This co-hosted episode takes you on a 65-year journey of friendship, sewing, travel and finally re-uniting through Sew Powerful. Based on the co-authored story published in the second edition of the We Are Sew Powerful book, Jan Cancila introduces you to her BFF, Linda Reid Faught, a name you will surely recognize. Linda is known for her kind comments in the Sew Powerful Purse Project Facebook group as well as the beautifully made and bountiful purses she produces every year. Sit back and listen as these lifelong friends reminisce about distant and not-so distant events that have shaped their lives with each other and Sew Powerful.
How Life Long Best Friends Found Each Other & Sew Powerful with Linda Reid Faught and Jan Cancila
IN THIS EPISODE
Sew Powerful, BFF, Florissant, Phoenix, Houston Quilt Festival, bridesmaid dresses, Disneyland, sewing, purses, Grubville
We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.
ABOUT THE SEW POWERFUL PODCAST
The Sew Powerful Podcast shines a light on the people behind the mission to keep girls in school and create purposeful products in Zambia. Join us every week for a new 30-minute episode to meet new people, hear inspiring stories, and learn how you can join us in this global movement. Whether you sew or not, make purses or not, you will find something to enjoy in every episode. Listen today.
No host, just two guests: Jan Cancila and Linda Reid Faught
Jan Cancila, Guest 00:04
Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.
Welcome to today's podcast. It is my pleasure to introduce you to my very best lifelong friend Linda Reid Faught. Linda and I have known each other for a really long time and Linda's on the podcast today because we co-authored a story that appears in the We Are Sew Powerful book, and you can read it, but we wrote alternating paragraphs. And so today, I am not the host. Today I am the guest and Linda's the guest and there's no host. So, let's...
Linda Reid Faught, Guest 00:53
And I'l like to introduce my best friend, Jan Cancila. You know, she was my very first friend in life. I think maybe we were four or five, but we actually don't remember when we met.
That's right. And we were living in Florissant, Missouri, which is a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri in the US, sort of right in the middle of the country. And we lived in a suburb, but at the time, it wasn't very populated. And there was a farm behind my house, across the street from my house. And then I think next door to your house, too. I mean, that's the kind of place we sort of started out in. So tell us about your family. Who was in your family?
So I had two older brothers, unlike you, you had two younger brothers.
Mine were old enough to pester me. And, you know, what was that they used to call that ‘nuggies,’ when they would, you know, do their finger like that and knock you on the head. They were like six and seven years older than me. So, I was pestered all the time. But I also like to say they entertained me a lot. So when they were gone, I was very sad.
And I had two younger brothers who pestered me but in different ways. And at the time, we were living in Florissant my younger sister hadn't yet been born. But that was a relief to me to have another girl in the family. Okay, so we're best friends in Florissant. We're playing dolls (that that was pre-Barbie) so dolls, and playing. And the Christmas that I think we were in probably first grade we both got the same thing from Santa. What was that?
That miniature Singer sewing machine. Is that, was it a Singer?
Yeah, the hand crank.
You remember that? Yeah. And you had to twirl it, it had a little handle, and you twirled the handle to make the needle go.
And what happened to you?
I was sitting in the yard and Mom must have sat me there while she was hanging clothes on the line. And I, she had a...
Backup, backup for our younger people.
People used to hang their clothes out on the line instead of putting them in the dryer.
And I still remember my mother talking to the neighbor over the fence when they were out hanging clothes together. That's the way it was back then. I was sewing and I still, to this day, I wonder why in the world would a five-year-old have a sewing machine with a needle in it? Because I was sewing away, and it went right through my finger. And I still remember screaming at the top of my lungs and holding the machine up hanging on my finger.
Oh my gosh.
And the horrified look on Mom's face. So that's why I got so involved in sewing.
Well, I have to say, knock on wood, I've never sewn through my finger, and I was five years old with a sewing machine.
Yeah. Well, I've never done it again.
Pretty careful about it now.
Well, and then in the spring or early summer of that year, there was another heartbreaking thing that happened. What happened?
My Dad had really bad asthma and allergies, and Dad decided to see if he could get a job in Phoenix. And he did that, and he found a rental house and so we had to move. And I think being so young, I just didn't realize when I was waving goodbye to my best friend how awful it would be. You just don't realize how far away that is. It's 1500 miles.
Yeah. That was 65, maybe, years ago and I can still remember it. My heart still breaks thinking, I'm here, she's gone. My whole world is gone. And my aunt, mom, everybody said, ‘Oh, you'll make other friends, Da-da-da, da-da-da’.
I remember your mother had a giant going-away party for me.
Oh, that's right.
Everybody in the neighborhood was there and I got gifts and everything. I don't think it really clicked.
But the gift part, that was pretty cool.
