Friday, June 8th: Today celebrates a special treasure. It’s BEST FRIEND DAY, a day to enjoy and appreciate your best friend … all of them! An anonymous poem is circulating that begins: “People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.”

Our life is filled with a variety of best friends. Some come and go for different reasons and seasons, and some are for a lifetime. Cherish and treasure them all. As John Leonard says, “It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”

Celebrate life; celebrate your best friends. Take time out of your day to spend some time with one or more of them. Give one a call. Jot a short note, telling them how special they are to you. Take a few minutes and send them a quick ‘You’re special to me’ email.

Following are a few true thoughts about ‘BFF’s.

Things are never quite as scary when you have a best friend. ~Bill Watterson

Friendship isn’t a big thing – it’s a million little things. ~Author Unknown

The best kind of friend is the one you could sit on a porch with, never saying a word, and walk away feeling like that was the best conversation you’ve had. ~Author Unknown

Friends are kisses blown to us by angels. ~Author Unknown

Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same. ~Flavia Weedn, Forever, ©

A good friend is a connection to life – a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world. ~Lois Wyse

Friends are relatives you make for yourself. ~Eustache Deschamps

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart. ~Elisabeth Foley

Friends are like walls. Sometimes you lean on them, and sometimes it’s good just knowing they are there. ~Author Unknown

The language of friendship is not words but meanings. ~Henry David Thoreau

(Thanks to for compiling a rich resource of quotes!!!)

1934 Athelstan Quilt Squares Story: Post 2

About two years after moving to Texas, I was going through things in the closet one day. You know how things tend to accumulate when your back is turned and pretty soon you have little piles all over?  Oh, not yours? Well, at least in my closet that happens. I think it’s like the little dust bunnies that procreate while you’re busy with life.  You turn around and … pouf … there they are!

I was busy that day, probably in June or July 2010. I hauled things out of the closet, going through clothes, filling a bag for the thrift store, throwing things in the trash, trying to sort out presents bought ahead of time from toiletries and lotions and rummaging through some boxes I’d brought toTexas but hadn’t gone through recently.

I opened one box and started sorting, all the little miscellaneous things that tend to gather without much thought. I pulled out a yellow legal sheet, folded in quarters, with names and notes written on it.  Oh!  The list of names from the quilt squares, that I’d written in California.  I hadn’t been successful before.  But, who knows, maybe now?

Sitting down at the computer that evening, I started searching for names, not really expecting to find anything again. I ran down the list, adding two or three at a time.  A web site popped in the search results that appeared to have several names!

The 1925 census ofAthelstan, Iowa appeared. Scrolling through this list I found six names that matched squares in my set.  Woohoo! I was doing the happy dance. I’d discovered a link. I felt that if six of 30 names were in one place, this had to be the common link.

Actually six of 27, not 30, names matched. Three of the squares were completed with solid colors of red, black, and blue, typically associated with Amish dolls and quilts. They also did not have any names added, typical also of Amish beliefs to not make graven images of themselves.  Although there weren’t names on these three squares, there are also many Amish in Iowa, which gave weight to the Athelstan, Iowa connection.

In less than an hour I’d discovered an Athelstan connection for seven names. 

The 1925 Athelstan Iowa census listed:

Darlene Booher, 1 year old

Leona Booher, 2 years old

Georgia Older, 39 years old

Delilah Rusco, 2 years old

Berneice Scott, 1 year old

Ah ha! Add nine years to get to 1934 and these girls would be 10-11 years old. (Possibly in the 9-12 year old range, depending on when the census was taken and when their birthdays were.) That explains my notes from several years earlier: “very young or very old”.

I found a listing for the Athelstan Cemetery which listed Georgia Older again and also E.J. Bownes, another name on my list of quilt squares. My notes on Mrs. E.J. Bownes and Georgia Older said “same stitching and same fabrics.”  Further research proved that Eliza Jane Bownes was Georgia Older’s mother. Eliza Jane (May 4, 1858-May 15, 1938) was 76 when the squares were completed and most likely Georgia made the square for herself and her mother. Since both squares have possibly some of the best stitching out of all the squares, I tend to lean towards Georgia making both squares, thinking that Eliza’s eyesight may have diminished at this age. But, maybe not. Maybe Eliza’s eyesight was fine and her hand was steady, and she made the both squares.  I can document Georgia and Eliza being mother and daughter, both living in Athelstan, Iowa, and both being buried in Athelstan Cemetery. I can’t document which one of the two made the squares. That part shall forever remain a mystery.

