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Legacies of Love celebrates cherished keepsakes

It was an afternoon of reminiscing and sharing for residents at the Cooperative Independent Living Center, as they took part in "Legacies of Love," a special event to showcase precious keepsakes the residents have treasured throughout the years. Each resident was asked to bring a favorite item of special significance to the center's community room for the event. The item could be anything they had created themselves, a gift they had gotten from a loved one, or even a collection.

Flanked with tables laden with quilts, afghans, shawls, hand-crafted baskets, and original paintings or drawings, the residents made their way to the front of the room, one by one, to tell the history behind each of their treasures.

Kathy Meland, who serves as manager of the Cooperative Independent Living Center, located at 1424 14th St. E, in West Fargo, came up with the idea for "Legacies of Love" last winter, thinking it would be a wonderful way to give the residents an opportunity to show off items they have tucked away in drawers or on display, adorning their apartments. Last year's event went over so well with the residents that Meland decided to do it again this year.

Leona Holtgard chose to show a quilt started by her grandmother and finished by her mother that she had been given as a wedding gift in 1946, along with an embroidered tablecloth made by her aunt. Minnie Graff brought a collection of dolls, including a button doll, made out of buttons and wooden spools; and a Yo-Yo doll, made out of circles of fabric. Her sister had sewn all of the doll clothes and some of the dolls.

Myrtle Nygard showed a pair of oval framed crewel Hummel needlepoint pictures that she made in 1987.

"It was a cold winter, and no one went anywhere that year," Nygard recalls.

Leora Hewson said she decided to get a minor in art in college so that she would have a skill she could use all of her life. Her oil painting of a rose, displayed on an easel for the occasion, is one of many of the paintings she has created over the years. Other artists in the group was Marilynn Starr, who displayed several acrylic paintings, including a split canvas scene featuring two women carrying red umbrellas, and Pearl Johnson, who had an entire booklet of drawings of landscapes and animals that she had sketched over the years.

Some of the more unusual displays included a framed glass etching owned by Betty Trom, birch bark baskets belonging to Irene Althoff, delicate metal Christmas ornaments collected by Jane Von Hagen, and a lamp and air purifier made out of a large chunk of salt, belonging to Toddy Spiekermeier. Spiekermeier also displayed a crazy quilt with colorful birds that she had made years ago.

Bessie Murray brought several knit and crocheted articles, including a beige queen sized bedspread she crocheted during the Great Depression. It took her over a year to complete the intricate stitches. Jean Tofteland had sewn a full-sized bedspread and a lap robe that she had made for her daughter, who is in a wheelchair. Madelyn Stringer had made a full-size floral quilt.

A ribbon embroidered vest made by Donna Soderquist in 1998 was embellished with flower blossoms and leaves embroidered with colorful ribbons. Fae Krueger brought a family tree quilt her mother had made in the early 1950s, with the names of children, spouses, and grandchildren embroidered on the fabric. In her spare time, she makes tie quilts to donate to the Linus project.

Elvina Mickelson showed one of 75 afghans she has made over the years. Michelson is in the process of sewing teddy bears to give to traumatized children.

Comments of praise and encouragement floated around the room during the presentation, revealing the tight bond of friendship that has developed between the residents. The Legacies of Love program gave the residents a chance to share a little bit about themselves with each other, and talk about their special interests and talents.

"I know they all have a lot of talent, and I wanted them to be able to share with others some of the things that mean a lot to them," Meland said.

Coffee and snacks were served after the program.