Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Olympic Connection

A few weeks ago, you may have seen my tutorial on drawing the Olympic Rings.

I have finally quilted mine and got a bit more information on the connection I have with the Olympics through my grandfather, Russell Slocum. More about the quilt below.

This photo (my grandfather is on the far left) is likely the 1927 Glendale High School, California relay team for the 4x100 yards with the best record of the day. Coach Hayhurst is in the vehicle. Frank Wykoff is on the far right.

My grandfather and Frank each regularly ran the 100 yard and 220 yard dashes and participated in the relay. My grandfather used to say that they would trade wins in these races often and never bought his own shoes--they were always given to him. My mother has shared that his 8th grade record was done barefoot. The best online records are on and focus on Frank's wins, but fun to know that my grandfather was in that league of runners in his prime.

Taken in February 1928

In 1928 at the southwest Olympic Tryouts semi-final in Los Angeles my grandfather, I believe is 2nd from right, placed 5th in the 100m. He was then invited to continue on to Harvard for the U.S. Olympic Tryout finals. My grandfather made the trip by train and was predicted to not be far from the front runners, but pulled a muscle in warmup or a preliminary heat and was then out of consideration.

Frank went on to win gold in the relay at the Olympics in 1928, 1932 and 1936.

My grandfather maintained his friendship with Frank for many years.

Here are a couple of shots of my grandpa actually running. Foremost runner in this photo.

So, a few details about the quilt.

I decided that since it was the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam that my grandfather competed in the tryouts, that I would include that date, and the year I made it, in the quilt. This year the Olympics were in London, so used the fonts from each Olympics respective signage.

In the lower left is Amsterdam 1928, and in the lower right London 2012. I also included my 'signature' after the 2012. I usually do it the other way around, but thought that was an easy way to incorporate it in this particular quilt.

Top center is an image of his face taken from photos in the 1927 - 1928 time period that I have tried to quilt the shadows so that you get the effect of his face in the quilting. It was only a dream for him to compete in the Olympics, but it was a special place in his heart.

Top right is a quilted image of him running, and the top left is the Olympic 'icon' used to represent track and field.

I did laurel or olive leaves like a wreath around the rings and added a few feather like figures in the lower corners and between the 3 rings on the top. All figures are outlined to help them 'pop' against the background stipple.

The olympic flame is at the bottom center.

And a backlit shot, reversed in photoshop....for fun!


  1. Congratulations on your finish. I do enjoy reading about your grandfather and am sure your family treasures those memories.

  2. An Awesome quilt! Truly a memorable labor of love! I loved all the pictures of your Grandfather and the connection storyline.
    Have a great day.
    Always, Queenie

  3. What a wonderful post. Absolutely wonderful. This story needs to be shared. I want to chat with you to see how I can help. It is so special. Your Grandfather was an amazing athlete, and at such an interesting time in history. What a wonderful tribute you created through through your quilt.

    Great job. This is an heirloom quilt and story. What a treasure.


  4. This is really great history. I didn't know he did this running in his youth. I just knew about the boeing job down south. You did a fantastic job on the quilt. Thanks for sharing.

  5. What a fabulous story and an equally fabulous quilt!!

  6. What an awesome quilt!! I love that story. And the personal details in the quilting are amazing.