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08/23/2011

Victoire

Since I wrote about my love of quilting last week, I wanted to talk about my mother-in-law Victoire. She was from Belgium. She came to America to marry my father-in-law Clarence. Clarence was in the merchant marines and he met her there in Belgium and asked her to marry him and come to America as soon as she could.

She almost didn't make it over here. When she and Clarence were dating, Clarence asked her to the movies and she wanted to go to one and he wanted to go to a different one, they decided to go to his, luckily, because the other one was bombed by the German's. They would have both died. She has a lot of stories about the war. My daughter recorded her stories, thank goodness before she died a couple of years ago.

Vicky's dad was the chief of police and their family lived in a compound with all of the other police families so that it was safe for all of them. She said that one day all of the wives got together and went to a real fancy hair salon and got 'American' short haircuts. She said that she hid under the table to see his face when he got home from work. Her brother and sister giggled. They all thought it was cute. Her dad didn't think it was funny and he was really mad.

Vicky's Grandpa was part of the army that would go around in Belgium looking for bombs that the German's planted on bridges. The last day before the war was over he found one near their town and it exploded while he was dismantling it. She said her Grandma never got over it.

Vicky had a scar on her knee. She and her brother were walking home from school and a plane flew over them and he was shooting out of the plane, her and her brother ran under a fence for cover and she ended up cutting her in the knee. She said she was so scared.

When she was growing up in Belgium she went to an all girls school. The classes for the girls were mainly focused on being a successful wife and homemaker. She said that they took a lot of craft and sewing classes. They learned how to crochet and knit. They crocheted all of their curtains and bedspreads. Vicky's mom, Maria, had a set amount of crocheting that she wanted her and her sister Louisa (sounds like Sound of Music-they were born before the movie) to finish every day after school before they went out to play. Vicky said that she was always behind because she liked to ice skate more than stay at home and crochet.

Vicky said that her mom was an incredible dress designer. Vicky, her sister and her Mom would go to a movie and her mom would sketch the dress the movie star was wearing in the movie and she would go buy the material after the movie and when she came home the next day from school the dress would be done.

When Vicky came over here to Reedsburg, and married Clarence, she moved into an apartment over a nice elderly couple. She didn't know hardly any English and she wanted to learn how to cook. She was really excited about it. She bought all of the ingredients with Clarence's help. He left for work and she measured out everything and then it said 300 strokes (before mixers girls) and she wasn't sure what that was, but she knew that she had neighbors that she could borrow strokes from. So she went downstairs and asked if she could borrow 300 strokes. The neighbors laughed and laughed and they never let her forget that day as long as she lived there.

Later on her and Clarence moved to Madison and she worked for Nedrebo's making all of their garments. She also worked for Woldenburg's as a tailor. Schenk Huegal and Midwest Uniforms finished out her career as a seamstress.

So, when she retired she could do the fun stuff. That was quilting and knitting. She was some of my missing pieces in the mother department. There was a Russian (?) male ice skater who died young and we both just happened to be watching the interview with his wife and she called me on the phone and we were both crying so hard we could hardly talk. I finally connected to another woman. It was an important milestone in my life. My very favorite time, though, is when we would stay overnight at her house on Friday nights and wake up to apple fritters on Saturday morning. So much nurturing. She was truly a gifted quilter, master knitter and an incredible cook. She taught me so much about sewing. And I love and miss her very much!

  

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