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EP277: Selling Her "RedHead" Wine to Walmart, Life Lessons From A Dairy Farm and I Admit It, I Sew Quilts

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 25, 2022 3:05 am

EP277: Selling Her "RedHead" Wine to Walmart, Life Lessons From A Dairy Farm and I Admit It, I Sew Quilts

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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April 25, 2022 3:05 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Marisa Sergi tells the story of how she pitched her "RedHead" Wine that is now in over 150 Walmart stores! Listener and Contributor, Katrina Hine, shares a personal story from one of her first jobs out of high school entitled “Cow Patty“. Long time listener, Paul Bauer from Minneapolis, MN., tells us why he sows quilts.

Support the show (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)

 

Time Codes:

00:00 - Selling Her "RedHead" Wine to Walmart

13:00 - Life Lessons From A Dairy Farm

38:00 - I Admit It, I Sew Quilts

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Hi, this is Jem. And Em from In Our Own World Podcast. Michael Duda Podcast Network and Coca-Cola celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with empowering voices like Rosalind Sanchez. My childhood was in Puerto Rico. I moved to the States when I was almost 22 years old. I have so many dreams. I have so many ambitions. And I've been so blessed to be able to come to this country and little by little with hard work and discipline.

Check that list. I have many things that I want to continue doing and accomplish. But I was just a girl with dreams from a little island in the Caribbean. Listen to He Said, El Adijo Podcast hosted by Rosalind Sanchez and Eric Winter on the I Heart Radio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by Coca-Cola, proud sponsor of the Michael Duda Podcast Network. Hispanic Heritage is magic, baby. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories. And we tell stories about everything here on this show, including yours. Send them to OurAmericanStories.com. They're some of our favorites. And this next story is brought to us by Alex Cortez, who recently went to a fascinating event called Open Call, where Wal-Mart opens their doors to over 500 entrepreneurs to come to their headquarters, what they call the home office in Bentonville, Arkansas, and pitch their American-made products to get into their over 11,000 stores.

And it's a part of Wal-Mart's commitment to buy an additional 250 billion worth of American-made products over a 10-year period. And Alex now brings us the story of an entrepreneur he met there. Marissa Sergi is a redhead. I think the color of our hair gives us a platform to embrace our true selves. So being able to have that stigma in the public eye that we are these sassy firecrackers that are forced to be reckoned with gives us the ability to really meet our full potential and be fun and quirky and not be ashamed of it.

Because we already have the reputation, may as well meet up to it, right? And as you can probably guess by now, Marissa is. She started a wine company appropriately named Redhead at the age of 19, which you'd probably think is illegal to drink wine, let alone to sell it.

But not in her state of Ohio. If both of your parents consent, you are legally allowed to have a drink. I've been drinking wine since day one, to be honest. My grandpa Sergi would give my sister and I thimbles full of wine. And my mom hated it.

She would complain and just scream, oh my goodness, you can't do this, she's only like four or five weeks old. And my grandpa Dominic Sergi said, if you don't like it, you could pay for babysitting. And my mom stopped complaining. But hey, winemaking is in my blood, figuratively and literally. I grew up in a very Italian-centered family. And my grandparents immigrated here from Italy over 40 years ago and brought over the tradition of winemaking. So growing up, I always had lots of family and friends coming in and out of my grandparents' house drinking wine and eating food just like they were one of us. And it was definitely something that inspired me to carry on with the family tradition. My grandpa passed away. I was only two years old, so I don't have any memory of him. But I'm able to embrace his memory through making wine.

My father, Frank Sergi, he founded the winery where I work at called Lulabella Winery. It was just a label to start. I wanted to design a fun label after doing market research, just looking what labels appealed to me as a young person, not of age.

But I knew labels were very important, so that's why I created Redhead Wine to have a very appealing label, yet having a high-quality wine to match the packaging. And I was able to get a winemaking degree from Cornell University called Viticulture and Enology. Which some people might think is a joke of a program. I mean, you're already doing enough tricking in college as it is. Do you really need a major in it? You know what?

Yes. I love when people tell me that because the number one most failed class at Cornell University is the wines class within the hotel school. It's because people come in there and be like, oh, I'm going to drink wine all day, get an A, and peace out. Well, when you fail and you can't get your diploma, it is a big deal.

