AT THE QUILTERS GUILD OF BROOKLYN MEETING SIX MONTHS AGO, MARINE PARK RESIDENT PAULINE PICONE announced that she and her husband SAM would be donating quilts to wounded soldiers at Walter Reed National Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. During the following months, numerous guild members contributed generously to the pile and on May 20, the couple took a total of 107 quilts on their road trip. Usually they ride their motorcycle; this time there was no way.
Picone and her husband were there for more than two and a half hours, much longer than their scheduled time slot, giving quilts to bedridden soldiers and smaller lap quilts to those in wheelchairs, meeting family members and listening to alternately heartbreaking and heartwarming stories.
“I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that they were so young,” says Picone about the soldiers. “They were mostly victims of roadside bombings in Iraq and a few in Afghanistan. Most said that they were there to do a job, and that when they are better they will go back, although I don’t know how soon that will be.”
Of the stories Picone heard that day, one young man’s particularly struck her.
“He had a blanket pulled up to his neck, so I couldn’t see anything, but his dad told me he had gone through 22 surgeries. He had calculated that was one every 5.3 days.”
Another soldier’s wife was expecting a child, so Picone gave the couple a second, smaller quilt for the baby.
“We told the men the quilts were made with prayers and thanks. They were very receptive. A few said, ‘Can I ask you a favor? Can I hug you?’
“I have done a lot of charity work, and this ranked up there with the most gratifying things my husband and I have ever done. These guys have a sundry of problems, but none were bitter. They seemed very concerned about others, upbeat, selfless. I cried with a few wives. It was very, very rewarding.” The Brooklyn College Library currently has an exhibit of 25 quilts made by members of the Quilters Guild of Brooklyn called “Stitch by Stitch: Works in Fabric.” The exhibit, open until August 22, reaffirms that quilting is indeed an art.
Guild members gather from dozens of Brooklyn neighborhoods on the third Saturday of each month (except summer), often in the basement of Holy Name Church on Prospect Park West. “It’s nice to be with people who have an obsession for quilting, because it is an obsession,” says Picone. “We have some very talented people, hospital VPs, professors, graphic artists, an array of occupations with a wealth of knowledge to share.” For more information about the guild, visit www.quiltbrooklyn.org.
IN OTHER NEWS:
A POSTER FOR AN 1897 BOXING BOUT in Brooklyn is among the artifacts on display in the “Fighting Irishmen” exhibition at Boston College’s Burns Library, we learned from The Boston Globe. Terry McGovern, who lived in Brooklyn from age one to his death at 37, dominated less experienced boxer Kid Dougherty, another Brooklyn resident, on May 22; the fight was held at the Greenpoint Athletic Club, according to www.BoxRec.com.
“Boxing was a way out of the ghetto, first for the Irish, then for African-Americans, then for Hispanics and also for the Jews. It was a way for people to improve their lot,” Burns Library’s director Robert O’Neill told the Globe. “People took great pride in the success of these boxers.”
The gem of the exhibit is the fabled but very real right arm of 19th-century Irish boxing legend Dan Donnelly, embalmed in red lead paint. Donnelly was immortalized when he defeated the English champion in 1815. This same exhibit passed through New York about two years ago.
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BROOKLYN NATIVE VIC HERSHKOWITZ, who learned handball on the playgrounds of depression-era Williamsburg and was considered by most historians of the game to be the sport’s most brilliant player, died early last week in Plantation, Fla., reported the New York Times. He won 23 national handball titles, and the United States Handball Association told the Times that Hershkowitz is widely considered “the greatest all-around player in handball history.” Hershkowitz, a New York City firefighter, was 89 at the time of his death.
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CANADIAN ARTIST PETER LEWIS is ticked that Mayor Bloomberg called Olafur Eliasson’s four waterfalls a historical first in a TV interview, because Lewis made one long ago, reported Metro NY. Completed in 1980, “The Edmonton Waterfall” along the High Level Bridge cost the artist $3.6 million, most of which he raised himself. Lewis says it’s still the “biggest piece of public art ever made in Western Canada.”
Army Pvt. DAVID A. AVILA and Army National Guard Pfc. GRIGORIY AGREST have graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C. Avila is a 2008 graduate of New Utrecht High School, Brooklyn; and Agrest of John Dewey High School, Brooklyn.