Quilters stitch for Sept. 11 victims
Donna Wolf remembers the morning of Sept. 11 all too well.
“It was my mother’s 80th birthday and she was on board a flight to California to visit me,” said Wolf. “I’d heard about the what had happened in New York and the first thing I thought was, ‘Oh my God, is mom alright?”
Shortly thereafter, at 7:30 a.m., she received a phone call from her mother who was frightened, but safe, as her flight had been grounded in Denver.
Meanwhile, across town, Elizabeth Baker watched in disbelief as the twin towers collapsed on television right before her eyes.
“I was dumbfounded,” Baker said. “It was unbelievable. I couldn’t see how this was actually happening.”
Later, as stories unfolded about all of the firefighters and other emergency personnel that had lost their lives in New York, the tragedy hit even closer to home for Baker, the mother of a firefighter in Hayward, Calif.
Today, a year later, these two Truckee residents – avid quilters who work together on neighboring sewing machines at Donna’s Stitchery – have chosen to honor the heroes of 9/11 the best way they know how, with quilts.
“There’s something extremely comforting and healing about quilts,” Baker said.
Baker is one of several hundred quilters across the country to have put her fabric, thread and needles to work for the American Heroes Quilt Project.
The project aims to provide each of the families of the 400 or so fireman and police officers killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center with an individual laptop size quilt.
“I chose a fireman, namely because of my son,” she said.
Baker’s four delicate “friendship” stars featured on her quilt in red, white and blue were taken from Eleanor Burns book, Stars Across America.
After more than three months of work, Baker recently shipped the quilt to New York, where it will be delivered to the family of Lt. Gregg Atlas of the New York Fire Department, Engine 10.
“I wanted to do my part to comfort these families in any way possible,” she said.
While Baker will likely never meet the recipients of her quilt, Wolf’s is planning a trip to hand-deliver her hero quilt in October.
“My heroes are Ed and Zetta Pilch, a couple from Iowa that took care of my mother on the day of the 11th,” Wolf said. “When my mom was grounded in Denver, she was scared and alone. That’s when she met this couple, who gave her a cell phone so she could call me. Then, they all went to a hotel and when my mom asked if they’d gotten a room for her, they said no – they’d all be staying in the same room, together.”
The next day, they helped Wolf’s mom, Betty Beck, find alternative mode of transportation to Truckee so she could be with her family.
“My heroes are these two complete strangers who took care of my mother in such a horrible time,” Wolf said. “It’s amazing how this day really pulled us all together and helped us to remember things about ourselves and each other that we’d long forgotten.”
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Olympic House was empty but for some maintenance workers and all those ghosts.