Monday, July 20, 2020

Pieces From The Past - Dragon Fly Part II

The letter from Herbert Wenzel had a tiny PS at the end of the letter that I wanted to touch on...

A small experience of a friend of mine who is a watchmaker and is still in the old homeland: a Russian came to him with an alarm clock and asked him to use the alarm clock to him make a wristwatch.

I don't know about you, but when I think of vintage alarm clocks I envision something like this...  Large and bulky.

I know they made smaller travel clocks as well, something like this one...

In the Kurt Landberger's book, Prisoners Of War at Camp Trinidad, Colorado 1943-1946, a report of the various activities and classes in which the prisoners were able to partake was given by Captain Hamilton Gardner.  

"Approximately 275 courses are being given in at least 26 groups or subjects, classes total approximately 800 hours per week.  Approximately 282 instructors are utilized, which include university professors, college graduates, among them officers with Ph.D.s, school teachers and specialists in various fields... Detailed records are kept and final examinations given; and certificates presented with the expectation that credit will later be received in Germany.  There is a need to develop correspondence courses with 'sponsored' American universities or colleges.

"The books at the library were looked at and "censorship is understood to have been applied."  Some 600 books were on loan from the University of Colorado at Boulder.  'Due to the help of prisoner book binders, these are returned in better condition than when received." 

In addition to the men having the opportunity to further their education academically the men also had an opportunity to learn a new vocation, including the trade of watch repairs.  The following story is from Chapter 17 of the book - Von Wechner.  

Von Wechmar, a baron and Afrika Korps officer, known around camp as one of the horse riders and an amateur thespian, would go on to become Trinidad’s most illustrious alumnus. He was picking beets on a POW work detail in the fall of 1945 when he heard a radio report about the formation of the United Nations. Decades later, he would become the Federal Republic of Germany’s ambassador to the UN, and, in 1980, president of the General Assembly. (Italicized excerpt is from Westword)

"Once again the YMCA demonstrated its wonderful connections.  It provided us with an initial set of tools and spare parts, all for the transportation costs of $51.15 US dollars.  That expenditure was quickly repaid since we charged between .25 and .75 for each repaired watch.  And after a little time we had brought back to life several hundred watches.  Mutius (a fellow prisoner) took the tools and the remaining parts, well packaged in a specially built box, to Germany and keeps them to this day.  Originally, the two of us had planned to open a watch repair shop.  We had no idea of what to expect at home and we said to ourselves:  knowing a trade assures a solid future.  Already we had asked a fellow-prisoner to design a few small advertising posters.  "QUICK" was to be the name of the shop.  However, it did not happen since each of us found another profession.  But the client lists, in which we registered the name of the watch owners, the type of repairs and the price, still exists."

The above excerpt was written approximately 20 years ago... making the register, the tools and parts 50+ years old.  If the records still exist they would be 70+ years. I wonder... did the family members know the significance of them and the fact that they were part of a plan to prosper upon their return home?  

I wonder, too, if the request for the modification of the alarm clock was from a fellow former POW?  While it states that a Russian made the request, not all of the POWs were German and many of the of the men returned "home" to the Russian zone, the English zone, and Czechoslovakia.  The author of this letter, Alfred, had family that lived in an area that had been taken over by Poland.

So the request to modify an alarm clock to a wrist watch inspired my modification with the Dragon Fly Block (post) and I had a little fun with these two variations...  
One of my readers that is not a fan of foundation paper piecing asked if I would make her block.  I happen to know that she is a lover of applique so I suggested that she make the Dragon Fly block using her preferred technique.  And since I made the suggestion, I thought it would be best if I  transformed the Dragon Fly block (pattern) into applique.  

This is raw edge applique using light weight fusible adhesive...

I made a four-patch block and then fused piece #1 to them and bordered them with a running stitch near the raw edges to assist with keeping the pieces in place.

This particular block is reduced by 50% so it finishes at 6 inches square.

I wanted to reduce the size of the block even further so I printed the pattern out at 34%, making a finished block at 4-1/4".  

At the same time I wanted to play with three colors... Isn't it cute!  This one makes me think butterfly garden. 🦋

Speaking of gardens... How many of you are gardeners?

Once-upon-a-time I enjoyed gardening... and then I learned to quilt.  My garden areas have been left untended and un-cared for for a few summers and it is time to eliminate one of them.  Plus, the last few summers we have had drought conditions and restricted watering regulations.  

I could use some suggestions for flowers and plants that are low maintenance and drought hardy plants.  Ready?  Go!

Leave a comment... You know I love to hear from my readers.

