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November – Veterans Month

We began our month of November at 0-dark-30 heading to Walnut Creek to the Berean Christian High School. For those of you who don’t live in California, Valley Springs is a small community in the foothills. We are considered country folks so driving to Walnut Creek in the Bay Area traffic, getting up at 0-dark-30 no one enjoys that part, but we do it for our veterans.

We arrived at the School, signed in at the office and the office lady said they were having quite a few visitors because of us and welcome back. We have gone to Berean Christian High School for many years. It was Quilts of Honor that helped them learn to make quilt tops and honor our veterans. Carol, a family friend, met Flo and I and became part of the QOH team. She took pictures for us so Flo cold help feed the quilts as the students carried them to center stage. Carol also works at Berean. The ceremony is always held in the Gym which is beautiful. They call it chapel and all the students attend. This year Craig Lee was master of ceremonies. We started with God Bless America sung by one of their own then we all sang. It is always inspirational with the veterans all sitting in their chairs not even knowing what is going on. They came because a daughter, son, grandson or granddaughter wanted to honor them. Quilts of Honor was their surprise and this year we had some veterans that didn’t qualify for a quilt so we called them up front and pinned a Veterans Pin on their collar. Both veterans thanked us for the honor of being there.

Craig called each veteran up. Our first was an Air Force female veteran. Boy was she shocked and once she received her quilt she never stopped talking about her time in service which she had not done before. Each veteran had a great story. One even served in an Army Band but he played clarinet. He said he was asked to play taps on his clarinet as there were so many killed in action. He said he saw how many times the buglers were called during Vietnam. One of the Navy veterans brought his uniform for the students to see and said he was 8 inches too big to fit into it – they sure laughed at that.

The last veteran was 98 years old, WWII veteran, who served on a Tin Can Destroyer as he described it. They were hit numerous times in the Pacific by the Japanese. They lost 150 men and kept the boat afloat by stuffing their mattresses in holes and throwing what they could overboard. It was amazing to stand there and listen to him – what a hero. I can’t even believe all these years he has lived and tells his story. When I gave him his quilt he said it was the nicest present. When I took his arm to walk off I felt proud to be with him.

It was a great ceremony and we ended with one of the female teachers singing the National Anthem. She was going out on maternity leave and boy was it good. We ended up awarding 7 quilts and 2 veteran pins. It was also nice that three of the quilts presented were from the school itself. When we finished, of course we had to stop and shop. Flo spotted a Patriotic Nutcracker in the store window and is now sitting in the Barn so we can enjoy it.

We had a couple of days in the Shop to get ready for Veteran Honors in Valley Springs. The Rotary Club of West Calaveras was having a chicken BBQ ribs dinner. They asked if Quilts of Honor would be a part of it. I said sure and asked if there would be veterans to present. Gary said he would see if he could find some. In the meantime, my veteran brother, Mike, calls and said he has a friend he had gotten to know who has a Purple Heart and could we get him a quilt. I told him to bring him to dinner, so he got Warren and his wife to dinner so we could surprise him.

Then Gary calls, “Gail I got one Vietnam veteran who has played Santa Claus in our Christmas parade for 22 years.” I knew Jeff and was excited for him. So, we had two – not bad for last minute. Flo got the quilts ready and we always take extras. We got to dinner and there was 14 of us. We had two tables. I was at one end of the table and Diana, my sister, had asked two friends. Margaret sat next to me and as everyone was talking, Judy said that Margaret was a veteran. I asked Margaret when and where she had served. She said she had been in the Army for 10 years. I asked her why she didn’t tell people that she was a veteran and she said she hadn’t put in as much time as others. So, guess what. Her name went on one of our extra quilts. You should have seen her face when Gary called her name. When she sat down with that quilt she kept hugging it and said that she was redoing her whole house and the quilt was amazing. I told her to start telling people that she was a veteran.

Then came Warren, Purple Heart recipient. His wife was crying, his buddy was crying when he got his quilt and when I looked over at him at the table he was hugging that quilt.

The 3rd quilt was another Vietnam veteran. Gary asked him about his service, he was speechless but what a smile.

The last was Jeff, Santa Claus, Vietnam veteran. When I went to shake his hand he said, “Oh no, you’re not getting away that easy.” He grabbed the mic and said: You know what this lady has done all over the states. She goes giving these quilts. Then he broke down, said it was an honor to have one, starts crying, grabs me and hugs me.

What 4 great deserving veterans.