Yeah, yeah. So I thought, this is not bad. I should move more often.
Yeah, so everybody told us, you know, you'll forget about her. You'll have other friends. Don't worry about it. But I don't know who wrote the first letter, but somebody wrote a letter, probably you to me. And we just started a letter writing campaign.
I would suppose that our moms said, you know, maybe we can get them to write to each other or something, because we probably were quite upset.
Yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean, I cried. I cried for days when you left.
It was probably your mom, then.
So, then the really good thing that happened was, the next summer your family came back because your grandparents all lived nearby.
Yes. We would come almost every summer, and that's probably another reason why you and I stayed connected.
Well, Grandma and Grandpa lived in Grubville.
Grub meaning food, right?
No, I think it probably had to do with the grub worms.
Oh, grub worms.
But I'm not sure about that. I did read the history of it. I don't know how many people live there, 50 people maybe.
Right. There was the general store that had the post office inside. There was a barber shop?
And a gas station.
A gas station. And then the homes of your relatives that made up Grubville.
Yes. Every every other home was a relative's.
When you would come home for the summer, then your family would swing by, pick me up, and I would spend the time with your grandparents.
I don't know how much they appreciated having this other person. But then we would go to the Grubville Baptist Church with your grandparents.
And they thought we were so cute. And they made us sing in the choir. And I mean, I can't carry a tune in a bucket.
The church was so small that whoever wanted to sit in the choir that Sunday could. And I don't know, you know, maybe there were 30 people in the church. I doubt if there were that many. But if you wanted to sing in the choir that week, just go up there and sit in the choir. It was, it was pretty fun.
Yeah, yeah. There were many, many adventures in Grubville because we had to make our own. When I was 11 years old, I took my very first plane ride and I took it by myself. My parents drove me from St. Louis to Kansas City so I wouldn't have to change planes. And then I flew from Kansas City to Phoenix to see you. And I think I spent a month with you in Phoenix. And that was so much fun.
And we probably drove back.
Yeah, yeah. I came before your annual trip. And I remember seeing the landscape in Arizona and I had not really traveled much by age 11, feeling like I was on another planet, and you were eating the strangest food that you were calling Mexican food. And it was like, ‘What in the heck has happened to my friend?’
That year you landed in a dust storm.
Yeah, it was a dust storm.
And I was concerned but you apparently never even saw it from the plane.
Well, no. And I thought, well, this must just be an everyday occurrence here. Again, I thought I was on a different planet. Well, then I came the year I was 17. I think you all drove up and then I rode back with you and then flew back home. And that was a really fun summer.
Between our Junior and Senior years of high school.
Then when you got married, I came down and I was in your wedding, and I had a blue Swiss dotted bridesmaid's dress with puffy sleeves. And I think I actually wore it to, like, a college formal after that. It was a really cute dress. It was my favorite bridesmaid dress of all the bridesmaid's dresses.
I find that hard to believe because it was the style, but the giant puffy sleeves that were on it were, they were a bit large for us small girls.
I don't know if you saw the picture of my (I hope my sister doesn't listen to this episode) but I mean, I was almost crying when I had to wear the bridesmaid dress for her wedding because I looked like Rosie Greer in a football uniform or something with her puffy sleeves. Anyway, okay, that's probably enough of the puffy sleeves. Okay, so we're going back and forth, it's high school, we're married. We have kids, we got jobs, I don't know. Not that we weren't friends, but you know, we were just pretty busy. And we weren't traveling, you know, with young kids and all of that. And so...
I suppose we kept in touch maybe twice a year.
Yeah, and maybe called on Christmas or something. And you were you were always on my mind but I wasn't that good about writing letters. But we were still writing letters. I mean, that was probably our main means of communication, wasn't it?
Yeah. Maybe a phone call.
I would say so.
Yeah, a phone call. But then you had to pay long distance on your phone call.
And maybe phone calls when we had babies.
Those Red-Letter days.
Yeah, the Red-Letter days. And then you came to visit me when I was still living in Missouri for, like, a week, you and your daughter Laurie, I think, right?
I think Laurie was 12, I think.
When did we do our joint trip to Disneyland?
I don't know.
It doesn't matter. It was the early 80s, I think. Yes. And so, we all had Mickey Mouse shirts on, going around Disneyland together. We looked definitely like tourists so...
We have these kids that we need to keep track of. So, let's go buy all the same shirts so that we can find each other. But what a great picture.
And you know, when we wrote this story, we submitted pictures of this whole history, including the Mickey Mouse picture. And somehow it didn't make it into the book.
Yeah, I don't know why, because.
Okay. We're going to take a quick break. And when we come back, we're going to start talking about how we've connected again through Sew Powerful. So, stay tuned, we'll be back with more fun and high jinks.