It is a lot of wine chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, vineyard management, plant science, gen chem, advanced chemistry, organic chemistry, wine chemistry one, two, and three. You can't just walk through the winemaking major at Cornell University drunk for the next four years. You know what I mean? You've got to pay attention.

You need to know your stuff or at least get help if you don't know what you're doing. I was a classic college student not paying attention in my class, and I was texting and checking my email. And I received an email that if you are a student entrepreneur and had a product or an idea to come to a meeting to receive free wings over Ithaca, best wings in Ithaca. I love hot wings.

They're very expensive. So I was a broke college student. So I was like, I'm there.

I don't have a business. But I had redhead wine. I happen to have a bottle with me on campus. So I was like, I'm hungry.

I'm going to check it out, get some wings and leave. Hopefully no one will notice me. But then I forgot I have red hair.

I stand out. I also had a bottle of wine. So everyone was like, oh, wine, how cool. And then I piled my wings very high on my plate. And then one of the professors running that meeting was like, if you're a student entrepreneur, you must give an elevator pitch at this meeting. It's like, crap.

I can't leave because everyone knows I'm here. So I didn't even know what a pitch was. I Googled wine industry facts, slapped something together, didn't completely fall on my face in front of 100 people that were there. And two days later, I received an email from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences that I was nominated as the Student Business of the Year for my college. I was like, OK, I'm not a business owner. I don't know how to even pitch a business professionally at a competition.

But here we are. I did not win the competition, but I learned so, so much. I learned how to pitch a business professionally.

All the business terminology that was really important to communicate when it came to costing and your market strategy, product market fit, target market, all kinds of stuff. I just was a winemaker with an idea. So after graduating college, I moved to Modesto, California, worked for a winery out there.

Got about a year of experience. And I was like, OK, I'm 22 years old. I'm single. I have kids. I'm just going to see if I can make this dream a reality. I packed up my bags from sunny California, moved 3000 miles back to my childhood bedroom in Ohio, and became a bootstrapped, unglorified entrepreneur to launch Redhead.

I knew I didn't want to be 80 years old on my rocking chair, drinking some gin and tonic one day. You're like, I wonder if I did it. So here we are. It's happening.

It's getting real. And when we come back, we continue with this delightful voice. And it's Marissa Sergis.

And she is the founder of Redhead Wine, based in Youngstown, Ohio. Her story continues here on Our American Story. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of $17.76 is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to OurAmericanStories.com now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming.

That's OurAmericanStories.com. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCMedicareHealthPlans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop. But for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot.

And I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So, if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try All-Free Clear Mega Packs. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs.

Which my family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So, the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that All-Free Clear Mega Packs, they have your back. Purchase All-Free Clear Mega Packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we're back with our American stories and with entrepreneur Marisa Sergi's story. The year was 2017 and she'd heard about an opportunity to pitch her Redhead wine to Walmart and their open call event. I was checking email, the Young's Talent Bus Incubator sent me the application and I was like, wow, I have no chance. But I was like, the answer is always no if you don't ask. And I crossed my fingers, sent in the application and I found out a few weeks later I was flying to Bentonville, Arkansas.

So, I was excited but nervous because I knew there was a once in a lifetime opportunity. When you pitch Walmart, it's important to understand how to work the best with Walmart and analyzing what's the benefit for them and how you'll bring them value. You can't just pitch your product and talk about your product and who you are and your business and how it's going to work.

You need to think about who you're talking to. You need to provide as much value as possible and the product sales will come later. So, I had a marketing professor from YSU help me analyze Walmart stores to see what percent of the market I could capture if they gave me a test market. And I believe that really showcased that we did our research. We understand we can't just drop a product on their shelf. Who's going to buy it?

What current Walmart customer is going to purchase the wine type of thing? And that really helped us a lot. I took a deep breath and just walked in there with confidence. Sometimes you've got to fake it until you make it. But the buyers were so kind and really interested. When Walmart invites you to an open call, they want to work with you. Even if you walk away with a no or a maybe, there's still a chance. They want to make it work because they're interested in your product.

They wouldn't be inviting you here to waste your time. But I really wasn't sure if it was a yes, so I asked them, Hey, is this a yes? And they said yes. And I was very, very grateful for that. And when I walked out of the buyer meeting, I felt like I had an out of body experience.