Just when I’m so glad my part is over and I’m walking back to the table, I hear my name – Come back up front. So I get up there and Gary, master of ceremonies, and also a Supervisor in District 1, says, “We are honoring two special veterans tonight for Service Above Self for the benefit of veterans.” I was awarded a plaque along with my fellow veteran, Guy, Silver Paws non-profit, who trained Rue my Service Dog.

So, what a night. I will say I don’t like being honored. I don’t do it for that but being in my own home town, this was pretty cool. Thank you Rotary of Calaveras for the honors.

We have been receiving lots of label copies from our Chapters in other states – they are busy as Veterans Week is always crazy.

Tonight I will attend the Marine Ball which has become a tradition with our family – my Dad is a Marine. I will also award a quilt tonight so this should be interesting. I will be in my Army uniform and honor a Marine.

Stay tuned for more to come as we all move through Veterans month. I know that Veterans Day, to me, is like a birthday. I love that we can go and eat free or go to a parade which I have done since I got out of the service. They have made it a good day for so many veterans that deserve it.

God bless all our veterans and all those who are still serving. To my WAC Band Sisters and one brother – May you have the best Veterans Day and I will see you in October 2020.

Blessings,
Gail

Day 8 – Journey Home

Before we left Branson we went to the next door neighbor’s and gave him a quilt for his best buddy, a Navy Seabee from Vietnam. So, even when I walk Rue and I make friends and find veterans.

We started from Branson at 8:15am – we wanted to make sure we wouldn’t miss our plane. We stopped for breakfast at the Cracker Barrel about half way there. Gotta keep the crew happy and empty stomachs aren’t good.

When we got closer to Tulsa we stopped at the Hard Rock Café. It is huge and they are building on. We gave ourselves 30 minutes and Flo was lucky enough to bring home an extra $25. The whole crew came home with extra suit cases so what does that tell you.

When we got to Las Vegas, our connecting flight, we had to check in with the gate so they could see Rue. We had on our QOH sweatshirts and the gatekeeper asked what we were all about. The girls gave him the speech and he said all six of you can go on. We felt, like wow. We even all got to sit together. When we were getting ready to leave, the stewardess said, “We have some special people on board, Quilts of Honor.” Everyone on the plane clapped. We felt so honored. We had one empty seat by us and a lady sat next to Flo and asks what we were about. Flo tells her and she turned out to be an Air Force Veteran. Even more cool is that she helped found the Women Military Aviators. Only could happen to us.

My crew, I hope, had a good time, along with working, we did try to see the sights. The 7 of us were in that big house but it all worked out because we are a family. Rick was always there to make sure all his women were ok. Carl made the coffee every morning. We all got into a routine. Thank you Rick, Val, Debbie, Rita, Flo and Carl for always having my back. Love you guys.

To all of our Quilts of Honor Family, you all deserve a big hand for helping us to continue our mission. It takes an Army!!

Until our next adventure, stay tuned . . . . . . . . . .

God’s Blessings,
Gail

 

We had a slow morning as we knew we had to be ready by 2:30 so we could get there in time. The road closure made it a longer ride and the City of Branson was having three big events so traffic was not fun.

We got into the room in plenty of time to get the Quilts set up. We made Val the keeper of the door to keep people from coming in to see what we were doing. Val was great. She screened everyone and barely let the Master of Ceremonies in but we pulled it off – a great surprise.

Once we got the quilts all set up we went to get our clothes out of the car. We ended up stripping in the car with the girls holding up shirts so we could change. We all said that is a first – changing in the parking lot.

We were to be up after the Missing Man Table and before dinner. We met Linda and Phil as soon as we got there. That is how we came to award quilts to this Army unit that served in Vietnam together – 43 Purple Hearts out of 113 quilts.

They called me up right after the Missing Man Table. It always make me nervous when I walk through the crowd to the front. I told them who I was and how we got there and when I said we were going to give everyone a quilt, you should have seen their faces. We had Don call the names and Rita fed the quilts to Carl, Val and Flo. Debbie took the pictures and Rick handed me the quilts. It took us a while to get them to understand that they had gotten out of order so finally I took the Mic from Don and told everyone that they needed to get in line or we would be there all night. It worked pretty good and we finally got to ‘Z’ and finished. I then told them why we gave them quilts – that we didn’t want them to be forgotten. They gave us a standing ovation.

When we were handing out the quilts at times, I would turn around and there would be 20 people taking pictures and the guys wouldn’t want to leave the stage. The wives and sons and daughters were coming up to us and thanking us. Some were saying that they couldn’t believe how beautiful the quilts were and how much work went into them. We then went to sit down and have dinner. Veteran after veteran came over to thank us. I went out to the car to get Rue and on my way there a veteran in a blue suit came up to me, grabbed me, hugged me with tears rolling down his face. He could hardly talk. He said, “You got my heart and there is a place in heaven for you.” I thought there will be a lot up there with me who help do this.

