Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Tom Swan’

Julia Swan’s Quilts Tell a Story

Traditional would not be a word that describes Julia Swan or her quilts. Julia has been a community minded lady all her life and helped introduce many new ideas in the area. It wasn’t until after the children had all left home that Julia seriously worked on quilting. She tried a few of the traditional patterns but found that she enjoyed making her own creative designs instead.

Angels of God quilt used mother’s handkerchief collection.

Most of her quilts have a story behind them. The Angels of God quilt began with dying the fabric to look like Marc Chagalla’s sky. Louis Palmer, art professor at Muskingum College, helped her arrange the background of angels, which were made from folded handkerchiefs that her mother collected.

When they walked around the fabric, Palmer noticed a godlike figure had appeared in the fabric so Julia used it as the focal point and highlighted it with quilting. The halos for the angels were lace doilies. Their faces were originally to be white until Julia accidentally dropped them in her coffee cup then they had many different skin shades.

The Exhibition quilt contained pictures drawn by her grandchildren.

The Exhibition, more a wall hanging than a quilt, is a collection of three drawings done by her grandchildren when they were three or four years old. These looked like modern art to her eyes! When Julia’s children were young, they had bunny fur jackets so she used some of that fur for the coat of the lady in this wall hanging.

The Many Faces of Liberty represented Ohio in a national quilt competition.

During a Statue of Liberty contest, each state had a quilt chosen to be displayed in New York City. Julia’s quilt, The Many Faces of Liberty, was chosen from Ohio. The face on each Liberty figure was created to represent the people of many nations who have immigrated to the United States. To personalize the quilt, one face has red hair since nearly all members of the Swan family have red hair.

Ohio Barn quilt appeared in Ohio University’s quilt show during Ohio’s Bicentennial celebration.

Pride in family continues as Julia and her granddaughter Anna have combined efforts to make a book of her quilts, Julia’s Quilts “Through the Eye of a Needle,” so the family will always remember their meaning. Her granddaughter is a Delta pilot but not doing much flying these days.

Tom and Julia enjoyed family fun with their four children.

Julie met Tom Swan, the love of her life, at Muskingum College and they settled in Cambridge where Tom had his medical practice and Julia was busy raising four children. At that time Julia was busy giving Red Cross swimming lessons, which were free to all children in the area and volunteered at Hill ‘n Dale Girl Scout Camp.

During this time, Julia enjoyed knitting and made sweaters, mittens, and scarves for everyone in the family. She made needlepoint pillows for almost every chair in the house. That artistic side of her just couldn’t stay hidden. The family enjoyed performing together, hiking, and camping.

Broad Stripes and Bright Stars has been marching in area parades for 45 years!

In 1975, Julia was instrumental in developing what some called a Marching Flag but what the ladies of their bridge club called Broad Stripes and Bright Stars. That first parade was the Bi-Centennial Celebration in downtown Cambridge when the ladies donned their flag sections and marched with the tallest on the side toward the stars going down to the shortest on the other end.

Julia recalled that no mechanical transportation was permitted in that parade so everything was drawn by horses. That made for some careful stepping with the white pants and white shoes of the flag ladies.

This group still marches today in most Veterans Day and Memorial Day parades. There are still two of the original in the group and two daughters of original members have continued the tradition.

This picture was taken at their first parade in 1975.

A special project that involved quilting took place when the Hospital Wing she was a member of decided to hold the Daffodil Luncheon. Al Shore from New York City brought clothes down for modeling during the early years. For about thirty years, the wing members all did a square of a daffodil quilt, which raised money for the hospital through chances sold.

The Swan family supported the Salt Fork Ats & Crafts Festival from its beginning and provided, among other things, a puppet show that children loved and still remember to this day.

Julia uses her picture at a Dickens scene for her Christmas card each year.

Julia enjoys going downtown and visiting with the Victorian scenes on Wheeling Avenue during Dickens Victorian Village. Each year she has her picture taken with one of the scenes. One year she was wiping the coal dust from the face of one of the coalminers with her white handkerchief.

Granddaughter Anna and Julia get creative with ceramics.

Writing letters to friends is also something she has always enjoyed but today she writes wearing a glove to help protect her fingers. Her letters are still filled with positive thoughts and humorous stories in spite of the difficulty with writing. She encourages friends with her motto for living, “Life’s much more fun when you enjoy reading, art, and music. Learn to enjoy each day.”

Playing golf has been one of her favorite pastimes for years.

She even creates cards for her family. On Valentine’s Day, her card included a picture of one of her quilts and this verse:

Come to the gallery along with me

Such pleasures there are yet to be

Admiring these quilts of mine

Together with my Valentine.

Julia still stayed very busy up until the recent pandemic. She has a strong faith in God and enjoys Bible study and sings in the choir at her church. Being a volunteer at the John & Annie Glenn Museum also has given her great pleasure over the years. She is currently part of the planning committee for the 100th John Glenn Celebration scheduled for this summer in Cambridge and New Concord.

Family fun in the great outdoors make for a pleasant day.

Every day is a special adventure for Julia Swan. She doesn’t feel that all the wonderful things in her life have been merely coincidences but part of a bigger plan. She tells family and friends, “Be open to God’s surprises.”

Tom Swan Captures the Spirit of the Story

storytelling

Tom immerses himself in “Three Billy Goats Gruff” at the Salt Fork Festival.

