The Nellie block can be found on page 102 of the 1930's Farmer's Wife Sampler (page 236 for template instructions.)
Click here for the original Farmer's Wife Magazine, the letter written by Happy in Minnesota can be found on page 10.
Some unwise changes were taking place across Europe in regards to Nazi Germany. Britain and France voted in favor of legalizing German armament, which had been outlawed in the Treaty of Versailles as the end of the First World War, and limited German arms to a police force. For some reason the French and British delegates sought to offset German armament with a treaty promising mutual military support if either Britain or France were the victim of an aerial attack from Germany.
Hindsight is 20/20 of course and it's easy to judge decisions made in the past, but why the legalization of German armament was on the proverbial table, I don't know. But Britain and France were not the only country to suspect that Germany was up to no good. Polish spies in Germany were working to uncover information on the 1939 German Invasion of Poland as early as 1932, but spying was dangerous work. On February 16, the Baroness Benita von Falkenhayn became the second to last person in German to be beheaded by axe after she was tried and found guilty of treason and espionage against Germany on behalf of the Polish government. If you're interested in more on Benita von Falkenhayn, check out this link to the Time's original article published on Feb. 25, 1935.
In the United States, things were a little more relaxed. One major headline plastered across announced the closing of the final chapter of the Lindbergh kidnapping case. A jury deliberated for 11 hours before finding Ritchard Hauptman guilty of kidnapping and murdering Charles Lindbergh Jr. He was sentenced to death.
The Parker Bros. released the first version of the game Monopoly. Monopoly had first been patented under the name The Landlord's Game, created by Elizabeth Magie in 1903. While some initial controversy over the proper patenting of the game impacted American patent law, the game itself had a real world impact on Americans. During World War II, the US and British secret service created false humanitarian charities that distributed the game to POW's in German prison camps. Within the game pieces were real money, maps, and other small instruments that could help the soldiers to escape. It's rather amazing that a simple game can change or even save lives, it's little things that can make all the difference.
I really appreciate the simple pleasure that Happy in Minnesota takes in the simple luxuries in her new home: a linoleum floor, a new range oven, and a lamp in the living room. I can certainly relate to how nice having a finished floor is, considering we lived without one for the last 4 months. But what I thought was the most interesting thing Happy was excited for was the lamp in her new living room. In the 1930's only about 70% of Americans had electricity in their homes. Most of those American's lived in cities. If a farmer was blessed enough to have electricity, they had to provide it themselves with the use of either a water turbine, a windmill or a gasoline generator. How often do we take these small luxuries for granted, and are they really that small?
The Nellie block is one of those blocks that you definitely want to color the templates before you start chopping up your fabric! There are so many tiny 1 1/2" squares that's easy to get your eye's crossed and mess up!
Even though I colored my templates blue and yellow, I decided to switch to a purple. This gave my block a muted look instead of a bright, vibrant checkerboard look. Also, I know that I labeled 4 sections for pre-cuts, but the B and C are essentially the same sections. Sometimes I just do things without thinking them through all the way, and things always end up more complicated than they needed to be.
A (4) 2 x 2
B (4) 2 x 1 1/4
C (4) 2 x 1 1/4
D (40) 1 1/4
Keep your seams neat and strait because all of the corners in this block will be immediately noticeable. Also keep in mind to press your fabrics, not iron them. Stretching your fabrics will help skew your corners. This block was the potential to be bogged down with with thick seams, so pressing is important!