I couldn't believe I pulled it off. I couldn't believe they said yes to Redhead Wine and allowed me to have an opportunity at my dream by creating a wine brand that could potentially be shared with the whole country one day. So the first person I called was my grandparents. The first people I called were my grandparents, and they were very excited.

And it was nice to share that excitement with them. And I put the boots on the ground and started hitting the pavement with sales. I'm a winemaker. I make the wine, but part of my test market, I had to pitch every single manager or department lead to get them to OK the product.

And then I would be able to sell it there. As many as I wanted in the state of Ohio, but I knew I could only handle between 30 to 60. So we capped it at that. I didn't want to bite off too much that I could chew because you have to deliver on time in full. You've got to keep your commitments. The minute you're not honest in any business setting is the moment that you lose all of your potential and credibility. So that's something I really tried to emphasize when I was trying to pitch and grow the company. What was most important was the sell-through rate. Are you meeting home offices, minimum sell-throughs? Just the number of units that you're selling per week, per month, per quarter.

Are you having a great reputation? Are customers giving good feedback and looking for your product? And 60 stores later, a year and a half in the future, we received modular space. You have a permanent shelf position reserved for your product and your product only. So that is the most prime possession you could have as a supplier, that you can't be kicked off the shelf by other competition. The home office has that little reserve sign for you with that tag, their price and UPC on it. And it's really cool to see on the shelf now.

It just happened a couple months ago. A small town, 25-year-old winemaker with zero budget survived a Walmart test market with just true grit. Just going, showing up, asking questions. How can you serve this store better? What can we improve on? How are sales?

You have to have those conversations. Just because you're in Walmart doesn't mean you're set. There's a lot of work and responsibility that goes along with having this opportunity. It's pretty incredible that Marissa raised no money to start her business and she's now in Walmart. Zero. To be honest, I don't even care.

I'm going to keep it very real with you guys. In two years, I've only spent $5,000 in marketing. It's just being honest, customer relationships and putting my best foot forward. I think that's really helped because I am the winemaker, third-generation winemaker. It's what I love and I think my customers resonate with that because there's a lot of brands out there and some of the stories are not true. They're just made up just to target a market.

Redhead was made because I was hungry for hot wings and I had a bottle of wine with me. That's the real deal and I think that's why it's succeeding because I never overthought it. I just was in the moment. We employ about 40 people total at the company and we have hired at least six new additional employees due to a Walmart open call. So we're very grateful to be able to do that, especially in Youngstown, Ohio. I know a lot of our job losses have been in the public eye. Like GM Lordstown closed, we lost 1,700 jobs. Over 40 years ago, the steel mills closed, we lost 40,000 jobs. So being able to be from Youngstown, Ohio while creating a California-quality wine by buying the California grapes while keeping the jobs in Ohio is super special to the area. Although we're only hiring a handful of people compared to GM or the steel mills, it's exciting to know that we're at least affecting one additional family.

Maybe two, three, four and we want to continue to do so. Just really grateful for the opportunity to have a partnership with Walmart. They've impacted not only my business but many in my community and of course the entire United States.

They've committed to invest over $250 billion back in the U.S. economy over this 10-year span that they plan to have open call. And due to research, that's going to create over 1 million jobs for our country and that's something that everyone should be grateful for every day. So really happy to be here. At Walmart open call 2019, 25-year-old Marissa was invited to speak before the 500 entrepreneurs hoping to get into Walmart stores at this event as she did. Ever since then, I've been paying it forward because I'm just so grateful and want to help others. And I think that's why Home Office invited me to speak here and be kind of a supplier on the inside helping everyone feel comfortable and confident to pitch.

Just realizing everyone's human. Just be honest, be real, be yourself and I think that's the moment that you can really succeed and do what you're sought out to do to make your dreams happen. Marissa only wished that her grandma could have been there to see how her sacrifice has paid off in Marissa's life. She is absolutely amazing. She only came here with a suitcase and a dream to give the future generations of the Sergi family a better life. So I work so hard because I don't want to waste her sacrifice. I wish she could be here today just to see what it's like to be at a retailer like Walmart and to see what I've been able to take from all of her sacrifices to be able to be one of the speakers this year at Walmart open call.

