Quest in Roots:
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THE RED CROSS
Brookdale and surrounding districts have always been very supportive of the Red Cross. Not too much information is recorded of the work done during the First World War, but it is known, that the ladies pieced tops and made up many quilts. When patch bags in the area were depleted, material was sent out from Winnipeg headquarters and quilt making continued. One or two quilts per week were made, the quilting being done in the Masonic Hall, station house waiting room or in homes. Many ladies knitted for the Red Cross and worried about how to finish the sock with the kitchener toe. They knitted at meetings and some even took their knitting to church. School children in some places hemmed khaki handkerchiefs for the soldiers.
When the Second World War broke out the Red Cross was reorganized in the district. Supplies were sent out once a month from Winnipeg to sew or knit. The ladies learned the grafted toe for the socks. This time the school children were knitting squares for afghans and wristlettes.
Sewing was sent out from Winnipeg already cut out to be put together; children''s clothing, men''s shirts, pyjamas and hospital gowns were perhaps the most common articles needed. Each bundle contained all the pieces to make up one garment. These were cut out in quantity, many thicknesses at one time, so often the pieces were not true to pattern and were difficult to fit. There were few ifany instructions, usually a sample garment, so it was a puzzle as to which part went "where". One lady at Ingelowmade up six pairs of boys'' knee pants received in one shipment. Being experienced in making pants for her own boys she was able to sort out the pieces.
Then there were the quilts, the ladies were each asked to make a couple of blocks every two weeks and these were put together and quilted in the Masonic Hall or later in the basement of the church. The backs were of bleached flour sacks which some would take home and wash, usually someone who did not sew or quilt. They also had material given to them and several ladies would gather on an afternoon and piece a quilt top. Then I suppose as attics began to be cleaned out of usable materials they started to send scraps from head office to be put together for quilts, sending the bats and backing as well, and just the work was done locally.
The need for knitted articles and sewing continues and now the Red Cross send out wool and sewing to be done and a large sale is held in Winnipeg each year sometimes raising as much as $10,000. This money is used to buy the needed supplies for the places requiring help. Due to the high cost of transportation they were no longer shipped overseas. Used clothing is still needed for local disasters.
Many people worked for the Red Cross in this area, as well as the hand work there was always a yearly canvass, but for the last several years the United Way covered this. Some of the ladies helping in the early years were Mrs. Doughty who looked after the knitting and saw to it that everyone knew how to graft the toe of the sock smoothly.
Mrs. W. Harris, Mrs. J.P. Lawrie and Mrs. B. Dodds taught the method of putting the quilts on the frames on the square. Mrs. R. Chisholm showed how to sew the seam straight on the garments. A place was always left for a left-handed quilter on the corner.
Many more ladies of the district took an active part in the Red Cross over the years, Mrs. Hazel Taylor looked after the sewing and knitting and Mrs. S. Mikkelsen was secretary for many years.
In the war years we received Red Cross pins as mementos for doing Red Cross work, then in 1977 Mrs. Elsie Davies and Mrs. A.W. Moffatt were honored for their years of service at a gathering in Minnedosa with certificates of merit.
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