Quilt Happy!


Melva Loves Scraps - Home of the Pieces From The Past Sew Along
that features vintage Kansas City Star quilt blocks!

Linking with:

BOMs Away at What A Hoot Quilts
What I Made Monday at Pretty Piney
Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
Colour & Inspiration at Clever Chameleon Quilting
Mid-week Makers at Quilt Fabrication
Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter
Put Your Foot Down at For the Love of Geese
Needle & Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
Creative Compulsions at Bijou Bead Boutique
Can I Get A Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Off The Wall Friday with Nina Marie
Brag About Your Beauties at From Bolt to Beauty
Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More
Friday Foto Fun at Powered by Quilting
Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts
Oh Scrap! at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework
Sunday Stash at QuiltPaintCreate
Patchwork & Quilts at The Quilting Patch

Scrap Happy Saturday at Super Scrappy


  1. Fantastic read! I love the contrast of the red/black dragonfly block. I don't have much of a garden any more. I had a wonderful vegetable and herb garden at my old house, but there's not a good place for one in the yard since I moved to a new place about five years ago. It makes me sad (I miss my fresh asparagus) but I'm much more appreciative of my local CSA and farm markets.

  2. If plants grow for me, they must be hardy. I have peony, day lily and bleeding heart that do very well.

  3. Melva.....what an interesting story! Thank you for this piece of history. You are in Trinidad? We have had a cabin in Cuchara since the early 80s. We turn at Trinidad to head on highway 12. We are not coming this year for several reasons, but I have always thought Trinidad was an interesting city. We have visited there several times.

  4. What a great idea, and both blocks are so well done. I used to always have a garden, but it's a lot of work, and I don't want to do it these days. This year I have one tomato plant, a bunch of bell pepper plants from a seed center we planted from an orange pepper - it will be interesting to see what we get from it, and a rosemary plant that came back on its own.

    I loved the history you included in this post. I hope the families saved the watch parts and posters. Maybe donated them to a museum in Germany, at least. It would be sad to think that piece of history and the planning the men did went into the garbage.

  5. Ah, Crossed Canoes! Perhaps someone had an alarm clock as a pocket watch? I too life in an area where I'm after drought tolerant, heat resistant, easy care plants. In my garden we now have lavender, rosemary, Sea Holly, Sedum Autumn Joy... wanted purple cone flower, but didn't happen this year. Also have some kind of ground cover that is related somehow to the sedum. Good luck!

  6. I enjoyed the write up on today's blog. The Dragon Fly block with the yellow stitching is striking!
    I am at the time of life where I am rethinking the plantings around the house - some are old and on their last legs and some require more work than I see myself doing in the future. I live in central Texas (west of Austin) which has clay, thin and rocky soil as well as a dearth of rainfall in the summer and early fall. We also have deer that walk around and must try one of everything to see if they like it or not. All of the above is written to say that this area is a challenge to grow plants. I see people growing successfully sage, rosemary, and lavender as perenials. Pride of Barbados grows well in the right spot. I am currently trying Monarda (bee balam) as I like blooming plants. One thing that is key in gardening in this area is compost and mulch. Compost to fight the clay, so that water can get to the roots, and a thick layer of compost on top of the ground around the plant to fight water evaporation and to prevent weeds from appearing. I also find that the site HighCountryGardens dot com has very helpful (and free) advice on drought tolerant plants. Fall gardening around here is the best time to garden. Good luck on whatever you decide to plant!

  7. I like the applique version, and the colors are fantastic. I used to garden. I can't anymore but I really miss it. I loved growing my own vegetables and canning at the end of the season.

  8. I have gaillardia, coreopsis, evening primrose, Russian sage, and yarrow in my garden. They are drought resistant and very hardy. We've had our plants for many years and have divided them and given some away. Even though their clumps get larger, they are not invasive. Since our garden is at our summer house, they don't get pampered, but thrive inspite of it.

  9. Wow - such a small block - but they sure are pretty!

  10. Such a beautiful block no matter how it's made or how small. Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.

  11. So much information! The story of the POW's gave me chills and I wish Hollywood would make a story about American camps, families in Minnesota also had prisoners help on the farm and many stayed on. The block has so many possibilites, enlarge it and let it be a huge statement quilt! Gardens: I have 2 boys under 6 and a Husky. I have holes. But there is a little 4 x 4 that we bought a package called "butterfly" flowers packaged for that purpose and I now have Monarchs and many others and lots of bees (neighbor has a hive). Instructions: Scatter seeds, cover, ignore. Chicago has had high/low/rain/wind this year. And cicadas. Thanks so much for the story.