Class of '60 Quilt has Alumni in Stitches

Date Issued: 07/15/2010

Whether or not every member of CMC’s Class of 1960 was “homespun” during their college years, they are now––thanks to Kristin “Kris” Cadagan, wife of Jerry Cadagan ’60, who recently handcrafted a 4 1/2-foot by 6-foot quilt incorporating photos of all the alumni pictured in the yearbook.

The quilt, which will be on display in Collins Dining Hall for a semester or possibly longer, took Cadagan nearly four months to make (about 50 hours total) and comes with an endowment of more than $20,000 in pledges to a scholarship fund, promised by Class of ’60 alumni during the their 50th reunion dinner in May.

So, why a quilt? The idea, the Cadagans says, is tied to the history of a CMC social club––the Tortugateers of Prado Dam––that Jerry Cadagan belonged to. According to Jerry, the Tortugateers have occasional reunions and have established a scholarship fund at CMC.

“At their last reunion I made a quilt that was auctioned to raise money for the Tortuga Scholarship Fund,” Kris says, noting that Tortuga is Spanish for ‘turtle.’ “I had bought some material on a trip to the British Virgin Islands that I turned into a quilt with a turtle theme. The Tortuga auction was such a big hit that we decided to do something similar for Jerry’s 50th class reunion.”

At the reunion in May, the quilt was displayed at the class dinner and “auctioned,” which was actually a call for pledges or contributions to the Class of ’60 Gift, the Cadagans say. About 22 class members that night pledged a total of $22,000, with the understanding that the quilt will be prominently displayed on campus for at least the next five years. To render everyone’s photo on the blanket, a professional print shop enlarged and scanned all of the yearbook pictures onto special fabric. When that was done, Kris Cadagan used her sewing machine to individually frame each picture with plaid fabric, “which we thought matched the ’60’s era,” Kris says. “I also had the 1960 graduation program and Tony Arnold’s wonderful, contemporary drawing scanned and included on the quilt,” she says. The border of the quilt is in CMC colors, and the backing is made with Route 66 material––a nod, she says, to the familiar ‘get your kicks on Route 66’ lyric that the Tortugateers happily relate to.

At the reunion, every attending member of the class signed his picture with a Sharpie. “There’s no one famous in the Class, so the autographs don't add monetary value, just a nice touch,” Jerry Cadagan jokes.

Class of ’60 members love the idea of the quilt; a fact confirmed by the 100 percent participation in the auction/pledge. “The ladies in my quilting class were also very impressed with the magnitude and final quality of the product, and were really impressed with the fact that it raised $22,000 for Jerry’s alma mater,” Kris Cadagan says.

It wasn’t until 2004, when the couple moved from the Bay Area to Sonora in the Sierra Nevada foothills, that she says she started quilting. Her first projects were completing old, unfinished quilts passed down by relatives. “One thing led to another, and I have now done about 50 quilts over the past six years, many for our four adult children and six grandchildren,” Kris says. “I attend a weekly class of similarly-inclined ladies, and all of us are constantly working to improve our quilting skills. As Jerry says, ‘It keeps me out of the bars.’” What’s impressed her about CMC’s Class of 1960 is the camaraderie among its members.

“They really seemed to enjoy each other’s company, and at times,” she says of their 50th reunion, “it seemed like they were simply picking up where they left off after graduation. I was also impressed,” she says, “with how all the wives seemed to enjoy their spouses’ classmates, and how tolerant they were, hearing the exaggerated stories of the ‘good old days,’ time and time again. It was really a great weekend.”