One Son came over and said, “I’ve been coming with my Dad since I was 13. What you have done for him is an amazing gift. I have learned watching my dad how much they have suffered through the years but this will mean so much to him.”

I shook each veteran’s hand and thanked them for their sacrifice to our country from Quilts of Honor. The look in so many of their eyes – I could see the pain but I could also see what the quilt meant to each one. I can’t tell you how many kisses and hugs I got but Debbie said she got tired of trying to get pictures. One veteran was just grinning and when his family came up to take pictures of him with his quilt, he was laughing like a young kid. All around the room they were taking pictures with their families after they got their quilt.

We took our Crew picture at the end of the evening and you will see Rue’s butt. I think she had enough by that time. As we walked out, people kept stopping us and thanking us. When we finally got to the car I opened the back door and Rue jumped in the back then she jumps over the seat which she never does. We knew she was ready to go and call it the end.

What a gift we give to our veterans. When you see these faces of our veterans, you will just keep on keeping on.

We start for home this morning. I’m sure there may be a few more stories. I want to thank the Crew for all they did and never complained.

God’s Blessings
Gail

Day 6 – Day After the Storm

Well, here we are in Branson, MO and it decides to have a storm that they will not forget. I did tell you we are on the river. We are 1 mile from Branson Landing – probably doesn’t mean much to you all, sure does to us. Last night we got phone alerts all night long – heavy rain and lightning. When we woke up this morning the river was brown and the docks were eye level. The picture of the dock I had taken yesterday, the dock was on the right side of the river upstream. It is now across from us on the left side. We were watching the news and we see that there was a mud slide from all the rain but we really didn’t pay attention. We decided to go shopping and as we headed down the road, Debbie programs the GPS and says, “I think the road is closed.” Well, she was right. We got routed all the way around Branson. We finally got across and saw that part of the slide was off Lakeshore Drive, the road we were staying on – not good.

We went to two outlet malls and ended up at Branson Landing to eat a late lunch. We tried to eat at Paula Deen’s – ha.  There was an hour wait and you couldn’t even move in the place so we went next door to the Black Oak Grill. We walk in and I said 7 please and the gentleman says, “We don’t allow dogs.” I told him she was a Service Dog and he said he would have to ask. I spoke up and told him he couldn’t ask me to leave as it was against the law. He started walking away then turned around and said he would seat us right here. Now I was trying to stay calm and he says, “They leave hair.” “Not this dog, she is a Poodle.” He said he didn’t know about dogs and I told him that he better learn as he is in a position where you meet the public and he would be seeing more Service Dogs. The crew has decided Rue and I will have to be Ambassadors for Service Dogs so people will learn.

After lunch we decided to walk the Branson Landing. There are over 100 stores but it was so cold. Half way down we ran into the Flag with Beautiful water shooting up towards the flag. Then Rita saw the chair and said we gotta get a picture. So Debbie jumps up and I’m getting ready to take a picture and they are yelling for Flo to get up there so she jumps on and I’m taking pictures when a lady came by and said she would take the picture so up Rue and I go, too. When I jumped up I fell back – you can see by the picture – we were quite a site.

We finally decided to head home early but it ended up being a 45 minute ride instead of a 10 minute ride because of the road closure. When we got home I took Rue out to walk and we ran into a couple with 2 little dogs. Debbie was walking with me and we were talking about the storm and we started telling them what we do and I could see a tear in his eye and I asked if he knew someone then he hands me a bill and I said you don’t have to do that. He said he wanted to give us some help. He did tell me he has a friend he sees every Monday night that is a Vietnam veteran so I told him I had an extra quilt and we would bring it by Sunday morning. I didn’t even get their name but I know where they live. Debbie and I walked back into the house and I teased the crew that they should let me peddle more – they couldn’t believe I got a hundred dollar bill.

We had a nice day. The crew got to go into two quilt shops so I think they were happy. Tomorrow we will start to our event early and hope all goes well. Stay tuned . . . . . . . . . .

God’s blessings,
Gail

PS: Thank God no beans today.

Day 5 – Silver Dollar Day

While everyone was getting ready for the day Flo, Debbie and I were out on the deck watching the River when an Eagle flew out of the tree. I was screaming, “It’s an Eagle.” Debbie and Flo are laughing – “we see that.” I do get a little excited over those Eagles but that was two Eagles in two days so I was sure happy.

