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Sunday, Sep. 21, 2014

Labor of love creates Ladies Day surprise

Thursday, July 28, 2011

(Photo)
Longtime Putnam County Extension Educator Jackie Baumann is the surprise recipient of a handmade butterfly quilt during Ladies Day activities Wednesday at the Putnam County Fair.
The picture of composure despite the heat and humidity Wednesday, Jackie Baumann was cool, calm and collected as the annual Putnam County Fair Ladies Day activities neared a lunch break without a hitch.

The day's program in the Community Building was under control. Everyone seemed happy and interested. And she was about to pull off a surprise announcement of the annual Spirit of the Fair winner (Geneva Dorris) without the secret leaking out.

Little did the longtime Putnam County Extension educator know that a few minutes later she was about to be surprised herself.

Last fall, a number of ladies involved in the county Extension clubs Baumann oversees decided it was high time Jackie be rewarded for the selfless things she does for the good of the county, community and the fair.

So while Pam Richards of Cloverdale had the podium Wednesday, she called Jackie to the stage, brought in husband Joe from the adjoining room and unveiled a true labor of love.

The women unfurled a 30-block butterfly quilt and matching pillow as a gift for Baumann "in appreciation for all you do."

Every county homemaker club sent in a silk handkerchief that became a separate block of the quilt. The head of each butterfly required embroidery work to boot.

On Achievement Night last fall, someone suggested the butterfly design would be appropriate, and Richards remembered she had a pattern for just that quilt. She dug around her home until she found an old 1998 magazine containing the pattern. That got the quilters off and running.

"They had a ball," Richards said of the quilters. "It was just like an old-fashioned quilting bee. They were in stitches about half the time."

But this was no overnight project.

Four expert local quilters -- Mary Alice Harcourt, Dorliss Deaton, Clair Winings and Marianne Ash -- spent six weeks on the quilting work alone.

Winings said the four women worked two days a week, five hours a day over six weeks to create the one-of-a-kind gift. That computes to 240 man hours (or in this case, woman hours).

Harcourt recalled how it came together after she realized the task was too big for one person.

"I thought, 'I've got to have help,'" she said, "so I called in the troops. And in between time I quilted by myself just to keep up."

Baumann was stunned that she had absolutely no idea about Wednesday's surprise.

"Is this because Betty Sendmeyer's been telling everyone I'm going to retire at the end of the year? Because I'm not," Baumann smiled.

"You little stinkers, you are so sneaky. This is very, very wonderful," she added.

"It's a miracle that this many women could keep a secret. I can't believe you guys pulled this off and kept it quiet. I didn't have a clue."

Baumann has served longer than any previous Putnam County Extension home economist/Extension educator, taking over in 1988 when Betty Sendmeyer retired after 20 years in the Putnam position (following 20 years in Clay County).

Baumann would love to have snapped some photos of her new treasure as Richards and others put it on display during the lunch break. However, Baumann's digital camera was stolen during the Baby Show Sunday night, so she hasn't been taking any pictures so far this fair week.

But that doesn't mean the butterfly quilt wasn't worthy of a Kodak moment.

"I'll tell you what," Baumann said, "it's not going in any hope chest. It's going to be out where it's used and shared.

"I've got an 'el cheapo' quilt hanging in my living room from Walmart or someplace, and when I get home, it's coming down."



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