Reunited Virginia Tech Memorabilia
This doesn't have a darned thing to do with fabric or quilting or anything else creative so you are welcome to skip it. This post is primarily for my family.
It starts decades ago with my paternal grandparents. In the late 60's they got divorced. It was a big deal because they were Catholic but it was the right thing to do for them. My understanding is that it took years for them to actually get divorced and there was long running animosity between them forever. We called them G-Ma and G-Dad so that's how I'll reference them here.
Fast forward to when I was in college around 1980. They both lived in Roanoke, an easy 45 minute drive from Blacksburg. I visited them from time to time and could always count on a fabulous meal from G-Dad. He made killer scalloped potatoes. My G-Ma and I would talk quilting. She is the reason that I made the Cathedral Window quilt.
I was visiting G-Ma one day and she gave me this charm. It was a charm that my G-Dad was given when he graduated from Virginia Tech in 1934. It was known as VPI back then. I think she gave it to me because I was attending VT at that time. I wondered why she had it and decided that I would take it to G-Dad the next time I visited him. I wore it and he noticed it IMMEDIATELY. He was very excited to see it and then gave it to me to keep. He said that what he really wanted was his "sheepskin". G-Ma wouldn't give it to him. I tried to get it but no luck.
Skip a few more decades to the trip that Mom and I took to Bassett a few weeks ago. When G-Ma died my brother got one of her bedroom sets. He came into the kitchen one afternoon while we were there and said "looks what I found under the mattress of G-Ma's bed."
(G-Ma had a habit of hiding things.)
I filled him in on the backstory and he gave me the diploma to frame and put with the charm. There's also a pretty well known photo of the football team from 1932. They were the best team VPI fielded until that time. The photo is from a game they played against undefeated and #1 ranked, Kentucky. VPI won! I first saw the photo in the Hotel Roanoke bar at my cousin's wedding about 15 years ago. Tim saw it at G-Dad's house after he died and tried to get a copy from his wife. No luck there either.
Here's the photo in a VT football book that I bought several years ago. G-Dad is 5th from the right on the front row. But how could I get a copy of that photograph?
Two emails to the Virginia Tech Football offices and 24 hours later I had a high resolution jpg of the photo! I sent it off to MPix and got a 20" wide print made.
The photo is actually very good quality but I took this through the glass and that's why it's blurry. He met my G-Ma while they were both in school. She was a student at nearby Radford. He was quite handsome and she was very pretty. They married and had 2 sons before the war and 2 after.
Today I picked this up from the framer and I am thrilled with how it turned out. I originally wanted the charm framed with the photo and diploma but that was an additional $300 on a frame job that was already expensive enough. The framer and I talked about the diploma and we both thought it was parchment but, being the nice guy he is, he called Virginia Tech and found someone who knows about the history of these documents and found out that it really is sheepskin! The wrinkles are from the way that G-Ma had it stored and they couldn't come out without damaging it.
While he was framing it I came up with the idea to hang the charm from the frame. That way I can keep the memorabilia together and still wear it occasionally.
Here's how I did it with 2 eyelets on the back of the frame. It will be easy to slip the necklace off any time I want to wear it.
For now it's hanging on the "college wall". There's Chris' gigantic UVA diploma, my small VT diploma, Chris' Naval Commission, G-Dad's diploma and a bunch of other college stuff. It may go hang in my brother's house at some point and will probably eventually find it's way to my nephew, his namesake.
G-Dad should be happy now. All of his college memorabilia is back together.
8/12/2016 09:16:14 am
What a lovely wall!!! Great story!
8/12/2016 09:54:58 am
What a nice story. Glad you were able to get the items and frame them. A great keepsake for your family. Interesting that the diploma was an actual sheepskin!
8/12/2016 05:23:25 pm
What a great family story. So nice to have your G-Dad's mementos all back together.
Becky in VA
8/12/2016 08:00:10 pm
Such a great story and you saved a piece of family history.
What a wonderful family memento - but even better is the story that goes along with it. Might I make a suggestion? Please consider printing a copy of your blog post and put it on the back of the frame for future generations to read. Many times these stories get lost over the years and it would be such a shame if this one did.
8/13/2016 06:00:28 am
what a lovely story. glad you persevered through the years and got it all together.
8/13/2016 08:01:24 am
That is a very interesting history of G-Dad and G-Ma. I agree that you should print the blog post to preserve with the framed memorabilia. And if anyone in the family is recording genealogy, they need a copy to add to the records also.
8/13/2016 08:34:22 am
What a beautiful story, and kudos to you for tracking down the photo and preserving it all for generations to come. G-Ma definitely had a stubborn streak, and probably forgot where she had hidden G-Pa's sheepskin, but fortunately your brother found it. Thanks for sharing this bit of your family history.
8/13/2016 11:43:20 am
What a nicely displayed collection of family history. I love that sort of thing. I once had a collection of photos of my fathers dating back to the 1800's, also on the stairwell wall. Now they are in a drawer because this "modern" house has no stairwell and very little wallspace. I miss them.
8/14/2016 11:55:17 pm
Thanks for sharing your memories and family history.
8/15/2016 08:55:37 am
It is too bad G-Dad didn't his diploma back before he passed, but it is wonderful that it is now in a place of honor. That was a cool solution to the charm necklace.
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I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.