Most of what I know about my paternal grandmother I have learned from reading small items in the pages of the Edwardsville Intelligencer.
The spring of 1915 was a busy time for my grandmother, then known as “Miss Nora Buchta of the Springfield Road.”
The busy spring of her 16th year began with her appearance in an operetta as Petunia Pimples, the milliner. The purpose was to raise funds for Liberty Prairie School and, according to the report in the March 13, 1915 edition of the paper, the performance brought in just over $34.
Six days later the paper ran another item; this time she had been a guest of Lillian Stortz who lived on Vandalia Street.
Then, on the 29th of the same month there was a lengthy item about the Evangelical and Lutheran confirmation class of which my grandmother was a member. This item helped me date a photo that hangs in the entry of my house.
In the photo there are fourteen young men, seven young women, and a man. (I learned from the article in the newspaper that the man is Reverend H. Rahn). All seven of the young women are wearing white dresses, and of those, six are wearing white stockings and white shoes. My grandmother, is the lone fashion renegade with black stockings and shoes to set off her white confirmation dress.
Despite, because of, or unrelated to my grandmother’s footwear, the confirmation was a huge success. The auditors sent to oversee it were pleased, and the event drew such a large crowd that 50 people had to be turned away.
More than a month passes before my grandmother’s name again appears. Then on May 7 it is noted that Miss Nora Buchta went to Center Grove for several days as the guest of Miss Marie Pfeiffer.
There is another lapse and she is not mentioned again until early June when she and her older brother, Hilbert, attended a surprise going away party for William Schmidt who was headed to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to visit for the summer.
These odd bits and pieces are how I have come to know my grandmother, and these are the things I think about as I work on the pieces of the project I am making to commemorate her life.
As I worked on the four corners that are inspired by the card table tablecloth she embroidered, my mind began to ruminate on what should come next, and in those ruminations was the seed of an idea, so after making substantive progress (with some final decisions yet to be made) on the four corners:
I set the four corners aside and got to busy working out the details of the next piece of the project.
My grandmother, in addition to being a fiercely competitive pinochle player, was also an accomplished piano player, and I decided that a crochet keyboard would be a good addition to this visual narrative of the life of a woman I never met, so I got to work.
The first four or five efforts were passable, but then I came up with this which I think is more than passable:
This project is shaping up to be an interesting journey, and unlike most of my state fair projects at this point in the season, I have no idea what shape the final result will take.
In the meantime, I move forward as I always do: one stitch at a time.