Local News

Wednesday, Jul 08 2009 10:55 PM

Sew much to remember

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    By Casey Christie

    Casey Christie / The Californian Polly and Bruce Hargreaves hold a memory quilt for their 45th wedding anniversary that focuses on their experiences while living and working in three different African countries. They are both former Peace Corps members, working in Africa, and now living in Bakersfield.

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    By Casey Christie

    Casey Christie / The Californian Polly and Bruce Hargreaves, former Peace Corps workers in Africa hold up the memory quilt Holly mad for their 45th wedding anniversary. She is pointing to a photo of the Fox Theater, representing their time in Bakersfield.

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    By Casey Christie

    Casey Christie / The Californian One of the sections on Polly's memory quilt is a photo of Polly and her husband Bruce on their wedding day. Polly made this memory quilt for their 45th wedding anniversary that focuses on their experiences while living and working in three different African countries. They were Peace Corps works and now live in Bakersfield.

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BY CAMILLE GAVIN, Contributing columnist

Some people, and I include myself in that category, might find it hard to name a popular song that reflects the life they have lived. Add to that the challenge of creating a quilt based on the title.

For quilt-maker Polly Hargreaves, it was a breeze.

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Cotton Patch Quilters meets on the third Thursday of the month at the Norris Road Veterans Hall. The next is scheduled for July 16 and as usual, two separate two-hour gatherings are planned, said Bob Miller, president.

The first, which is attended mainly by retired or unemployed people, begins at 9 a.m. To accommodate those who work during the day, a second one begins at 6 p.m.

Various projects are ongoing, such as the 32-inch-square quilts for covering Isolettes, the enclosed bassinettes hospitals use for premature babies. Other projects include prayer quilts for churches and Quilts of Valor, which are given to military veterans.

Members, however, don't have to be quilters to join the group.

"Some people do other things," Miller said. "My wife, Jutta, doesn't do quilts but she comes and crochets. And there are some who do needlepoint."

Membership is $25 a year. For more information, call Miller at 392-7960.

These are Camille Gavin's opinions, and not necessarily The Californian's.

COTTON PATCH QUILTERS

"I chose the Beatles song, 'The Long and Winding Road,' because that's us, it's our lives," she said. "It's been a very winding road."

Spreading out the 44-by-56-inch coverlet, she pointed out the significance of nearly 30 images placed here and there among the twists and turns of the quilt's traditional snake pattern, which is done in fabric made in Botswana. Each represents experiences she and her husband, Bruce Hargreaves, have had in seven states and three African countries.

"And it only includes places we've lived, not just visited," said her husband, a research scientist. "If it did, it would take about a dozen quilts."

The couple met in the early 1960s when both were students at Bakersfield College. They were married on June 19, 1964, following Bruce's graduation from UC Santa Barbara. The following year they joined the Peace Corps and were sent to Malawi to teach primary school.

Since then, with periodic returns to the United States, they have spent nearly half of their married years living and working in African countries.

Bruce, who earned his doctorate in parasitology -- for his research on malaria -- at New York University in 1970, later taught the subject in universities in Malawi, Lesotho and Botswana, and returned home a few times to teach at community colleges in Taft and Reedley.

During those many years, Polly had various kinds of employment, but one of her passions was helping to form a quilting group in Botswana.

"We made a lot of quilts to give to orphans," she said. "There are a lot of orphans there because of AIDS."

No electricity was available, so the group had to confine its quilting to daylight hours and used hand-crank sewing machines.

The Hargreaveses returned in 2007 and are living in northwest Bakersfield with his mother, Alice Hargreaves. Both his mother and his sister, Anne Lee, who lives next door, are quilters; both visited Bruce and Polly while the couple was in Africa.

Polly created her "memoir" quilt in response to a contest sponsored by Cotton Patch Quilters, a local organization of which she is a member.

"I started it in January and thought, oh, I'll finish it someday," she explained. "But our wedding anniversary was coming up so I decided to get it done for that."

And, other than the quilt, how did they celebrate their anniversary on June 19?

"We didn't do anything special; we just went to see a movie at the Fox Theater," she said, pointing to a medallion-sized photo of the theater's familiar clock tower sewn into the quilt. "That's one of our favorite places -- we love FLICS (film society)."

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