It's just something that I never imagined would happen, but I'm here and I'm going to embrace every moment. Her name is Michaelina Sergi, but her maiden name is Valentino. She absolutely loves wine. She's one of those traditional grandmas. You're making meatballs, homemade pasta.

You've ate at least three platefuls of food, but you still have to have more and have dessert and espresso. It's a real deal. So she loves any type of wine and she definitely enjoys Redhead Redblend. And you've been listening to Marissa Sergi, and she's the founder of Redhead Wine based in Youngstown, Ohio.

Marissa Sergi's story and Walmart story and entrepreneur story to hear on our American story. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCMedicareHealthPlans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners, too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100 percent free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs, which my family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that all free clear mega packs, they have your back.

Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we continue with our American stories and up next, we have a listener story from Katrina Hein. Katrina has contributed to our show in many ways, but this story is a personal story from one of Katrina's early jobs out of high school entitled Cow Patty.

Here she is with a story. As a child, I had the good fortune to have grandparents that lived on a farm in southeast Kansas near a little spot in the road called Bartlett. The highlight of my summer and the best memories I ever had growing up were on that farm. In fact, some of my earliest memories were of the old dairy barn behind the house that was surrounded by colorful hollyhocks and wild roses. No one can explain it to you, but for those of us who are familiar with dairy barns know that one of the best smells on a farm is in that dairy barn. Besides the recycled grass, of course, I remember walking into the dairy barn on chilly mornings and being met by the whirring of the milking machine, the warmth of a pot bellied wood stove and the mixed scent of sweet feed, milk and bleach.

The rhythm of the milkers and the radio playing Hank Williams in the background could almost rock you to sleep. My Uncle Vernon, an old bachelor, moved back to the farm when I was a teenager to run the dairy, and he named all the cows beautiful Hollywood sounding names like Betty and Esther, Dolly and Clara. We never were quite sure about Uncle Vernon. Each morning I was met with the sound of a farm report from the local KGGF radio station, the smell of biscuits baking and bacon popping and the hiss of the old coffee pot. Granddad Bandzitt was always up before the sun and never ate anything less than biscuits and white gravy, several pieces of bacon, two eggs and coffee liberally sweetened with overflowing tablespoons of sugar.

By the way, he lived to be 99 years old. First thing each morning, Uncle Vernon would carry in a bucket of fresh milk still warm and straight from the cow. Other than a little speck of dirt and some cow hair, it was wonderful.

Grandma did skim off the dirt and she would blow the cream back while she poured the milk into a little pitcher on the dining room table. Jump forward several years, I was out of high school and somewhat ambivalent about what I wanted to do. I had worked summers at the local Sonic while I was in school, but I really preferred to be outside. After graduation I worked in Estes Park, Colorado, first on a dude ranch and then later at the Lazy B Chuckwagon dinners and show for that first summer out of school. After those summer jobs had ended and I headed back to Kansas, I knew I didn't want to go back to work at the family hardware store. So I searched the area papers and found an ad for a female dairy hand near Coffeyville, Kansas. This is exactly what I wanted to do because I loved farming.

I got the job on the spot and started immediately. The dairy was much larger than my grandparents little 30 cow operation and the equipment was state of the art automatic milkers. The owners had wanted to hire a woman because the man before had beat the cows until they were too afraid to come up to the barn.

And when they did, their milk production was low. This was also the same year that Jim Stafford's song, Cow Patty, came out on the radio. Little did I know at that time how Cow Patty would apply to my new job. My first challenge was to get the cows comfortable with coming up to the barn. I found out real quick that the pasture where the cows were kept was huge and chasing them around every day took a lot of time.

There were 155 head of Holsteins and about 4 Guernseys to add just the right amount of butter fat to the milk. So I decided to try something. I would whistle. Every day that I went out to the pasture to bring the cows up to the barn, I would whistle. I would whistle the same thing every day until I found out that they were paying attention. Finally, a few weeks later, I was able just to stand at the back door of the barn and whistle as loud as I could and here they would come.

The winter that year was particularly harsh with below zero temperatures, frigid wind and freezing rain. The cows would slip and fall on the hard ground and sometimes we'd have to use a front end loader to raise them up back on their feet. No one ever said milking cows was glamorous or easy but there were times that it went to the extreme rather quickly.

