Quilters honor the women who came before

Penny Zweimiller, a member of St. Joseph Parish, Flush, teaches her 11-year-old granddaughter Jana Kellogg how to quilt. For nearly 100 years, quilters from St. Joseph have been building quilts to be raffled at the parish’s annual picnic.
Penny Zweimiller, a member of St. Joseph Parish, Flush, teaches her 11-year-old granddaughter Jana Kellogg how to quilt. For nearly 100 years, quilters from St. Joseph have been building quilts to be raffled at the parish’s annual picnic.

by Paula Ebert

FLUSH — It’s an announcement not made at the end of Mass of just any parish: “The quilt is out of the quilt frame!”
But St. Joseph in Flush is not just any parish. The women of the congregation have been piecing a quilt to be raffled off at the annual parish picnic since the 1920s. This year’s “sell-by” date is July 25; the picnic is traditionally held on the last Wednesday of July.

For the last several years, the quilting has been done at the rectory of the parish priest, Father Carl Dekat. This year, all told, 17 people donated 152 hours over the course of 24 days to the project.

Nancy Hubbard, who isn’t a member of the parish but is a local quilting enthusiast, said that she comes to help with the quilting to “honor the tradition of the women who came before us.”

She mentioned several women of the parish, now deceased, who led the way, including Clara Belle Ebert and Dorothy Ebert.

Other quilters, now deceased, who could be counted on year after year included Florence Noll, Loretta Straub, Viola Umscheid, Loretta Dekat, Angie Heptig, Eugenia Zoeller, Laura Dekat, Anna Marie Ebert, Mary Winter, Florence Noll, Genevieve Dekat, Mary Ridder, Elizabeth Umscheid and Alvira Umscheid.

“That’s why we need to keep it going — to carry on the tradition,” Hubbard said.

And what better way than to incorporate younger members into the group?

Penny Zweimiller brought along her granddaughter, 11-year-old Jana Kellogg, to help with the quilting.

“I’ve always wanted to learn to quilt,” said Jana. She already sews, making dresses for her cat, so she picked up quickly on the delicate process of pulling the threads so the quilt was pieced properly. Along the way, she also learned from the old hands there about different types of quilts.

While a quilt can be created in several ways, noted Marianne King, hand-stitched quilts are preferred by many collectors. And the group hand-quilting process in Flush provides an annual opportunity for the women of the parish to chat and get to know one another. Quilters new to the small community this year were Patty Chrest, Gale Seller and Victoria Lacruccua.

Dorothy Ebert’s daughter, Marty Reed, has provided the quilt top since her mother died in order to keep the tradition alive. She said she did it in memory of all the women who had crafted a quilt to benefit the parish for almost a century now, and in appreciation of all their hard work and dedication.

In addition to the quilt — and the fried chicken — the picnic is noted for its homemade pies and the country store, with produce fresh from the garden and home-canned items. This year, the parish is going to display “fancy work” done in the past, such as tatting, crocheting, crewel, embroidery, and more.

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