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Quilts Provide More Than Warmth

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September 19, 2010 by wcobserver

neal Prater, from left, Mary Talbert, Irene Cantrell, Bernica Quentin, Eula Coker, and Joanne Dolan.

By Terry Ropp

The last Tuesday morning before school started, I stopped at the Strickler Fire Department to see the quilters who volunteer their time and work to help support the fire department. Rosalee Stroud’s sister, who lived in Oklahoma, started the whole idea by making a quilt for a raffle the first year of fund-raising. Most years since then, the women have made a quilt to raffle. At first they quilted in each other’s homes, but once the stationhouse was built, they began quilting there. Proceeds continue to help furnish and maintain the stationhouse.

The group quilts for others as well. About 150 quilts have been completed to date with an average completion time of about three months depending on the size of the quilt. All of the materials are supplied by clients with the women doing the quilting. Prices for quilting range from $100 to $150 depending upon the size. The women were particularly excited about the current project because LaVerne Sargent had done the topper in a pattern called Grandma’s Flower Garden all by hand and everyone agreed that the work was really nice.

The present-day group consists of Eula Coker, Joanne Dolan, Mary Talbert, Verneal Prater, Irene Cantrell, and Bernice Quentin. They range from seventy to eighty-six years young. While we were talking, their fingers were flying in small and precise movements that wedded the beautiful topper to the filling and bottom in an intricate pattern. Some of the women learned from their mothers. Eula said, “I have loved doing this since I was a kid.” Joanne explained she had taken a class when she was young at West Campus in Fayetteville but really learned the most from the other ladies who taught her all kinds of tricks while Mary Talbert taught herself. Bernice and Verneal were taught by the others when they joined the group. I was quickly asked to join, but unfortunately I am still working, so my Tuesday mornings are filled.

Larry was with me, and being a man who likes his noise asked, “How come you don’t listen to music?” Irene was quick to reply, “We provide our own jaw music and sometimes just share a comfortable silence.” Joanne added, “This reduces you blood pressure, you know.”

While we were visiting, Irene made what I thought to be an important comment. She said, “Our men do more public service than fighting fires. The other day, the road had nails all over it so the guys cleaned them up to protect people from accidents. They also help the elderly blow debris away from their homes.” People generally don’t realize how integral the department is to our community. These women, on the other hand, do and work with the annual spring breakfast and fall dinner fund raisers as an on-going part of their support for the Strickler Fire Department. You can count on me reminding you of the annual events so can come and eat great food and mix with other wonderful Arkansans. You might even win a quilt.

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