I hate to admit this but sometimes I do silly things and one very cold day I did a humdinger. We had just let some fresh heifers into the main herd and this was a challenge in itself because they had never been milked before and their udders were small. The milk parlor was designed to prevent the cows from kicking you in the head with a long piece of sheet metal running parallel to a raised concrete floor.

The cows would run up the ramp onto the raised concrete and stop in front of the movable grain trough about four feet above the main floor. I had all the cows run in and I noticed that I could not see the udder of one of the cows. I had got all the other cows going and hooked up to the machines and then proceeded to try to feel around for the udder on what I assumed was a fresh heifer.

I just remember thinking this girl is really long-legged. I can't reach her udder. Impulsively I stuck my head under the sheet metal to see where to hook the milker and got two very big surprises. The first was that it was not a heifer but a young steer and the second was a huge hot pile of green gritty manure on my head. Normally I wore a ball cap but not that day and the hot mess of green grass and sunshine almost burned my head.

Let me tell you that stuff was hot. So in a rush I grabbed the water hose and tried to get the green mess that was the consistency of wet sand out of my long hair. I got part of it out but what remained was equal to smelly hair gel.

The other factor I had not considered was that it was nearly 10 degrees below outside and I still had to go get another group of cows, blade the lot and then feed the calves. Needless to say my hair froze solid, not flat on my head but partially standing up in a green grainy appearance. And of course of all days the boss decides to come in and notices that something is amiss with my hair.

We chat for a couple minutes with him staring at my hair the whole time but then he finally decides to leave and then turns around to me and says, I should ask but I don't think I will and he walks out just shaking his head. It took a couple days of hard scrubbing to get that gritty mess out of my hair so it wasn't so stiff anymore and not quite so fragrant. The lesson I learned that day on the dairy farm is don't stick your head under a cow's tail to find its udder because you might just come up with quite a shock and some free hair product. And a great job on the production by Faith and the editing and a special thanks to Katrina Heine for sharing her own personal experience with early work life in rural America. And anyone who's grown up on a farm is around farms or barns. I spend a lot of time in barns and I have a lot of poop stories too. You actually get accustomed to it. You don't even smell it over time.

Of course, unless it falls on your head live and hot. What a story. What an experience.

She will not stick her head underneath a cow's tail anytime soon. A special thanks to Katrina for sharing that story. We do dog walker stories in New York City and well cow poop stories on farms. Everything here are now American stories to share with you the rich and varied life of Americans in this great country.

The story of cow patty Katrina Hines story here on our American story. Music Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65 you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare.

Helping people live healthier lives. Music I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop. But for small business insurance I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot.

And I stay cool and confident. See they're small business owners too so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious. And there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done.

I mean that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life. Try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients.

Compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin. Which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs.

Which my family we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp. Or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes. Just know that all free clear mega packs they have your back.

Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. Music And we continue with our American stories. And our next story comes to us from a listener Paul Bauer. A regular contributor out of the great white north Minneapolis Minnesota. Here's Paul with a story he's entitled I admit it I sew quilts.

Music I think most of us have seen them. Beautifully colored squares of fabric sewn together by hand into various patterns. Transforming into a magnificent homemade quilt. My grandmother made one for me. Old pajamas that she had cut up and sewed into a lovely quilt. My church has a quilting club. And each year the friend of deities put on their hard work on display and sell them at our church festival.

Making these fine works of arts seems like the perfect hobby for older women with lots of time on their hands. While it is fair to refer to me as old a woman would be a stretch. I'm six foot six inch 250 pound 59 year old man. It is not uncommon for a complete stranger to ask me in passing whether I ever played football or basketball. No I would tell them I was a hockey and baseball player back in the day. But not once has a single person ever come up to me big fella and asked if I sewed quilts. But it's time for me to admit it I'm no longer going to keep it a secret. I do in fact sew quilts.

Yep a handful of years ago I made my very first one and surprisingly I became hooked. But I don't want to get ahead of myself. Sewing quilts was the last thing I ever imagined I would be interested in doing. I'm always on the go. I'm horrible at sitting still. As much as I enjoy watching a football or baseball game I can't sit still long enough to watch a complete game.