We had all decided to go to Silver Dollar City. They were having a Harvest Festival and Pumpkin Nights with over 10,000 pumpkins. We were told by a local that we could get tickets at half price on Thursday so we thought we would go for it. Only problem, we were getting weather alerts – thunder and lightning and pouring was rain expected but the price was right so we all decided we gotta try. We headed out about 10:15, got disabled parking which saved us $16. Silver Dollar City is the first place I have ever see give free parking to disabled. When we entered the gate one of the guys said they would have to screen your Service Dog and pulled us off to the side. Then a lady came over and the first question out of her mouth was, “why do you have the dog?” I said, “Ma’am, you can’t ask me that.” She said that if I wanted to get in I would have to answer. So I told her and she said fine, you can go. We had the only dog in that whole place. We bought Rue a child poncho as I forgot her rain coat. Boy, did she need it. We got stopped so many times by people asking about Rue and if they could pet her and so many comments – she is beautiful. Rue was a real trooper. She is so special. By the time we got to the car, she was soaked.

We walked into the Festival and the atmosphere was amazing, rustic but beautiful. Old time traditions and food – oh Lordy, we will have to go on a diet. Every time we saw something we would say we gotta try that. The first thing we saw was homemade apple turnovers and we all had one of those. Then we went to see our first show. They were all dressed like lumberjacks cirque de sole style. There were 2 girls and about 8 guys. They did acrobatics, threw one girl all over the place, and had one guy hang with one arm and swing all over. The show was great. When we had gotten inside the show they escorted us because of Rue and sat us near the sound booth. I sat down next to a nice gentleman not noticing his hat. Flo saw his hat and thanked him for his service. I looked up and he had on a Marine hat. Well, then we both started talking and I told him I was a veteran, too. He and his wife had brought some friends to the Silver Dollar. We talked quite a bit before the show started then he reached over and handed me the Veteran Ribbon. He told me to wear it and that he had plenty and were season ticket holders. I thanked him and told him so often no one notices that I am a veteran, just the guys. It really touched me – that Marine is one good guy. We ran into them later, which is hard to believe as that place is huge, and he yelled, “hey friend,” and reached for my hand. I did give his wife my Card and told her to send me their name and address. I hope they do so I can surprise him with a quilt.

Rick, Carl, Debbie and Rita, those crazies, went on two wild rides while Flo, Val and I waited. They barely got off the rides when the lightning, thunder and rain came. We all headed for cover as it came down in buckets full. Our goal was to get to see the Pumpkin Nights and it was to start at 5:00pm. We were to get the worst storm at that time. We got to see the opening of the gates to the pumpkin area and walk most of it before the rains came again so we decided to call it a day. We had a great time, rain and all, and got to see some awesome crafts. If you ever get a chance to come this way, Silver Dollar City is well worth it. We had a full day. We will see what we have time for before Saturday, our big day for the quilts. Stay tuned for more adventures. . . . . . . . .

God’s blessings
Gail

PS: There were some beans today for lunch but I think they’re keeping them to a minimum so gas stays down wind.

Today was a life awakening experience for the whole crew. They got to see one of the largest Fabric Warehouses in Arkansas and the United States.

My family has worked with Marshall’s Dry Goods since 1997 so when we found out we were 3 hours away, the crew said, let’s go. So Debbie, Flo, Rita, Val and Rick headed to Batesville AK. The ride was beautiful. We went on so many backroads of Arkansas and the town names made us laugh. On our way we passed the North Fork Dam – boy is it huge. As we came around the top of the dam I pulled off the road to get a picture when Rita and Flo start yelling from the backseat, “There’s an Eagle in the tree.” I am so excited, I jump out of the care but I can’t see the Eagle. The girls kept yelling and then Debbie is out of the car and we finally see it – so beautiful and big. He flew off but we were all happy campers seeing our favorite bird.

We arrived at Marshall’s Dry Goods about 11:20, walked in and we all said, “OMG, this place is huge.” I asked for Randy who has been our sales rep for many years. I walked into his office and introduced myself and the crew. He couldn’t believe we had come from California. He said I’ll show you how we pick the bolts. The girls were already going in 4 different directions. They were so excited with all that fabric. Randy said he would take us to the new patriotic line so I founded up the gang so that we could all pick out together and in about 2 minutes we had 10 bolts of fabric. As we were carrying on, a gentleman came to us and asked if he could help us and that he was the owner. I told him I had met him many year before and we explained to him what Quilts of Honor was all about and he said he could help us.

