Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Setting of The Persian Pickle Club

Kansas Troubles Quilt Block

We'd love to have you join the on-line Quilters' Book Club.  Either become a follower of my blog or sign up to receive my blog posts through email so you won't miss out on any posts. 

For the month of February, we're reading and discussing The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas.  Then we'll each make a block to represent the book.  Our focus today is on the setting. 

The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas takes place during the Great Depression of the 1930's in the town of Harveyville, Kansas.  Harveyville is in Wabaunsee County in the northeastern part of Kansas.  The capital of Topeka is 34 miles away.  In an author's note on her website, Sandra writes:

In 1933, shortly after they were married in Illinois, my parents both lost their jobs. So they moved to Harveyville, Kansas to live on my paternal grandparents’ farm and earn their keep by doing farm work. One morning, a neighbor stopped by and offered to pay a dollar for a day’s work in the fields. Dad and his brother flipped a coin to see which one of them would get the job. Dad won, and he worked so hard that he finished up by noon and was paid just four bits. That was the only money he earned all summer. My parents are not Tom and Rita in The Persian Pickle Club, but their desire to move off the farm gave me the idea for the book. By the way, the Ritter farm is my grandparents’ farm in Harveyville, and Mrs. Ritter is based on Grandma Dallas.

During the 1930's, my parents both grew up on farms close to Harveyville.  My mother lived only 18 miles from Harveyville, and my dad lived 34 miles from there, so that makes this book especially interesting to me.    

State Fair Sunflower Quilt Block

I found this 12" State Fair Sunflower quilt block in Kansas Spirit: 15 Historical Quilt Blocks and the Saga of the Sunflower State by Jeanne Poore, but here's a link to a very similar block:  
http://www.quilterscache.com/S/StateFairVariationBlock.html  Just make the upper 1/4 of this 12" block, and you have the State Fair Sunflower block, a perfect block for Kansas, the Sunflower State!

Country Farm Quilt Block

I have given you nine possible quilt blocks that go with the setting and eight possible quilt blocks that go with the theme of friendship found in The Persian Pickle Club.  (To see the blocks with a friendship theme, click here:  http://www.starwoodquilter.blogspot.com/2013/01/theme-of-friendship-in-persian-pickle.html.)  During the rest of February, I'll give even more suggestions of quilt blocks that go with the characters and events found in the book - so there's no need to hurry and make a block yet!     

Questions:  Do you have memories of this time period of the 1930's and the Great Depression?  Have you heard stories from your parents or grandparents?  Do you have experiences living on a farm or in a small town?  Anything you can share with others about Kansas? 

Please reply in the comments section so all book club members can see and respond.

You might also enjoy reading the introduction to the Quilters' Book Club here:

14 comments:

  1. I grew up in Cleveland Ohio and my dad had a job. Still, times were tough and money was spent very wisely, if at all. If we wanted toys, we made them ourselves. If we wanted gifts to give, we made them ourselves. Our clothing was made from feed sack cloth. (I look at that vintage fabric sold at quilt shows with great amusement.We were expected to work both at home and outside. My brother delivered newspapers and I babysat. One summer I pulled tassels in a cornfield.
    We owned one pair of shoes for school and church. To keep them nice, most time was spent barefoot.
    I think soon you will have a whole quilt from that one book!

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    1. Julie, thank you so much for sharing your story. I wonder if making toys and gifts when you were younger helped to make you the creative person you are today.

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  2. I have read "The Persian Pickle Club" many times and it is one of my very favorite books (I really don't know why though). It will be fun to read it again and to keep track of your blog to see what others think. You have really made my day!

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    1. Welcome, June! We're so happy you'll be joining us! The Persian Pickle Club is one of my very favorite books, too.

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  3. My mother was born in 1932 to my grand-parents who were tennant farmers. One of the stories they used to tell about my mom was told and retold by her oldest sister. She was about four when her sister (16 years older) and her husband stopped by. When her brother-in-law complimented her on her "new" dress, she pulled him down close and whispered, "It's not new, it's from the Relief."

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  4. I have downloaded the book to my ereader and I don't have a lot of reading time, but I am really enjoying it. Now to get busy choosing fabrics and blocks. Oh my, that last thing I need is another quilt to work on. hehehe
    Thanks so much for all your efforts on our behalf in presenting this book club.

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    1. Thank you, DJ! I'm so happy to have you join us.

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  5. To answer your question, my parents, grand and great-grandparents were all farmers and when I was a child I remember seeing one Grandma wrap her feet in layers of newspaper before putting on rubber boots to go feed her chickens, during winter. Something she undoubted learned to do during the depression.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing this story, DJ. I bet your Grandma did learn that during the Depression.

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  6. Both my parents were children of the depression and as such, we often were the recipients of habits formed during that time. Of course, one can't help but embed these hairs within themselves as well. My father lived on a farm in southern Manitoba, Canada and my mother lived in a small community in mid to northern MAnitoba where her father was a forest ranger. Both had the necessities of life and their lives didn't change that much because of the depression as it was similar to depression-era life at the best of times. Bartering was a way of life for both families as was growing your own food and the subsequent canning and difficulties of storage, such as was discussed in the book. There are many stories about having only 1 pair of shoes and they were for school and sunday with hand-me-down clothing, blankets that were "made from rags" but were not quilts. I remember very distinctly receiving a homemade wooden closet with wire hangers for dolls clothes for Christmas, made by my grandfather.
    hmmmm, will have to research the effects of the depression in Canada. I don't recall haring about it like we did from the USA.
    My parents both recall their childhoods with happiness and love, so as such, were probably untouched by the effects of the depression era.
    I remember reading a story as a very young girl about a girl who was given a quilted skirt made from all the scraps from clothing to wear to a spelling bee event. he remembered her grandma talking about one special patch and the spelling of "Mississippi" which she received as a word to spell. She fingered her patch as she recalled her grandma spelling Mississippi for her. Now whether I remember the book because of the quilt or the fact that she was able to associate something to a quilt path, I can't say. But the book remains with me in my memory til today.

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    1. Shirley, thank you so much for sharing your parents' experiences. My parents both grew up during the Depression as well. They grew up on farms so always had enough to eat. I've heard my mother say that since everyone around her was in the same situation, they didn't feel poor. And they would both describe their childhoods as happy and loving, as well.

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    2. My great-great grandfather left Pennsylvania with his wife and nine children in the late 1870s to settle in Jewell, Kansas. My great grandfather, the oldest of his children stayed behind. I could find no record of why he left Pennsylvania, but we believe it was the lure of cheap farmland made available by the railroads to settle the territory. My great grandfather, who lived to be 100, stated late in life that he wished he'd move to Kansas as well as the farming was easier and better there. A few years ago a photo appeared on Ancestry.com that turned out to be a picture of my great, great grandfather and his entire family on the porch of his Kansas home. The event was a family reunion of some sort. It was the first time any of the family back home had ever laid eyes on them. I contacted the descendant who published the photo and thanked his profusely. We have continued to correspond ever since giving me a real link to the past. Bonnie

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    3. Bonnie, what an amazing story. The internet has enabled family members to find each other in my family, too. My mom connected with family in Sweden via the internet. A few years ago, she and I went to Sweden and met the branch of the family that did not immigrate to the U.S. They had kept letters sent from America from our branch of the family. So incredibly amazing!

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I love hearing from readers. Your comments make my day!