Sitting in front of a television for that long is not for me. But nowadays I can sit for hours and hours in front of a sewing machine working on my latest quilt. How did this come to be? It came by chance seven years ago when my father-in-law Ron passed away. It was time for Joan, my mother-in-law, to go through Ron's belongings. She came across his collection of t-shirts. Ron loved classic cars. He owned a 1962 Corvette that he restored.

Ron enjoyed going to classic car shows and mingling with the other car lovers. He started a tradition of buying t-shirts at each of the stores he attended. When Joan started cleaning out dresser drawers she didn't know what to do with all these t-shirts. Ron was a big man and Joan figured his shirts wouldn't fit anybody in the family other than me. I didn't want to disappoint her so I said, sure, I'll take them. I knew I would never wear them.

Classic cars are not my thing. But I graciously accepted her gift. The shirts were, after all, a nice reminder of my father-in-law. Later that summer I attended my niece's high school graduation open house. There, hanging on display in their garage, was a quilt made of the various school sports jerseys my niece wore over the years.

It was unique and inspiring. Aha, I said to myself, I now know what to do with Ron's t-shirts. I will turn them into a lovely quilt and surprise Joan, gifting back to her the t-shirts that she gifted to me with a slightly different twist. I mentioned this idea to my daughter, Katie. Katie learned how to sew from our neighbor, who was an avid sewer working full-time at a local fabric store. She invited Katie over to their house now and then and taught her how to use a sewing machine. I asked Katie if she would teach me the basics so I could sew these shirts together for Grandma. She was surprised at my interest in learning to sew, but she thought I had a good idea. So she said, sure, Dad, I can show you how to sew.

I don't know if you have the patience for it, but we can try. So that night I went to her local Joanne fabric store and I bought myself the cheapest sewing machine they had. This was only a one-time deal. This machine only had last me one quilt.

And then I would store it away or give it away, never to be used by me again. Katie set the machine up for me, showed me how to thread the bobbin and the needle, which was not an easy task for these big mitts that I own. Finesse, that's not my strong suit. She showed me how to put the two pieces of fabric together face to face and using a quarter inch seam allowance, how to start my project. I did lots of practicing on scrap metal and once I felt I had the system down, I started on Ron's t-shirts. They were starting to come together. I could see a few flaws and the lines were not perfectly straight, but I had my first row done, three shirts, side by side, separated by two inches of maroon fabric. When Katie came over, I probably showed her my progress. Look, my first row is done!

Unable to hold back my excitement. Katie examined my work and to say she was not impressed would be putting it mildly. Dad, she said in a tone that only a daughter could have, you have no idea what you are doing.

You have a good idea of gifting this to grandma, but why don't you just pay someone to do this for you? This looks horrible. I was taken aback, shocked by her blunt review of my hard work. I sat there for a few seconds, putting my ego in check, and thought about it a bit before responding. Perhaps she is right. I am indeed out of my comfort zone and the start to Joan's quilt is a little bit sketchy, I had to admit. But then I responded, Katie, I said, you are right.

I could pay someone to make this for grandma, but I don't think it would mean as much to her. I think she would like it a lot more knowing I made this for her, flaws and all. I am not so sure Katie was convinced, but I was. In my mind, I knew I had a good idea and I was determined to see it through.

I ain't no quitter. The next day, when I started working on Joan's quilt again, I realized Katie did me a huge favor with her honest assessment. She provided me all the motivation I needed to put this quilt together for Joan.

The competitive side and me kicked in. Not only was I going to finish this for Joan, but now I was determined to show Katie I could do it as well. I gave myself some more time to practice and then started back on the quilt and before I knew it, my first quilt was finished. Yes, it wasn't perfect, but I think it looked pretty darn good and as with most gifts, it's the thought that counts. Joan was indeed surprised, but she loved it and to this day, she has it on display in her living room, draped over the back of her sofa. Mission accomplished. I put that cheap sewing machine away, never to be touched by me again.

Out of sight, out of mind. A couple of years later, my son Tim passed away unexpectedly. This time, it was me who came across drawers full of t-shirts.

Tim's two children, my grandkids, were ages 8 and 2 at the time. I didn't want them to forget about their daddy, so my next two quilts were born. T-shirt quilts for my grandkids with an added twist of photos I printed out with them and their dad, enhancing some of the squares. I started getting this t-shirt quilt making down and I have to admit, each one was getting a little bit better than the others. I was getting the hang of this sewing thing. I started enjoying it so much that I began looking for additional reasons to make my next quilt.

