Notes: Friendship Album, 1933: Episode 11

In Episode 11, Bess eagerly awaits news of the birth of her first grandchild and worries about Helen, who brings home an unexpected guest in the middle of the day.

I had the oddest realization as I prepared to write this blog post — I’m older than Bess, who’s 49 (I’m 54). How can that be? I have the ages of all the characters written down somewhere … let’s see, Florence is 27 and Emmeline is in her mid-thirties. 36, maybe? Dorothy and Ella are in their early 50s. Wait a minute — that means that I’m older than all of my characters! So why do the elders of this tale seem so much wiser and mature than I am?

Well, times have changed, haven’t they? With the exception of Florence, all of the women had babies in their early 20s, which was typical for the 1930s. I was 34 when I had my first child, in 1999. So there’s that. Moreover, I didn’t get married until I was 30, so I had the sort of long adolescence that’s become fairly typical in our times. There’s no doubt that in my case, getting married and having children matured me (though that’s not the case with all of the parents I know!), a process that’s ongoing.

Still from the 1933 movie, “Stage Mother”

Like Bess, I have a child who’s a sophomore in high school; unlike Bess, I’m not on the verge of becoming a grandmother (in fact, I imagine it will be many years before I even get close), and I’m very happy to report my beloved husband is still very much with us. In many ways Bess’s circumstances are very different than mine — and yet in many ways she’s the character I feel is most like myself. Go figure!

As Chapter Twenty-two opens, Bess is considering her quilt design. There are a number of quilts entered into the Sears Quilt contest that inspired Bess’s design. Take a look at three of them:


Transportation Quilt by Elizabeth Skelly Fitzgerald


Clipper Ship, Maker Unknown


Century of Progress, Maker Unknown


See you next week!