Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Long Time No See!

1978 RCC Swim & Dive Team
The other day I found a bunch of old photos including this photo from 1978. It is the Riverton Country Club Swim Team. I swam with the team for four summers until I was 15. I hadn't seen most of them in more than 35 years.

1981, I was 15 years old.
We were catching up on Facebook, mostly reminiscing about how much fun we had, peppered with inquiries about the whereabouts of old friends and news of a few who were not with us anymore. We didn't really go into what we were doing now, but I could tell there was a lingering question...

"What's the deal with all the quilts?"

Here's a quick catch-up for anyone who missed the last three decades. In 1989 I bought a quilt. It was only supposed to be one quilt, a great old quilt to make my future house a home. Over the years, I bought other quilts and used them to decorate the walls. Twenty years later, I had a lot of quilts, but no idea what to do with them all, so I started sharing them. People were interested, and soon, things started happening.

2011 - my first exhibition at Benton County Museum
2013 - my first feature article in Quilters Newsletter Magazine
2015 - my first book!
Fast forward to 2017, I am working on my third book. Quilts have toured internationally, appeared in publications globally, and I am preparing an exhibition for this summer at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum. The last three years have been a real whirlwind, but so have the last thirty.

I retired from swimming in 2009, a two-time USMS National Champion,
FINA Masters World Champion and USMS Long Distance All-Star

When I bid farewell to most of my childhood swimming friends, the internet barely existed and there certainly wasn't anything like Facebook. We didn't share our high school swimming experience since I went away to Peddie, and our teams did not compete with each other. I always wondered what it would have been like to stay closer to home and keep closer tabs on friends and teammates. Maybe I would've known where they went.

1980 RCC Swim & Dive Team
It was like reading a book and not getting to read the ending. I always wondered, especially when looking through the old team photos. Over most of the years, I maintained an involvement with swimming, and finally retired in 2009. During those years I always hoped to run into old teammates at swim meets. A few times, I did.

We're all grown up now, even the smallest kids on the team have kids of their own and I am thankful to finally see how things turned out for them. We lost a few friends, and we miss them terribly, but at the same time we want to know and we want to remember them.

Social media is far from perfect, especially in the current political climate. In the last year, social media was even kind of dreadful at times. That's why it is so nice to know social media can serve a better purpose, to virtually reunite a group of people who spent several wonderful summers together as kids. What a great boost it was for me, and I hope it was for them, too. Long time no see!


  1. Enjoyed this article immensely, Bill and congradulations on your upcoming exhibit!!!! Thanks for sharing.

    Sherry Ann

  2. OMG!!!

    Thank you for posting this :-)!!! Talk about TBT!!

    I'm a follower of your quilting BUT I am ALSO an MHS Class of 1983 member. My family ( The Manions) were ALSO members of RCC and were so until the death of my father Jack, in 2007 which came after my Mom's death in 2000. My mother , I believe, knew your mom.
    I certainly recognize some of those swimmers!!!!

    ANyway - I've known , as I've followed your Quilting life that you were Bill Volkening from Moorestown :-. I've heard your interviews on various Podcasts , etc.... I am a passionate lover quilts and tapestries and histories as well and I am currently ( now that kids are grown) obsessed with making and diving into this quilting world that is way bigger than I could imagine. I'm loving it!!

    Thanks for all you do to showcase these amazing quilts!