I volunteer some of my time at a local assisted living center and in doing so, I got to know some of the residents quite well. Don is a resident there who became my weekly cribbage partner. I learned how he had a Harley-Davidson and he loved to ride motorcycles back in the day.

He was even a member of a motorcycle club in Montana along with his friend, Ivo Knievel. So one day, I went to a nearby Goodwill store in search of Harley-Davidson's t-shirts. I found a few that I knew would work quite well on his quilt along with a Harley-Davidson leather jacket. Perfect! I purchased these and cut them up, sewing the shirts together along with the pockets and zippers from the jacket and I gifted these to my good friend, Don.

His surprise and his smile, that was priceless. But I still only knew how to make the basics at this point. So, I stopped into my local Joanne fabric store and told the friendly lady at the sewing counter my latest idea and asked if she could show me how to sew a stitch that I had in mind. Sure, she said. She was eager to show me some of her tricks and shortcuts. She sat me down at her machine, showed me how to start and stop this new stitch and how to set it up on the machine.

Sit here and give it a try, she said. So I took her practice fabric and with my hands close to the needle, I started. But suddenly, I screamed, Ouch! And I pulled my hand away. The nervous employee yelled, Oh no!

Are you okay? Slightly, I said, Just kidding! And showed her my hand was just fine. At first, she gave me a mean glare.

But then a few seconds later, she had a big smile instead of with a chuckle. Nobody has ever done that to me before! Maybe there are not a lot of pranksters in the sewing community, but sometimes I can't help myself. At this point, I had run into a problem. My cheap sewing machine, while it lasted longer than the one quilt I had bought it for, was starting to act up.

It was breaking down. That Christmas, my daughter Katie, the same daughter who I love so much and who motivated me with her honest feedback, this precious daughter of mine surprised me and gifted me a sewing machine. Not the cheapest at the store like I had picked out, this one was much more advanced with many more stitching options. It's even digital and so much easier to use.

I almost feel like I'm cheating when I use it. As you can tell, I could go on and on, as I have made many others as well. Who would have thunk it?

Me! 6 foot 6 inch Paul Joseph Bauer, maker of quilts. That has a pretty nice ring to it, and it is a badge I now wear with pride. So anyway, next time you meet a stranger who's built like a middle linebacker or a tight end, and you aren't sure how to break the ice and start a conversation, perhaps rather than asking if he ever played football, you could ask him if he sells quilts!

Imagine you're surprised if he responds with a resounding YES! And he begins to describe the various quilts he has made, and how he has found an enjoyable way to spend cold Minnesota winter evenings in front of a fancy sewing machine rather than in front of the television. And a special thanks to Greg Hengler for the production on the piece, and thanks to Paul Bauer, a regular contributor in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

And my goodness, the image of a 6 foot 6 gentleman wandering around a Joanne's, for himself and probably alone, is worth the price of that story. And by the way, I admit it, I love to iron. I'll iron my clothes, my wife's clothes, my wife's mother's clothes, my daughter's clothes.

I'll iron the cat if it's possible. The story of Paul Bauer's sewing passion here. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives.

What up, it's Dramos. You may know me from the recap on LATV. Now I've got my own podcast, Life as a Gringo, coming to you every Tuesday and Thursday. We'll be talking real and unapologetic about all things life, Latin culture, and everything in between from someone who's never quite fit in.

Listen to Life as a Gringo on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. Hi, I'm Ebony Monet. And I'm Rick Schwartz. And we're here from the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

We're the host of Amazing Wildlife, a show from iHeartRadio that deep dives into the fascinating world of the animal kingdom and our conservation efforts through San Diego Zoo partnerships. So, Rick, I cannot tell the difference between a leopard and a jaguar. What sets them apart? Well, I'm glad you asked that. And honestly, it is challenging to be able to tell them apart at a glance, especially. If you want to really get good at, here we go, spotting the difference between a leopard and a jaguar, remember those cluster of spots those leopards have? All episodes of Amazing Wildlife are available to stream now on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcast, or wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for watching!
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-15 16:04:17 / 2023-02-15 16:22:25 / 18

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