Des Moines......the DM guild, I heard them say had waited 5 years on their/her calendar to schedule her coming.  To say Miss Bonnie is very popular would be a gross understatement. 

To be honest I have no idea when I started following her, but it has been quite awhile, probably 10+ years.....she is known for her scrap quilts recycling fabric, like men's shirts for example.  She also loves string piecing, sewing on vintage sewing machines, using leaders and enders to work on a secondary project....and if that is not enough came up with a very usable scrap saving system.  All of these things can be found at quiltville

Low and behold.....here she was lecturing twice on Jeff's day off that week.....so it was a possibility that we could go.  The Silver Fox fired up for a day trip and we even managed to find him a new pair of shoes for work.  So what a special treat to get to hear her again.  I have heard her before, in Tucson, 3 years ago.  She happened to be in AZ while we were in Phoenix.....but I really never dreamed I would get to hear her again.


She is an absolute delight.  I love her scrap saver system.....I was doing some of it, but she had taken it farther and thought through the math more than I did.....so it is much more usable and workable.  I use it all the time.


See that crazy pineapple quilt hanging behind her......I think I need to make one of them.....another one with tiny pieces.....what can I say.....the smaller the pieces the better I like 'em!


Then for an added bonus while there, I ran into two quilt friends from back home, Mary & Nancy!  What a hoot!  And I was able to see my friend Carolyn who lives in West Des Moines too.  We sat together and caught up a bit.

Bonnie had such nice things to say about the DM Guild.....they are a very active bunch.  They ended up with 2 openings, one in each workshop.  My younger self would have been all over one of them.😏 

You can check out her blog posting about Des Moines here.


I made my grandson Gabe's HS graduation quilt from one of her patterns called Easy Street.


I loved working on this quilt....but it is a biggie......I think close to "100 x 100."




Close-up of the quilting and some of the fabrics.  I wouldn't know how many different fabrics are in it, but a bunch. The more the better, I say!
 Can you see one that looks like penmanship class and writing on lined paper?  Remember doing that?  I do.



I generate most of my quilt labels on my computer and print them on treated fabric.....then you can add photos to them and say whatever you want.  I like the ability to plan it out on the computer screen.

This quilt came from the book More Adventures with Leaders and Enders.

Front Cover

For those who are not familiar with leaders and enders......when I am typically working on piecing a quilt, I try and chain as many similar units together as I can.  Meaning, I do not lift my presser foot between each unit and continue to feed one unit after another under my presser foot with small chains of stitches between each unit.  Years ago someone came up with the idea of using a "waste square" or I have also heard it referred to as a "spider nest", but a piece of fabric you had under your presser foot when you began stitching, then you fed your first unit after that.  At the end of your stitching you would go back to that beginning scrap or spider's next and clip it off and add it to the end of your stitching and it was ready the next time.

The thought was you were not wasting so much thread pulling out each unit and clipping your threads and you saved time too.

Somewhere along the line and I heard it from Bonnie first, she talked about leaders and enders, where you were piecing a secondary quilt/project or piecing units as your "waste" beginning and ending.  Except these were not waste pieces, you were actually working on your next project or whatever while you were doing your primary quilt top.  BRILLIANT, I say!  I have been doing this ever since.

The next piece I did in what I would call the Bonnie Hunter style was using the hour glass block (it was a part of a leader ender challenge, she does a new one each year)......also lots of string piecing something else that Bonnie and I both never tire of.  I bought several pieces of fabric for this in AZ that winter before I made this.  This is my own pattern and it was made for our granddaughter, Lizzie's HS graduation.  She wanted red and gold, the colors of ISU, but not Iowa State fabric, which made for a very happy and fun quilt.




I machine quilted it in red thread.









Saturday, February 17, 2018

Stars Upon Stars Finish

It was a big day on the farm on Monday.....oh you didn't notice?

A little squealing with delight was happening about 4 PM and a small photo shoot with the light dimming in the winter sky.

There was a party of one happening....as I sewed the last stitches on this beast.


This has been going on in the background of my life for the last 18+ months and it was a butt-kicker!!!


But it is a stunner.....not going to lie!  With every block I added to the mother-quilt.....it has been a love affair with the fabrics, the design and the colors!  Trust me the pics don't do it justice!


The block above is probably my least favorite.....but every block has a role to play....it is amazing to see how fabric placement makes every block have a look of it's own.  One block is 12" and is 250 pieces.....now just wrap your mind around that fun factoid!