There’s a secret to storytelling and Tom Swan has discovered the magical way to tell or read a story and make it come to life. Children listen closely as he tells his tales and even adults are drawn into his stories.

   Years ago Tom listened to the Minnesota Public Radio Show, “A Prairie Home Companion” as Garrison Keillor read “Tales of Lake Wobegon”. He read with such expression that Tom decided he would like to try telling stories too.

National Storytelling Festival

Tom’s daughter, Aili, and mother, Julia, accompanied him to the National Storytelling Festival.

   In order to get some first-hand experience at listening to great storytellers, Tom and his family have attended the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN several times. Here, all that is permitted to tell a story is a mic and a stool.

blue hair

Aili is with her dad, who wanted to surprise old college friends in Colorado so dyed his hair blue.

   People don’t understand how entertaining stories can be if they are told with enthusiasm. Stand-up comics and one-man shows depend completely on capturing the audience through expression. Too often readers and storytellers simply read, and that’s just not enough to seize and keep the attention of the audience.

Children's Moment

Tom continues the Swan Family tradition of performing with puppets.

   To tell a story well, the storyteller must bring back to their mind why the story is important to them. All stories are not fun; some have a poignant or nostalgic theme. Tom practices telling stories while driving his car. Most important is to memorize the first line. Once you get started the rest just flows into place.

   Usually, he has an outline in his mind so the major points are covered. When he writes the story down, it’s usually after he has told the story to a group. His first storytelling adventure was with the Zanesville Christian Women’s Club where he recited the poem, Cremation of Sam McGee, in a meaningful manner.

Installation as state president of the doctors' wives' club

The kilt reflected his Scottish ancestry when he was inducted as president of the Ohio Doctors’ Wives’ Club.

   Tom is married to Dr. Linda Swan, an obstetrician at Genesis Hospital in Zanesville. As a result, Tom has become very involved in the National AMA Alliance, which he calls The Doctors’ Wives’ Club. He has been state president and involved nationally in their organization.

Roasted Leg of lamb and kosher salt crusted new potatoes

One of his favorite dishes to prepare is roasted leg of lamb with new potatoes and red wine.

   Tom has led an unusual life as a housewife. Now, however, his children are adults with his daughter being in medical school and his son a State Trooper. So today he lives the life of a trophy husband when he isn’t out telling stories to places like The Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival, Dickens Victorian Village, the Celtic Society, and various schools and churches. This man loves a mental challenge.

Buckeye 4 miler

Physical fitness is important in his life. He wore a kilt when participating in the Buckeye            4 -Mile Run.

   Tom grew up in Cambridge, Ohio and graduated from Miami University, where he majored in zoology and was a cheerleader. Since his father and grandfather were doctors, it seemed that he might follow in their footsteps. But Tom really didn’t enjoy the studying required to be a doctor so decided to become a high school science teacher, which he did for seven years.

Auctioneer

As auctioneer at the AMA Alliance in Chicago, he helped raise money for community health grants.

  Frequently, he has participated in Community Theater in Cambridge and Zanesville. Handbells are something he has also played over the years and still participates in a great handbell choir at the Grace United Methodist Church in Zanesville.

Sermon on the Mount

He let his hair grow long to portray Jesus giving the Sermon on the Mount.

   Dedicated to fitness training, Tom decided to learn the Sermon on the Mount while bicycling. He then decided that he would like to portray Christ giving this sermon so Tom let his hair and beard grow so he would better fit the image. It is of great importance for a storyteller to get into the character he is portraying. He presented this program in several area churches.

Trixie

Tom donated his hair to Locks of Love after portraying Trixie.

   While his hair was long, Tom also decided to dress as Trixie with heels and a short skirt. When he was working with the Doctors’ Wives’ Club, he auctioned off the opportunity to take pictures with Trixie and raised quite a bit of money for their projects.

Judas back from the dead

Tom likes to tell all sides of the story so portrayed Judas returning from the dead.

   The role of Judas coming back from the dead was also a fulfilling role that he portrayed. Here Judas asked that he quit being terrorized as he was sorry for the betrayal. It ends with a warning to the audience not to be like Judas.

Chainsaw carver

Tom showed his artistic side by this chainsaw carving of a 10′ bear.

   Tom gave a bit of good advice to himself and others who find themselves overwhelmed with tasks and commitments. “Learn to say NO to anything that is neither necessary nor meaningful.” That’s great advice from a man who also likes to spend time with his granddaughter.

Baked Alaska

This Baked Alaska proves to be a popular dessert with the Swans.

   A favorite story of Tom’s is “Selfish Giant”, however, his favorite one to tell is “Three Billy Goats Gruff”. There he has fun using different voices to entertain children.

Queen Victoria and her royal bard

As a royal bard, Tom shared stories with Queen Victoria during Dickens Victorian Village season.

   Tom’s goal is to make a living telling stories. If you would enjoy having Tom tell stories at one of your events, you can contact him at lswan@columbus.rr.com.

With our Hardleys

Tom and Linda head off on their Vespa motorscooters, which Tom calls “Hardleys”.

   When Tom’s not telling stories these days, he enjoys riding motorbikes with his wife. He’s also been experimenting with making wine – from honey instead of fruit. Sometimes he adds a bit of cinnamon, cloves or orange for a different taste treat.

   No one can say that Tom Swan lives a boring life.

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