When Joanna Sieberg was beginning to pack her things, she realized that she had acquired quite a few T-shirts. The local author and historian has been a regular participant in the Bataan Memorial Death March each springat White Sands Missile Range. She participates in memory of her father, Charlie, who was a Bataan Death March survivor. Sieberg has completed 15full 26.2 marches and 2 14.2 mile marchesat the range between Las Cruces and Alamogordo. Every time, she received a T-shirt for herselfas part of the registration. She often also bought one for her husband, Jerry.Sieberg decided to move to Albuquerque this fall, but she wasn’t sure about what to do with all those T-shirts. Her good friend, Mannie Bemis, said she had an idea. “She asked to borrow the shirts. She came back a few weeks later with three quilts and a pillow,” Sieberg beamed. “She and I were out walking right after she decided to move to Albuquerque,” Bemis recalled. “As we were walking, she commented on all the things she needs to dispose of before her move. Along the way, she asked, ‘What am I going to do with all those Bataan shirts?’”“Without thinking, I blurted out, ‘You're going to let me make them into quilts for you and your kids!’” Bemis said. “And with that, I was committed to making T-shirt quilts for Joanna and her two daughters.”One of the quilts has Joanna’s name on the bottom. The other two are designated for Joanna’s two daughters, Stacey and Shannon. All three (and the pillow) were sewn together using Sieberg’s plethora of Bataan T-shirts. She also kept a fewspecial shirts. Both of Sieberg’s daughters have participated in the Memorial March with her, as has Bemis, who marches in memory of the employees of Carlsbad Caverns National Park who were also Bataan survivors. “She told me this was a way of saying thankyou,” Sieberg said, gesturing at the quilts. Bemis said this was her first experience making a T-shirt quilt, so she turned to the internet for advice. She found a tip at a web site, of all places, called “Man Sewing.” Shecut the shirts into pieces, utilizing the designs for the large pieces, and strips from the back and sleeves for the border pieces. Each piece then had to be stabilized with iron-on interfacing to keep the shirts from stretching.
After piecing the top together, she needed to put the pieces together, which consisted of thequilt top, the inner batting, and a piece of material on the back.“Traditionally, this was done using a large frame that held the entire quilt and the sewing was all done by hand--a very laborious process,” Bemis shared.“Pioneer women would all gather together to work on one quilt at a quilting bee. By workingtogether, the women helped each other and made a social event of the tedious job.”These days, a quilting machine makes things easier. Bemis said her friend, Glenda Sauer, offered to loan her machine.“She and I worked together. Her husband, Steve, madea pantograph--a pattern--for us to follow. Ajob that would have taken weeks to do by hand was done in a couple of days. Once the quilting is done, all that remains is to sew binding around the edges. I had one square left over, which I turned into a pillow sham.”Sieberg is a 2013 retiree from Carlsbad Municipal Schools. She has been active in the Southeastern New Mexico Historical Societyand authored a book about her father’s experiences as a Bataan survivor. Shesaid she’s moving to Albuquerque to be closer to family.“I’m really going to miss my friends,” she said. “I’ll miss walking up C-Hill. It was great for training purposes. I’m going to miss my involvement in the historical society.I’d been really looking forward to setting up the Jed Howard library so the public could utilize it.”The 2020 Bataan Memorial March was cancelled due to COVID concerns. Joanna says she hopes to participate again in future marches. She also plans to return to Carlsbad when a Huey helicopter is installed at the Carlsbad Veterans Memorial Park.