Thanking Milly, Connecting Generations, and Quilting

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!

And, that quilt is my WordPress blog photo!

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!

About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in art, Giving thanks, Imagination, Inspiration, museums, Peace, quilting, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to Thanking Milly, Connecting Generations, and Quilting

  1. Mukhamani says:

    A loving and great lady. Thank you for the beautiful photos of the quilts. The children and everyone involved will have so many precious memories. Regards

  2. The quilts and tribute to Milly are wonderful. Happy Birthday Milly!

  3. Sue Vincent says:

    What a wonderful story, Jennie.

  4. This is such a heart-warming story, Jennie. I think you are a living monument for educators.

  5. Oh wow! Happy birthday Milly! What an inspiring post, Jennie. I enjoyed this post so very much. What a build up in telling the story. One of your best, Jennie. Hugs.

  6. delphini510 says:

    Jennie, I am so taken with this wonderful story, so life affirming. How great that you met Millie
    and with her guidance and love you all created these beautiful quilts.
    I can also see what an effect this has had on the children as so many motifs were about peace.
    Happy Birthday to Millie and I am sure she is a happy lady being so engaged with people and
    continuing her creativity.
    Miriam

  7. Darlene says:

    Wonderful to bring the generations together. Millie sounds wonderful. I wish her a Happy Birthday!

  8. beetleypete says:

    Such a great story, tear-jerking indeed.
    Please convey my sincere birthday wishes to Millie, from England.
    She is now internationally famous!
    Best wishes to you, and to Millie. Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      That is so nice, Pete. I’m glad you enjoyed the story. I will pass on your message to Milly. She will be thrilled. Best to you.

  9. GP Cox says:

    I know I’d be tearing-up! A wonderful woman and you have created a great tribute to her here.

  10. I think all of your posts make me happy-cry. 🙂 What neat stories; happy birthday to a loving and generous woman.

  11. Dan Antion says:

    Nice story and s very nice lady. I enjoyed learning about the quilt. It’s wonderful that she’s so willing and capable to help with your class.

    • Jennie says:

      She is funny and witty, Dan. Milly and Cheryl would hit it off. All of her quilting is by hand, so it was thrilling for children to watch her at work. Yes, quite a story about all the quilts. The Boston Fisher House (Google Samuel Fisher and you’ll be blown away, Mr. History buff- starting with the USS Intrepid) is in West Roxbury. Beautiful area, maybe some doors the next time you’re in Boston.

  12. Bless her very sweet heart and wish her a happy 88th for me and many more to come. She is a quilter extraordinaire.

  13. Ritu says:

    This is just so inspirational! Milly is indeed an institution in herself!

  14. Milly is a wonderful quilter, Jennie. My dad makes quilts and it is not easy. You are fabulous to do all these amazing things.

  15. ren says:

    Happy Birthday Millie!
    Thank you Jennie for this wonderful sharing…..

  16. Holy Moly. Millie and your classroom are making history! I love it that the quilts are ending up in public places for so many people to see and appreciate. Happy Birthday to Millie, what a shining star she is. Thanks for the inspiring and uplifting post, Jennie. ❤

    • Jennie says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Diana. Holy Moly, indeed! Who knew that each quilt would have a fascinating journey with a perfect ending. A bit like a fairy tale. Milly is a gem!

  17. I stand in awe of this woman –

  18. Tina Frisco says:

    Wow! You, Milly, and the kids are living history, Jennie! You’ve touched so many, so deeply, and will live in their hearts forever. What a beautiful legacy ❤️

  19. Sending belated Happy Birthday wishes to Millie! I used to go into Boston all the time when my son lived in Cambridge, but now we haven’t been in for quite a while. When next I do, I hope to see your quilt hanging in the state house!

  20. dgkaye says:

    What a wonderful story about Millie. 🙂

  21. susanwileyauthorillustratoryoungchildren says:

    What a great tribute to Millie and all the kids. Happy Birthday Millie! Quilting is such a peaceful activity and can be geared toward just about any topic. I had the fun of leading a class of third graders in making a quilt while they were studying the history of Americana and folk crafts. They donated it to one of the special needs classmates that was leaving school early that year for heart surgery.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Susan. Milly is a gem! Quilting and connecting generations go together like bees and honey. What a wonderful quilting story of your third grade class!

  22. Sarah says:

    A wonderful lady, your Milly! And the quilt is beautiful! Belated Happy Birthday to her!

  23. Sartenada says:

    How beautiful quilt, In Finland we love them and they are very popular.

  24. lbeth1950 says:

    How wonderful for Millie, the children, and you.

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