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Quilted service

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | November 11, 2022 1:25 AM

MOSES LAKE — The quilts come in a variety of designs and sometimes in different colors. They all have the same purpose - to recognize military veterans for their service to the country.

The Basin Piecemakers make the quilts, and their members took some of them to Brookdale Hearthstone in Moses Lake on Nov. 9 for the facility’s veterans. Guild member Nancy Latham said the group has donated 24 quilts in the Moses Lake area this year, and sent another five to the VA hospital in Spokane.

“We’ve wanted to cover the local veterans, and especially the Vietnam veterans because they weren’t recognized at all,” Latham said.

About seven veterans got quilts at Brookdale, mostly red, white and blue, although Latham said quilts can be any color.

“We make kits, block kits, for the quilts, and then whoever wants to take them at the meetings takes them and makes the blocks,” she said. “And then we have several members in the club that will quilt them for us - they have the longarm machines, so they will quilt them for us. And Dona Sartin does most of the binding.”

“And puts a label on the back,” said guild co-president Karen McGhghy. “She really likes doing it because it keeps her occupied. She’s 92.”

Many of the Brookdale veterans were Sartin’s contemporaries, or a little bit younger, and were in the military between the late 1940s and early 1960s. Ken Gregory was in the Army - well, let him tell it.

“Three years, eight months, 27 days, one hour and 15 minutes,” he said.

Gregory was in an engineering unit from 1952 to 1956, he said, working part of the time in Alaska.

“I was in a mapping unit, strictly mapping,” he said. “We mapped all over the place.”

Alaska really was a frontier in the early 1950s, with large areas that had no roads or even adequate maps.

“The places they sent me were wild,” he said.

His unit also spent time in Hawaii, he said, but their workspaces were in a tunnel, so they didn’t get much chance to see the sun.

Lowell Isom was in the Army from 1959 to 1962, spending two and a half years of his tour on Okinawa, which was then under American jurisdiction.

There are all sorts of jobs in the military, some of them behind the scenes.

“I was a food inspector,” Isom said.

He was scheduled for discharge in the fall of 1962 - just about the time U.S. authorities discovered the Soviet Union was installing nuclear missiles in Cuba, kicking off the tense two-week period known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Nobody went anywhere, even after the crisis had eased.

“Everybody was frozen where they were for three months,” he remembered.

The Basin Piecemakers have been making and donating quilts for veterans, periodically, for years, and started concentrating on local vets about two years ago.

“This year we have started going to the assisted living places,” Latham said. “So we ask them how many veterans they have. Then we set it up with Paulette and Phil Rivera, through the VFW and the American Legion, to do the program for us.”

Brookdale was the second donation, with others planned, she said.

There’s really only one rule for the quilts.

“They should be about 55 to 60 (inches) by at least 72 (inches),” Latham said.

“Twin size,” McGhghy said.

“Just a nice throw,” Latham said.

Although there are no requirements, many of the quilts do have a red, white and blue color scheme.

“(Veterans) like the ones that are red, white and blue, and that’s what we try to incorporate, but we can add some other colors in, too. I was told a lot of (veterans) like the stars, whether it’s in the fabric or in the patterns,” Latham said.

The club members draped the quilts around the shoulders of each veteran as they presented them. Phil Rivera also gave each veteran a small American flag.

Veteran Bob Busherd, 91, had something he wanted to say to the quilt makers.

“Thank you for caring about us,” Busherd said.

Cheryl Schweizer may be reached at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.

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CHERYL SCHWEIZER/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

Brookdale Hearthstone veterans, wearing their new quilts, talk with a Basin Piecemakers Guild member.

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CHERYL SCHWEIZER/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

Brookdale Hearthstone veterans show off their new quilts after a presentation from the Baskin Piecemakers Guild Nov. 9.

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CHERYL SCHWEIZER/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

Each quilt donated to veterans by the Basin Piecemakers Guild carries a message of appreciation.

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