Milly turned 88 today. She has been a beloved friend to children in my classroom for years. Her story is emergent curriculum on steroids, because everything she touched became a monument. Really.
It happened like this…
Many years ago my husband and I went to a wedding in Philadelphia. With a little time to spare before the big event, we went to the historic district and Carpenter’s Hall. Then, directly across the street was a small museum, the National Liberty Museum. Their foyer holds a magnificent Peace Portal. Thunderstruck would be an understatement as I stood beneath it in awe.
I got permission from the museum to recreate the portal in my classroom. A few months later my husband and I went to the Bennington Museum in Vermont to see their Grandma Moses collection. Walking in the front door there was a stunning collection of Haitian quilts that looked like murals. They were works of art. I was stunned. My class had written a Peace Poetry Book inspired by sitting under the Peace Portal we had recreated, and I knew they needed more– designing a quilt mural like the Haitian quilts would be perfect. I could feel it. The only problem would be finding a quilter.
Milly not only fit the bill, she was a natural with children. I was connecting generations in my classroom. She played, and she quilted. Children were fascinated watching her sew. Together we designed and made a Peace Quilt. I was thrilled. So were the children, and so was Milly. When I told the National Liberty Museum director about the quilt, as it had started with their Peace Portal, they asked for the quilt. It is now part of their permanent collection. The trip to Philadelphia with children and families to deliver the quilt was fun!
The following year children were particularly interested in singing “God Bless America.” After singing for members of our military and making books, we made another quilt with Milly.
That quilt hangs in the Massachusetts Fisher House for families of wounded soldiers and sailors. The children were invited to sing “God Bless America” for the founding Fisher family members and present the quilt. What an honor!
As the years rolled on, Milly continued to visit and play with children. Gloria became her best friend. They would often sing together to the children. We designed a quilt about our towns which hangs at school. Then, Peace once again emerged with great interest to the children- another quilt was in the making after writing a lump-in-your-throat Peace book.
This quilt hangs at the Massachusetts State House in Boston. The governor himself got on his knees to thank Milly. Not a dry eye in the house. Yes, everything Milly touches becomes a monument.
Happy Birthday, Milly!