Women of War Quilt (80" by 82")

Click on a scene to see an enlarged version of the scene and read Jewell's story notes. To see the embroidered background images CLICK HERE

  women of war

I, I-A: The Efficiency of Death 
There were belts with handles, so the guards could move the bodies. "We were pushed into the chamber to be gassed... But the chamber was only half full - this would be waste, so we were spared."

II: The Comforts of Home
An English housewife, upon hearing that Americans liked corn on the cob, boiled some - with the husks on - all day for her dinner guests. "If these men are as touch as the food they eat, we're going to win the war."

III. A Knock in the Night
"After liberation, we 3 sisters (who were Jewish) went looking for our mother. We located the house, but waited until morning to knock on the door. A knock at night meant that you were to be taken."

IV. A Uniform Statement
American army nurses working in Hawaii in 1943 were sent World War I wool uniforms!

V. In Fear and Darkness
German children were hidden in potato cellars for fear that the Americans would shoot them.

VI. A Window on Surrender
The first American soldiers to come through the town - white sheets hanging in the window meant surrender.

VII. Song of Survival
A Japanese prison camp in Sumatra. Dutch, British and Australian women sing instrumental music. They survive.

VIII. Sweet Surprise
Nazi propaganda had warned that Americans would rape girls and kill babies. Anna, a 5th grader was with her baby brother, Fritz, when she saw an American tank. She closed her eyes in fear. When she opened them, Fritz was covered with Hershey bars.

IX. Hunger
Children in a Japanese prison camp on Sumatra await a meal of kang kung (a leafy vegetable) and a few teaspoons of rice.

X. Life's Lesson V
"As a school girl in Germany I saw a child and nurse bum to death because of an Allied bomb on a tar-covered road. When I got to school the nuns beat me because I could not remember my lessons."

XI. The Wrong Direction
"When the Russians invaded Poland we sold the wrist compasses as watches. They were ignorant. It was out little revenge."

XII. The Red Cross
During World War I, burning Russian soldiers‘ papers to save them from the Bolsheviks.

XIII. The Irony of War
British children drowned in the Atlantic when their Canada-bound ship was torpedoed.

IV. The Golden Door
"When American war brides entered New York Harbor most of them cried. "

Why Jewell Wolk made a quilt about women who have survived a war.

I remember that as soon as WW2 was over we were inundated with foreign brides. I kept thinking, 'How could these girls marry the enemy,‘ forsake their homeland and families, after all we had done to their country. I started out with those close to me. There was the redheaded German bride, the Japanese bride, and the Korean bride who was used to dirt floors and refused to diaper her babies. I made a practice of getting to know these ladies.

I soon found myself looking for women to interview. They showed me the great difference between women and men on the issue of war. For men it is romantic, and adventurous. For the women who are caught up in it means telling your children they aren't hungry, or aren't ill simply because there is no food and no medicine to help them. The end of the war or the cease-fire is still heartaches away for her as she looks for her family, food and shelter. The woman’s side of the “glories” of war needed to be told. There are 13 stories on this quilt.

For Events, Storytelling or Quilt Show Exhibitions contact Storyteller Jean Wakely
jeanwakely@gmail.com    507-663-9085
Registered with the Montana History Museum, Helena, MT