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Former mechanic turned quilter among craft vendors
Spring Fling - Shelby & Emmit Hart.jpg
Shelby and Emmit Hart have smiles as bright as an Easter egg while posing for a picture Saturday at the Southern Standard Spring Fling held at Three Star Mall.

Michael Hawthorne used to be a diesel mechanic. He’d build hotrods and do repairs on just about anything at his shop in Rock Island.

Michael has a new hobby now. He’s traded his wrenches for a sewing machine and now makes quilts.

“I turned my mechanic shop into a quilt shop,” said Michael in words you don’t hear every day. “Doing mechanic work is hard on you.”

So why quilting?

“My mama did it for years,” said Michael. “We didn’t want to sell her quilting machine so I told my wife that surely we could figure out how to use it ourselves. We’ve been doing it now for almost three years. I really enjoy it. It gives you a sense of satisfaction when it looks really good when you’re done.”

Michael and his wife, Lois, operate Quilt Monkey Fabrication. They were one of the many vendors on hand Saturday for the Standard’s successful Spring Fling at Three Star Mall.

The event was so well-attended, J’s Restaurant owner Junior Petit had to shut his doors for about 15 minutes to catch up with the mad lunch rush. Craft vendors reported strong sales as well.

“We really did sell a lot,” said Lois as the show was winding down. “We also do quilt repairs if anybody needs it.”

Anna Higgins was manning one of the most mysterious booths. She was selling books of poetry for $10. The poetry was written by a Manchester doctor who does not want to reveal his identity.

“Audio books are also available,” said Anna. “He picked some of his patients to read his poetry.”

Shirley Smith was selling homemade wreaths and copies of her new CD called “Remind Me Dear Lord.” A lifelong piano player, she recorded it in a South Pittsburgh studio.

“My mother would see me on the kitchen table pretending to play piano so she bought me a piano,” said Shirley. “I’ve been playing ever since then. They get me to be the pianist at every church I’ve been.”

Shirley grew up going to Cedar Grove School in Van Buren County where her mother worked in the cafeteria.

Leslie Veach had custom-made tumblers for sale. Her booth was humming right in front of center stage at the mall. 

Center stage was home to some heart-warming activity as charming, little pageant winners paraded across stage and were crowned victorious to the delight of the crowd.

Standard reporter Lisa Hobbs and newspaper mascot Bonnie Bear served as pageant judges.

The Standard plans to hold similar community events in the future.