The Legacy of Milly, Part 3

In Part 2, Milly came onto the scene, meeting the children and Gloria.  She accepted the “challenge” – as she called it – of quilting a mural which would become a Peace Quilt.  Gloria started the ball rolling with her own blankie, actually her personal Peace Quilt.

Part 3

As I collected photos for this story, look what I found in my archives:
the original sketch!

When the sketch was finished and children had decided that the quilt would be ‘just so’, they spent time coloring their design.  This solidified their images of Peace and reinforced how they wanted the quilt to look.  It was coming to life.

Milly came to school every week with fabrics.  They were gorgeous!  I asked her if she had purchased them at JoAnne Fabrics.  Her silence was deafening.  I compare this faux pas to asking a lady wearing an original Oscar de la Renta if she got her dress at K-Mart.  Milly was kind, she understood.  Each visit we spread out the sketch on a big table.  Children came to find a favorite part of the sketch and pick what they felt was the perfect fabric for that part.

Lizzie was especially interested in the horse and wanted blue fabric.  I smiled a big smile. Here’s why:

This was Lizzie’s second year in my classroom.  Children often spend two years with me as it is a full day, multiage class.  Lizzie rides horses on her farm.  She adores horses.  More importantly, the year before when we prepared for our annual Art Show, Lizzie was struck with the painting Large Blue Horses by Franz Marc.  She worked at her masterpiece over and over- five times to be exact.  By the time she finished the paint was so thick and heavy I was worried it would fall off the wall at the art show.

Can you now imagine the thrill that Lizzie felt when she picked out ‘just the right blue’ fabric?  I did!  And, I told Milly about the art piece while we watched Lizzie.  Each child had a similar story, or a reason.  Milly was the provider of the feast, and children came to the table to find their favorite foods.  It was that simple.  Milly ‘got it’.

As the quilt progressed each week, Gloria would pop in and check things out.

When Milly finished the quilt she asked me about the writing and lettering, how I wanted to say PEACE.  I hadn’t thought about that, I was so consumed with each part of the quilt.  Milly was way ahead of me, she was looking at the forest while I had been looking at the trees.  I said, “Milly, you decide.”  And she did:

She arrived at my house, held up the finished front of the quilt… and I burst into tears.  I never cry, but my tears came out like a flood when I saw this magnificent work of art.  Did you know that Milly only sews by hand?  She never uses a sewing machine.  That means when she began to quilt this fabric, she did so stitch by stitch.  Many weeks went by as she came to school and let the children watch her sew.  They were mesmerized.  It seemed as though watching each stitch connect their special ideas made the quilt all the more important.

Our next step while Milly quilted was to make a book, a Peace Poetry book.  We took all of the children’s ideas and put them into a rhyme:

A dog and a cat
A heart on a tree
Autumn leaves falling into the sea.
Stars and a rainbow
Triangles of white
Chicks and flowers, peeping and bright
Puppies and kittens
A cow and a moon
A big bright star, a truck that goes vroom
A horse and duckies
A heart that is red
The color of yellow, peaceful thoughts in my head.

When the quilt was finished there was a big ‘todo’ in town.  The newspaper came to do an interview and get photos.  The library wanted to hang the quilt for a while.  This was big!


Does the quilt look familiar to you?  I hope so – it is my blog photo!

When the dust settled I told ‘the world’ of this remarkable quilt, including sending an email to the National Liberty Museum.  I thought they might enjoy knowing all that had transpired since we recreated their Peace Portal.  Their reply was not at all what I expected, and completely changed the course of events.  Frankly, it was a shock.  Just when I thought this was finished, that our quilting adventure was at an end, I was so wrong.  Little did I know what was about to happen was the beginning.  Stay tuned for Part 4.


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, Early Education, Imagination, Inspiration, museums, Peace, quilting, The Arts, wonder and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to The Legacy of Milly, Part 3

  1. Ritu says:

    I am loving reading your recollections of Milky and the Peace quilt Jennie!