Athelstan Cemetery holds the remains of many family members connected to the quilt squares.  Balch, Booher, Byrns, Fidler, Kemery, Morris, Older, Rusco, Scott, Weaver and Weese. Although only two names show on the internet listing of those buried at Athelstan Cemetery, I later found out that Evelyn Bownes is also buried there.

Thank goodness for the internet.  Before I’ve bemoaned how there is so much information out there for public access, but it was working in my favor.

The “hunt” was on!

1934 Athelstan Quilt Squares Story: Post 1

Little did I know how stopping at a yard sale would alter my life several years later.

It was a typical, sunny Southern Californiaday (around 2005 or 2006).  It was a Friday and I was off of work. I’d driven out to a friend’s condo in Palm Springs for a few hours. While leaving town that afternoon, I saw a sign staked at the edge of the street.  Giant black letters proclaimed “YARD SALE” with an arrow pointing left.

Hmmmmm, I wondered. I wonder if yard sales in Palm Springs are any different than the ones at home. I quickly turned down the side street and stopped to browse the graveled front yard, littered with tables and “good deals” covering most of the yard area.  I walked around, covering the area without spending too much time.  Videos for $2 each, stacks of paperback books, tires, the usual miscellaneous assortment of unwanted items.

Then … I spotted the table with bedding, towels and such.  I honestly don’t remember what else was there because I spied a laundry basket with quilted fabrics in it.  I looked closer and it appeared to be several quilt tops in the basket, pieced but never completed into quilts.  There were some quilt squares nestled in amongst the quilt tops, some Sunbonnet Sues and Overall Bills.  They appeared to be older fabrics.  There wasn’t a price on the basket or on the individual pieces.

Over the prior few years I’d acquired a few old quilts at antique stores.  A very few, because I usually couldn’t afford them, they were typically priced way out of my budget.  Hoping that I could afford to purchase at least one of the quilt tops, I approached the lady that appeared to be in charge of the yard sale. 

I tried very hard to appear nonchalant and almost bored. “How much do you want for the quilt tops?” I asked, knowing I had $20 in my wallet and could run to an ATM to get another $20.  Higher than that, I’d be out of luck.

“Well, they’re pretty old,” she answered.  (Duh!  I thought to myself.  Why do you think I want one so much?  But I wisely kept my thoughts to myself.)  “Twenty dollars,” she added.

“For each one?” I asked, trying to quickly decide which one I wanted most.

“For all of them.”

Poker face intact, I calmly said, “I’ll take them.”  Inside I was jumping up and down, almost doing cartwheels as I strolled to the car (trying very hard not to run) to get the twenty dollars for my new treasures.  Handing her the money, I started to take them all out of the laundry basket and she said, “Take the basket too.”

I think I said thank you.  I’m sure I did, but I was almost delirious and trying so hard not to show my delight so she wouldn’t snatch the basket back and raise the price.  I sat the basket in the back seat and drove away as fast as I could without attracting any Palm Springs police officer’s attention.

Arriving home an hour and a half later, I proudly carried my yard sales treasures inside.  Lifting each piece out, one at a time, revealed that I now had three pieced and unquilted quilt tops, along with a set of thirty Sunbonnet Sue and Overall Bill quilt squares.

Each of the squares had a name stitched on it, except for three. The piece de resistance was one square that was stitched with ‘ToDoris, From Mother, 1934’. I was ecstatic!

Any of the quilt tops, by itself, was worth far more than the twenty dollars I paid for the entire lot.  Two were machine stitched and just blocks, no particular pattern.  One top, my favorite of the three, was completely hand stitched. It consists of little tiny hexagons making up a pattern similar to ‘Grandmothers Flower Garden’, except the usual circle of hexagons had one additional hexagon on each side, creating a diamond type design.

The wheels in my brain started turning.  If the quilt squares had names on them, and 1934 on one of the squares … then somewhere, some place in 1934 all of these names were connected in some way, maybe not all to each other, but at least to Doris and Mother.

Making a list of all of the names on the squares, I added notes for each.  Which ones had matching fabrics, same surnames, similar stitching.  On many I made the note ‘very young or very old’, due to the quality of the stitching.  I sat down at the computer several times, putting various combinations of names in the search engine, trying to discover a common denominator among some of the names.

I didn’t find any answers.  Their secret was to remain hidden for several more years.

I moved from California.  The squares, along with the quilt tops and my other antique quilts were packed up for the move.  They stayed packed away for three years.

And then …..

The secrets start to emerge.  How?  What secrets do the squares start to tell?  Come back later in the week to find out what happens next.

Note …. to see photos of all 30 quilt blocks, check our Facebook page: 1934 Athelstan Quilt Squares

January 2023

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