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A tea towel I found in a folded stack recently was quite a find – the contents of its design worthy of a conversation in any arena. The subject is obviously friendship – a valued quality. I spread the tea towel out flat on the floor (you can still see the creases) and took its photo. The quotes and their authors are repeated beside the photo as you won’t be able to read them all from the photo. How many of the quotes resonate with you? Did you recognise any of them? Perhaps one of them appeared in your autograph book or you wrote the words in the autograph book of a school friend.

Do young people still write in autograph books? Do you still write or receive letters? Perhaps from a relative or friend. My mother wrote to her mother, and received a reply, every week. I imagine this began when mum went to her first teaching appointment and I know it continued during her married life until grandma’s death. Although I can’t remember how it began, I had a penfriend with whom I corresponded during secondary school and beyond. My family and I visited Diana and her family in Taunton, Somerset (England) in 1965. I was sad when I lost contact with her some years later.

Many branches established links with the Women’s Institute (WI) during World War II as letters were sent with the butter, dried fruit, fat and other goods shipped to the United Kingdom. My branch, Meeniyan, kept the same link until the late seventies. The link WI, Cromer, is on the northeast coast of Norfolk. Our family also made a visit to Cromer in 1965. We all remember eating salmon for lunch at the President’s home. Australia has a penpal coordinator to link members in this century through the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW). There is a report at area and world conferences and always the opportunity to offer the hand of friendship through letter or email.

Do you have a penpal or is all your correspondence now electronic? Facebook and other forms of social media are so useful for keeping in touch with family and friends – or even finding out what total strangers are doing! One wonders how social history will be researched when there are no paper diaries, no letters, no notebooks and no autograph books. I am sure you do not ‘keep’ your online conversations and comments. Imagine someone, in the years to come, earning a PhD from researching the twittersphere!

All State Presidents receive letters. Some of them are delightful ‘thank you’ notes; some make one think; some are hard to decipher; sometimes they make one laugh; some evoke bewilderment, sadness or anger; and some are full of ideas. I received such a letter recently. Judy, the writer, is well known for ‘having thoughts’ and I think you would be interested in some of them.

Cakes for Computers is a suggestion for raising funds for IT and systems upgrades at Head Office. The catchphrase suggests donating the cost of an afternoon tea morsel. Your branch or group could use a similar idea to raise funds for other Association or community causes.

Exhibition Sock Festival is, as it suggests, a way to bring the State Exhibition to the attention of the public, as do a number of beanie festivals across the nation. Featuring a particular class or section as a festival could result in more interest in entries as well as increased attendance.

Letter Links to support people in drought areas, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland. This initiative could be coordinated through the Association and, perhaps, government sponsored drought counselling services such as the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS). My correspondent writes:

With the drought continuing in Queensland and NSW and parts of Victoria I feel some members might like to write letters regularly to those affected as it is nice to get a friendly letter in the mail. Therefore, could we instigate interstate penfriends or sister branches in other states?

If you are interested in developing this idea then please contact me at Head Office. As you can see, this paragraph prompted the discussion of this topic in my letter. I would be pleased to hear how your branch has developed the 2019 theme of friendship links. What good fortune to also have the photo of the friendship tea towel in my ‘to use’ file.

 

Linking hands in friendship…

 

Marion Dewar

State President

 

 

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet (Robert Burns)

A faithful friend is a sure shelter Whoever has found it has found a rare treasure (Holy Bible – Ecclesiastes 6:14)

Wherever you are, it is your friends who make your world (William James)

Make new friends but keep the old – one is silver, the other gold (Round – Traditional)

Friendship improves happiness and abates misery by doubling our joy and dividing our grief (Marcus Tullius Cicero)

Friendship adds a brighter radiance to prosperity (Marcus Tullius Cicero)

A friend is the present you give yourself (Robert Louis Stevenson)

Your friend is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving (Kahlil Gibran)