Have you gotten the second edition of the We Are Sew Powerful book? This updated version of the original bestseller (4.9 out of five stars, by the way) is again authored by Sew Powerful co-founders, Jason and Cinnamon Miles. It is available on Amazon in paperback or for your Kindle reader. This latest edition is packed full of moving stories about how Sew Powerful came to be, the volunteers who make it happen, and the way this small movement has grown into a global mission to break the cycle of poverty through education and the dignity of work. And don't forget, when you place your order, if you use smile.amazon.com and designate Sew Powerful as your preferred charity, Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase right back to Sew Powerful. And now back to our podcast.
Welcome back. This is Jan Cancila. And my best friend and I, Linda Reid Faught, just recounted our history of growing up and being friends, long-distance friends after a while. And we're about to jump into how we're connected through Sew Powerful. As our kids got older, we had more time to travel. We went back and forth. And I surprised you on one of your key birthdays, didn't I?
Yes, 60th birthday. It was a big surprise party. I thought I was just going over to my daughter's house for a birthday party, like we always do. And there was practically everybody I know was there.
And I was in the back. So, you were going through people, greeting, greeting, greeting, greeting.
Yeah, yeah, kind of, probably in shock. I couldn't believe everybody I was seeing there. I was just shocked.
Yeah. But when I saw you, I probably, I would like a good picture of that, when I saw you there.
Yeah, I have a picture of me and your mom at that party though, your late Mom.
Which, your mom was like a second mom to me. I really miss her. She was wonderful. Okay, so we started visiting back and forth a few more times. We're not going to bore you with the details of every trip, although we could. But sometime around 2014 I joined Sew Powerful. I found out about it on Facebook. And, I don't know, I may or may not have ever mentioned it to you on any of the visits that I made after that, but some time, at some point it clicked. What happened? How did you get to...
I remember you mentioning it. I was a supervisor working at home doing medical transcription. And I was just so busy all the time and the phone was ringing all the time. But I would sit and think, ‘Oh, I just wish that I could sew or create or do something.’ After working so many years at home, and I just longed for something to do. You know, the kids were getting bigger, and they didn't want Grandma-sewn clothes. And they're just things that you feel like you want to do so badly. And going through my mind all the time when I would be sitting and working, thinking, what can I do that would be fun and creative? And I just feel like I have to stop working; it's driving me crazy. But then when I started taking care of my mother on top of my job, it really was too much. And I knew, you know, you had mentioned it to me several times, you know, and I kept telling you when I quit work, I'm gonna do this.
Now see, this doesn't sound like me, to like, mention something over and over and over.
Well. Well, when I say over and over again, I mean, how many times did we talk, you know, maybe.
Yeah, well and I probably mentioned it too many times. But anyway, okay, so the seed was planted. How many purses did you make that first year?
Um, well, I think I've made 85 purses every year, every year. The first year, I didn't start until May.
And and I made 85 purses because I was so excited. I was so excited not to be sitting at my computer working. I could I could make these purses. But it did take a little bit of time, of course, to get into it, because I hadn't been sewing for a while and you know, you, you're pretty rusty. And it takes practice to sew and to really get into it. But once I did, I mean, I was in here sewing all the time. And I had so much material and stuff from my Mom. And it just seemed like it needed to be used. I had all these trims and just kept saying, ‘There has to be something I can do with all this stuff.’ So, I assume you were sewing also that year.
Yes, but I didn't ever make 85 in one year, I will confess to that. This is a quote from the story. I said that you were "a woman with a heart of gold and a seamstress that would be the envy of the finest fashion designers in Paris."
I wonder where you got that impression?
Well, because I'd seen your work and I still think it's true. So, what is it about Sew Powerful that appeals to you, besides being able to use your extensive stash and your wonderful skills?
It's exactly what I was thinking. There has to be a place that you can use these things. I want to make something that's useful. I want to feel like I'm doing something. I know, I think all of these ladies feel the same way. They have all this stuff, and it needs to be used in a purposeful way for people who appreciate it. But this is above and beyond that. These people are just so dear. And I don't know, they're just so appreciative of every single thing we do, you know, the little bit of money that we send, and it's just, they need things so badly and they're so happy and they're so grateful. And I feel grateful to be able to do this. I feel grateful to them. And they're so grateful to us. I don't know, it's just a perfect match for me, what I was hoping for, longing for, really.
Well and I have to say the purses you make are absolutely stunning. But your real heart of gold are all the comments that you make on everybody else's posts and sometimes it just brings tears to my eyes, how supportive you are of everybody else. And if anybody is stuck or struggling, you're the first person to jump in and compliment them and give them a little boost to get them going and...