Here we are in all our glory.....now to figure out how to quilt this!  I will be machine quilting it......it is solid seam allowances on the back and very heavy for no bigger than it is.





I made a 2 part video on Monday as I was finishing it.  The quality is not that great and I should have put the camera above me and showed my and hands and workspace instead of me! Lesson learned! 





Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day 2018

I always have enjoyed this sweet little holiday in February......after the Christmas decorations come down.....the house always looks a little sad and all those red and pink hearts just fit the bill and brighten things up until spring starts to appear.


A box full of hearts from a lot of special people over the years.....be still my beating heart!

A wonderful hybrid valentine book (one of Heidi Swapp's)  full of vintage images and family photos.


This such a cute picture from 2012.......it's on the refrigerator at the moment too.  Some of the grands several years ago with big  lips.....that are whistles!  Too fun!


In honor of our 45th anniversary......a few memories and a memento or two of that time!
The bride and groom dolls were from my Great-grandma Rose Weaver......she always had this set with the bridesmaids too.  I put out the bridesmaids at Easter because they are all dressed in pastels.  The candle, blue ceramic bucket, the bell, sugar flowers off our cake.......all from our wedding day.  The two hearts in counted cross stitch was from our friend Jan on our 10th anniversary.  It was so cool to take Lizzie's photo shoot of us and make them into a book.  The quilt on the wall was a gift from my Sadie Quilt Group, back in the day for my birthday.  I LOVE that quilt. 





I am just getting over being sick and watched more videos and tv for hours.....so much so I was sick of that too.  But one of the fun videos I caught was from Missouri Star Quilt Company and this cute, fast heart piece and I had just the fabric to do it with. Missouri Star Heart Quilts


The cool thing about this piece....the background is all done from the same charm pack, I just turned them over and have the wrong side face up......they become this wonderful muted background that fits so well with the front.  Clever!

The right side of the fabric becomes the wrong side!



The finished top....that won't get quilted by tomorrow, but there is always next year and it's always fun to crank out a finish in a short period of time!


Happy Valentine's Day and show love to your friends and family!




Thursday, February 8, 2018

Pioneer Woman and our 45th Wedding Anniversary

The Silver Fox and I love to go on road trips.....it doesn't happen near enough.....we took a few days in January to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary.  We spent a day in Pawhuska, OK and the stomping grounds of Ladd and Ree Drummond.


The landscape was beautiful and was very rolling with lots of cattle, cowboys in pickup trucks pulling their horse trailers, and small ponds for watering holes were in abundance.

I had no idea what to expect, but since we were there on a cold Monday in January it was fine, we were able to visit and eat without waiting.....wonderful!




The dining area is L-shaped.....it goes to the right and around the corner in the picture with the kitchen and barista coffee bar straight ahead.

If you came on a busy day and I am assuming once the weather changes it will return to that, you would be standing outside where the windows and the line heads down the street for hours we understand.



Oh the dishes.....some of these were china and some are plastic.....can you tell which are which?


I loved the idea of this fabric map of all the states.  Might have to do something with that idea......


This is the bakery area on the second floor....we didn't happen to buy any pastries, but everything looked wonderful....lots of subway tile you can see.



Where else would you take a picture in the ladies bathroom.....it was beautiful!

Walking down the staircase and looking toward the backside of "The Merc."  Just beautiful!  


Looking toward the front of the store and the beautiful entryway.....with the restaurant just at the right.


The coffee bar and where the barista stood waiting to take your order.  It was pretty quiet the day we were there.


This is from our table looking back into the kitchen.


We shopped before we had our lunch and we shopped after we had our lunch.....oh darn!  There were items at every price point, if you only wanted to spend a little you could easily do that.....it just might be hard to narrow down your decision.  I thought the variety of things they had in the store was just wonderful.....we both had a good time looking at everything.


Love this wall....in the dining area, right by where we sat!  Chippy, peely paint.....just my style.


What wonderful food and everything we saw that came from that kitchen looked amazing!  Jeff had lasagna and said it was the best he had ever had.  He had one bite, it was stellar!



Entering "The Merc"


Our lunch menu.....a delightful menu of choices and the prices were very reasonable.


We shared a creme brulee for dessert!  What a decadent and delightful treat!


My lunch choice was brisket with mashed potatoes, tasty.....I never met a potato I didn't love!  Yum!


We had a delightful day here and enjoyed it all!  We were not able to visit the ranch that day, but would be something to consider planning on, if your visit was timed right.  We would certainly recommend a visit if you are in the area.