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Landing Quilters comfort the community

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By Rog Patterson

A recent visit to the pioneer settlement in Barberville prompted my interest in sewing crafts. So I touched base with “Eddie” Mock to learn more about our Marion Landing Quilters and also received some input from Jan Doudna and Fran Szutar along the way.

This quilters group idea tumbled out of conversations between two Marion Landing woodcarvers more than a dozen years ago. Discovering their wives enjoyed making quilts, Hayden Jones and Frank Szutar decided the ladies ought to meet each other.

Elaine Jones and Fran Szutar did, and got together with neighbor Jan Woodruff to begin a round robin quilt. This project involves each person doing a portion of the quilt and passing it on for the next person’s addition and so on to completion. No one knows how the finished quilt will turn out.

Their project and the results were so much fun these three women became the nucleus of the Marion Landing Quilters.

Today, Eddie said, they can count on about 15 interested quilters who attend some meetings and 10 who are considered regulars. These women have scheduled “sew days,” usually on Saturdays, when “each member brings their machine and we cut and pin and sew all day long with a break for brown bag lunch,” according to Fran.

“We also have outings, going to quilt shows and quilt shops, and then having lunch afterward. It wouldn’t be a Marion Landing thing if there wasn’t lunch or some kind of food involved,” she said.

Members also hold teaching sessions where new members are introduced to quilting a table runner or full size quilt. Fran continued, “We walk folks through the entire process from helping them select materials to the final stitch. Some people need more help than others but, in the end, each person has a finished quilt project.”

More advanced class topics range from esoteric subjects such as “stack ‘n whack,” also known as kaleidoscope pattern, and paper piercing, which is stitching through a paper pattern that’s torn off the work afterward. Or even more intriguing investigations of machine quilting (as opposed to hand sewing) and table runners.

One year, the group did a “sampler,” which requires a different quilting technique to make each block before assembly into the completed quilt.

Quilting takes time, and how much time depends on the complexity of the pattern, the size of the finished quilt and even how many other projects a quilter has going on at the same time. You can machine quilt or hand quilt – both are legitimate skills, with the latter, of course, taking longer to accomplish.

So, after quilters have made quilts for themselves, family members and friends, what do they do? Each year, Landing Quilters come up with a charity project and make baby or lap size quilts — and they give ‘em away.

The group donates from 15 to 20 quilts every year to various organizations. Sheriff’s deputies are provided with a quilt to carry in their patrol cars to comfort children when they must be picked up from abusive homes. Others have been given to fire departments for use by families of burned out homes.

Another recipient, Sheltering Arms, also provides their temporary young guests with a donated quilt that immediately becomes something a child can call his or her very own. And the Marie Aigrette Home for Unwed Mothers has recently been added to their list.

Elaine, Fran and Jan’s legacy still provides today’s Marion Landing Quilters with a great way to enjoy making their quilts and knowing they’ll be used to comfort someone in need.

Vassalli’s Voluminous

Venetian Victuals

Tomorrow afternoon Marion Landing will again be treated to Dan Vassalli’s “way past being famous spaghetti feast” at the Lifestyle Center. Entertainment will feature the Four in a Chord barbershop quartet, consisting of ladies from Belleview, Ocala, Summerfield, and Marion Landing. Our own Sharon Talbert has accumulated a quarter century of barbershop warbling experience and will be singing tenor with the group.

Volunteer of the Month

Our Volunteer of the Month for January has been a Marion Landing resident for eight years and has really gotten involved with community activities. A long-time member of our Sunshine Committee, Vivian Waite serves on the executive board, co-captains one of the memorial luncheon teams, is a back-up for “telephone tree” community announcements, and also authors the committee’s monthly reports in The Communicator newsletter.

Yet she still finds time to play golf, bridge and bocce each week, and has been a member of the Marion Landing Patrol for many years. Vivian is a great example of what community volunteers are all about.

Breakfast With the Trotters

Many years ago we attended harness races at Roosevelt Racetrack back on Long Island each summer, admiring “the totters” and often wondering where the teams and horses spent their winters. It so happens the largest winter training facility in North America for these beautiful pacers pulling their driver on a two-wheeled sulky is a mere 64-mile drive east of Ocala at Spring Garden Ranch.

Why take the trip? At 11 a.m. every Tuesday morning, from January through May, qualifying races sanctioned by the U.S. Trotting Association get underway just footsteps beyond the door of Kelli’s Restaurant. There’s no admission charge, but you’re advised to make reservations for breakfast or lunch, so phone 386-985-3865. Also ask for a weather report ee no races when it rains.

If you get there for early enough for breakfast, you might be seated on their patio overlooking the track. But bring along folding chairs anyway; you’ll still be sitting nearby to watch the action.

Drive out Hwy. 40 to Barberville, over the railroad tracks and turn right on Hwy.17. About six miles down the road, just before DeLeon Springs, watch for the Spring Garden Ranch sign on your left. Another 1.2 miles or so down that road will bring you to the ranch entrances on your right. Use gate 3 to the restaurant parking area.

More than just training practice, these race results form driver’s and horse’s permanent records required to qualify for races held at para-mutual tracks like Roosevelt or Saratoga Springs and elsewhere on the summer circuit up north. And don’t forget to bring your camera.

Spring Garden Ranch is a seriously big place, 148 acres encompass both the 1-mile and a -mile track with 18 barns, 650 stalls plus blacksmith and harness shops, groom quarters and a veterinarian. From a turn-of-the-century diary farm, the Charles Coon family began creation of this training facility in 1949.

The only larger operation in the world is at Paris, France, and that one was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte. If you’d like more information, visit www.springgardenranch.com, or call 1-877-985-5654.

Rog Patterson is a Marion Landing resident and Friendship Kiwanis member. Contact him with news for the column, he’s in the Landing phone directory.