First, he brings out 17 new patriotic fabrics and asks which ones do we like and how many do we want. There, the 6 of us were looking at each other and not believing someone was actually caring to make patriotic fabric. We showed Marshall what we wanted and he said, “Send it to me, I know I can help you.” What an experience. He gave us a price on 10 rolls of batting that will save us so much. He also said that any Quilt of Honor Chapter would be able to buy wholesale from him. It was such a great visit. We also got to meet the office staff who were great and were so nice to us.

Marshall told us that if we were going to go somewhere for lunch that he recommended Fred’s, the Best Fried Catfish you will ever have. Well, you all know I ain’t eatin that but for my crew, I’ll take them. We went to Fred’s and Rick got his fried catfish. We all got different items. They brought out hush puppies, pickled tomatoes and pinto beans for each of us. I ordered Fried Green Tomatoes for all to try. I had fried okra and most of us had sweet tea. We were loving our lunch when in walks Marshall and his wife. We talked while we ate then he got up, came back and said your lunch is taken care of. We all were so thankful to him.

When we first walked in everyone in the restaurant stared at us then the lady sat us down and I asked her if she had ever seen a service dog. She said “Not like yours” and tells us about a taco dog that had a blue Jean jacket on and was told it was a service dog. We were treated great and the Key Lime Pie came home with us. When we got up to leave, Rue came out from under the table and stares came from everyone in the restaurant.

We headed to the car for our 3 hour drive back to Branson. We stopped at a beautiful campsite at the base of the Dam. Debbie wanted an Arkansas souvenir so we stopped and asked at the gas station and the lady told Debbie, “Flippin Walmart” would have some. Debbie get in the car and says she thinks the lady was flippin her off. We get back on the road and see the name of the town – Flippin AK. We were all laughing and then we see the sign ‘Flippin Jail.’ That kept us entertained for quite a while.

We were going to get tickets for Silver Dollar City and were on our way to pick them up when we made a wrong turn and ended up outside Branson. I said, “Change of plans – we are going to the Branson Cross” which Flo had wanted to see. We get up to the top of the Cross and it’s cold and windy. We were the only ones there. Rita, Flo, Debbie and Val walked to the base of the cross and it was real windy. When they started walking back Debbie wanted to take a picture of them so they stop to pose and you know we had beans for lunch. Well, through the wind and all someone lets out gas. Debbie said she heard it through the wind and that started a laughing attack that I didn’t think any of us would survive.

Sometimes it is the little things that make life so worth it. Today was one of those days – to be with the QOH Crew and do what we love and make the most of it. I did do a few U-turns but my best was when I got in the middle of the 4 lanes to get that Flag picture against the clouds. Tomorrow we are expecting a bad storm so we are not sure what it will bring. So, stay tuned and I will try and keep the crew away from beans.

God’s blessings
Gail

 

Today we took off for a destination to Harrison AK and Country Corner Quilt Shop. We seem to always detour and ALWAYS U-TURN. Before we get to our destination, if it isn’t for a bathroom, it is because someone saw ‘something’ we must stop at. Our first stop was the Veterans Memorial at Ozark College. They have War Memorials for Korea, Vietnam, and Gold Star. We then headed toward Harrison with a driving tour through Hollister, a cute don’t blink your eyes, Main Street.

Back on the road and we stopped at Heart Quilt shop where everyone was greeted by baby kittens, even Rue was kissing them. Check out the pictures of Rita and Rue with kittens. We left there and landed at our destination.

Why, you ask, would we go clear to Harrison, AK? Well, in 1995 my folks bought their first Nolting machine from Country Corner. We all walked in and I asked for the owner. She was working on the Longarm. I introduced myself and told her about my folks and she remembered. We talked about how longarming had changed since 1997 and she told me Nolting had just sold so I am sure more changes are to come. It was nice to see where my folks started our beginnings and that I don’t forget that they helped what we have become. Enjoy the pictures Mom and Dad.

We then stopped at another Quilt shop. We all walked in, including Rue, and the lady said a few ‘wrong things’ that we heard and out the door we went. Some people can be so rude. Service Dogs have a purpose and especially mine. She is good in every way. If you don’t get it, keep it to yourself. I’m off my soap box now.

We then decided to go check out the Showboat that cruises the Table Rock Lake with dinner and a show. Rue even got a ticket. It was a good dinner and a great show. At the end they had all the veterans stand. When we sat down they started to sing God Bless America and I stood back up and everyone all around started standing. There were red, white and blue lights everywhere – it was so fitting.

The crew did decide they were going to count today’s U-turns. Well, that lasted for about 5 U-turns and they gave up so I’m still keeping them entertained. You would be surprised how I can U-turn a Suburban anywhere.

We had a good day and more adventures to come. Stay tuned . . . . . . .

God’s blessings,
Gail