Isn't it true though? I mean, I cannot believe the quality of the purses that ladies are making now from, you know, when I started in 2018. I mean, we were just making a simple purse. But now, these are works of art. It's just blowing me away; how beautiful they are.
Last fall, before COVID, we had the International Quilt Festival in Houston, and you came from Phoenix to Houston. And we met lots and lots of people, but we also displayed several of the purses you made. And you had a purse with an owl that I still remember. It was embroidered on denim, and it was just so crisp and cute and, I mean, that purse got so many compliments. That was just really...
As did yours.
Well, there were, there, there were lots of beautiful purses there.
So it was, it was really fun. Did you enjoy working at the Quilt Festival?
The Quilt Festival was, it's just something that I never would have thought of doing. And I'm kind of an introverted person. And, you know, working at home, my whole working life, I just didn't feel like I had these really great verbal skills. But as soon as I got there, and I just feel so close to this work that we're doing, and it means so much to me. And I knew that all these ladies at the Quilt Show would have just as much material in their closet as I do. So, I just thought the best way to rope them in, so to speak, is start out by saying, You've got a closet full of material that you need a useful purpose for, don't you? And every time they would say, ‘Yes, I do.’ But you know, a lot of them were already working for charities. And I would say, ‘I know that's probably a really great charity, but listen to this one. Because this one is helping the people help themselves. And that means so much more to them than you just handing them stuff, you know.’ So I think, hopefully, we got a few people recruited. Anyway, it was a lot of fun. And you know, I'm not a salesperson by any means. But I really got into it.
You did. You absolutely did. Yeah. And I think you probably worked every single day of the show. So, you talk to a lot of people.
I know. I think probably Susan Harden would have to be the top salesperson.
She was amazing.
So describe what's what's she did you remember her outfit and her purse and all that?
Oh my gosh, she made matching outfits with matching purses so that she could model them while she was recruiting people. And she could talk full-time while people were looking at stuff in the booth. She was still talking, showing them all the purses. And she was so great at that.
Yep. And she's from your hometown, so another local friend. If I look over your shoulder, I see a dressmaker's form with,
How many purses are over there?
Twenty five maybe. I'm about ready to send a box.
And if I look at them, it looks like you're using webbing instead of making the strap. Is that your preference?
Usually. Only if I can't find one that matches, then I'll make my own strap, but usually webbing.
And what, why do you like it?
Because you just cut it to the right length and sew it on.
A time saver.
Nice and easy, and it does look really neat. And you know, some of these straps that I see these ladies making now that are two colors and they look so pretty on there, too. And making your own is certainly a way to go. You can be creative with the strap as well.
Yep. And a lot of the straps, I know you've decorated those too. They they look so beautiful. What would you say if somebody has a BFF that's not involved in Sew Powerful? How could they reel them in?
All you have to do is hear the story? How can people turn it down, I ask myself. ‘If you want to feel useful, and, you know, if you need a way to fill your time and you want to feel like you're needed and useful and, I mean, really contributing to someone's life, you can change a girl's life with one purse. It can turn her whole life around.’
I know, isn't it amazing?
Well, I think that sort of brings everybody up to speed on our story from age five or six to our current age, which will go unmentioned. I guess there's a hint because I said I went to your 60th birthday party. But I'm going to give them another hint: I also went to your 70th.
And you went to my 70th.
So we know that that we're at least 70. But after that, just keep guessing.
Yeah, I have to say birthdays are coming up here pretty quick, too.
Yep, I know. Yeah, you've got one coming up in, like, five weeks or so. Linda, thank you so much for being on the podcast and walking down memory lane with me. It was really really fun.
Yeah. Well, it was fun for us. I know that. You might have to edit a little of the, some of it out, because some of it might not, you know, Grubville? Is that interesting? Maybe.
Maybe, well, we might, we might make people listen to it anyway, and then they'll know what they missed, so...
Okay, I will talk to you soon. Thank you for doing this.
Oh, thank you for calling me.
We should do this more often.
Okay. Well, the next time I have an opening in the schedule, guess who's on the podcast?
Okay, Dale and I will sit in.
All right, all right. Yes, we would love that. Okay, well, we'll talk to you soon. Bye bye.
If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at www.SewPowerful.org. That's SEW POWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.
ABOUT THE HOST
Jan Cancila has been making purses for Sew Powerful since 2014. She serves the organization as Director, Global Volunteerism, the Area Manager for Shows and Events-Mid/South USA and as the Houston Regional Coordinator. She was a public speaking major at Hanover College and holds an MBA from Our Lady of the Lake University. Jan had a 25-year career with The Coca-Cola Company before owning and operating a linen and party rental business in Houston. She is married with two grown sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and two remarkable granddaughters. Jan’s published work includes more than 100 online articles for Examiner.com. Reach Jan with comments or suggestions at email@example.com.