  2. beetleypete says:

    How lovely to see Gloria popping in to check out the progress of the quilt.
    I did realise that it was your Gravatar image, and that’s very suitable indeed.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. Opher says:

    I just love that. I love the whole idea of older people passing on their skills and wisdom. It generates two-way respect.
    The outcome was so beautiful. You must be very proud of the way you brought that together. It was your idea and effort.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much, Opher. Connecting generations wasn’t planned but it was certainly a big plus. Watching Milly sew was as important as watching a woodworker or a potter or a musician. Passing down the craft. That really does generate two-way respect. The beauty of the quilt blew me away! It all just came together. Definitely a great moment in my teaching. And, the quilt (and more) has quite a journey ahead!

  4. Dan Antion says:

    This had to be a wonderful experience for the children involved (you too). To have so much interest paid to their thoughts, their ideas, it’s such a cool project.

  5. You bring this to life so well, Jennie. And the story of the blog photo! Great big hug!

  6. Darlene says:

    What a fabulous finished product brought about by many little people’s ideas and Millie’s adept quilting skills. I love that it is your avatar! This story would make a lovely picture book. Just saying…

  7. EsmeSalon says:

    This is so special and awesome and to have put this in a quilt.
    Also again a big thank you for dropping and the ‘like’ of the Senior Salon post on my blog EsmeSalon. I would love to see you participate and share a post from your blog with us. Linkup commences each Monday at 02:00 am and end the Friday at 8:00 pm PDT (Pacific Daylight Time).
    Esmé from EsmeSalon

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Esme. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I would love to share a post on your blog. Just give me a little direction on what you would like me to share. Many thanks!

  8. how beautiful-a memory that with staying power! the poem was really nice too-Jennie, you are inspiration, plain and simple!

  9. Tish Farrell says:

    What a very wonderful project – so much thought and creativity and a shared ‘making and doing’

  10. What a beautiful idea! I love this project! ❤️

  11. Dr. Perry says:

    What a beautiful story. I can’t wait for part 4! The quilt is so beautiful✨

  12. Milly is a saint and so are you for launching this project. Thanks for sharing, Jennie.

  13. robbiecheadle says:

    This is such an amazing story, Jennie. I just love the quilt. I can’t believe that Millie sewed this by hand – what a huge undertaking.

  14. Sarah says:

    A wonderful continuation of Milly´s Legacy, Jennie! I adore the quilt and all the hard work that was put into both on your and the children´s part as well as on hers. And that she used to only sew by hand is so amazing! I once sewed one single shopping bag by hand when I was younger because I didn’t want my mum to find out about it hearing the sewing machine, it was a little gift for her you see. And just that little bag took ages!! 😀

  15. Espirational says:

    Okay you/ve got me hooked. Can hardly wait for Pt. 4. Wonderful story!

  16. The story continues to unfold…

  17. Pingback: The Legacy of Milly, Part 3 | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  18. frenchc1955 says:

    This is simply wonderful!

  19. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    This is another post in this wonderful series by Jennie!

  20. I had to stop in the middle and get my steeping tea and my tissue. Your tears prompted mine. The quilt is even more stunning after hearing this story. There was a lot of synchronicity at work here. I have a hard time seeing anything small but now that you mention it, I can see it is your blog symbol. I can imagine the children’s excitement at the newspaper coverage of their quilt. You tell the story with so much passion that it pops off the page.

    • Jennie says:

      Awww… that’s so nice, Marlene. When that happens to me at school I tell children they are “happy tears” and a good thing. You can understand why I burst into tears when I saw the quilt. The excitement was at a peak! I’m so glad that my passion popped off the page. 😀 Thank you, Marlene!

  21. srbottch says:

    now, you hit me hooked. ‘Stay tunes following our commercial break…’. Can’t wait for the next installment. 👍

  22. Loved reading about Lizzie’s reason for wanting a blue horse 🙂 Wonderful

  23. I think you are my favorite teacher!

  24. Norah says:

    Jennie, although I know what is coming, I am so excited about your story. I love the way you have made it into a chapter book. The quilt is magnificent and your poem is magical. Your work with children is pure joy. What fortunate families they are to make the connection with you.

  25. Pingback: The Legacy of Milly, Part 3 | K. D. Dowdall

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