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Luminary correspondent spotlight

By Staff | May 6, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED: Carol Sones Shetler in 9th grade circa 1957

Editor’s note: Each year The Luminary highlights a special group of people known as “Mothers.” This year, two little “birds” shared the following information involving one very special mother.

Carol Sones Shetler has a humble demeanor, always pushing others into the limelight while sharing her wisdom and strength with family, friends, church, and community. Today her children and grandchildren honor her talents.

Her first talent is farming. Learning crop management and gathering knowledge in animal husbandry from her father, she grew up on a dairy-potato farm in Muncy, Lycoming County. She even acquired knowledge on how to grow Christmas trees. Starting many a plant from seed in her very own greenhouse and saving seeds year-to-year from heirloom produce, she grew vegetables and a truck patch for at least five fresh produce markets over the years, including Wilkes Barre on the square. She has a knack for knowing how to take care of and when to plant flowers, shrubs, trees, bushes, yes, and even weeds.

The first talent ties into the second-artistry. She has a wonderful talent for landscaping design and has even by her own hand landscaped many properties over the years, a practice she continues to this day. Through her school days, her artistic abilities grew playing in the percussion section of the Hughesville Band, helping in school plays, and winning the art award her senior year.

“When we were young she would make the most beautiful handmade Christmas ornaments. These were given to family and friends and are still being hung during the holidays every year across the country,” said the oldest bird.

The second bird said, “One time a friend said to me, My goodness, your mother could pick up a piece of driftwood and make it into a masterpiece!” She has painted her current home so beautifully, integrating many of the wonderful quilt sign paintings over the years, and designing a flying geese pattern on the door of a privy in her back yard.

To many, Carol is the ultimate quilter of hand-stitched original designs with family, historical, and community meanings. Her quilting days began with her mother, completing bed-sized coverings from vintage materials inherited from her aunt. Today, she can look at one piece of fabric or a color swatch and see the whole layout.

“We call this her creative mind,” said both birds simultaneously.

Carol’s third talent is that of a teacher and leader. She taught her granddaughter to quilt and has organized multiple quilt projects bringing cousins together across generations. Growing spiritually, she provided leadership in the church through programs such as cradle roll, children’s and women’s ministries, and playing the piano and organ. Her artistic talents were shared in church making floral arrangements from her own gardens for many occasions. She sang-and still continues to sing-in choir cantatas and trios and eventually would teach her children different songs, both traditional and originally written by her own hand. On Saturday nights in preparation for church, she would set her mother’s hair and would do her children’s hair up in soft pink curlers.

Maintaining cross-generational connections informs her fourth talent-genealogist and historian. She has an uncanny talent for connecting people.

“We can be out anywhere and in any state when all of a sudden she meets a person with a familiar last name and begins to ask questions about their family history. Just starting with one name and then another name and in a matter of minutes, she is weaving their family tree connection. It’s pretty magical,” chirped the youngest bird.

Over the years, she brought families together by hosting reunions and collecting research culminating in a self-authored and self-produced book of family history. Teaching her grandchildren and others their family tree through poems she wrote set to popular tunes adds songwriter to her list of artistic talents.

“We were told that she developed this skill from her early education at Eight Square School in Lycoming County,” the birds said.

As a historian, she continues her talent as a teacher and leader by giving to her community through promoting events, researching, and writing stories. Speaking to students and adults alike about local history across many subjects, she is a skilled public speaker. A photographer always taking pictures for The Luminary and West Branch magazine, she insists on trying to squeeze just one more into the photo saying “it means more to people when you have more in.”

Another talent of hers is as a writer. Like quilting, writing is a talent that she enjoys because they share the method of piecing together images, ideas, and beauty. The way she starts a story is also magical. It can happen when she hears someone talking or sees a sign the wheels just start turning. “Now that’s a story” is a common phrase Carol will utter, but it’s perfecting the “title” that becomes her greatest joy.

Finally, there are those little things that are intimate talents that only family would recognize in her. “She would say she is not cook or baker, but there are homemade items Mom makes that we love: baked beans, fruit salad, cinnamon rolls with nuts, crumb-topped pies, chicken and waffles, and dandelion with bacon dressing. I’m leaving so much out of this story, but the reader gets the gist. She is pretty amazing to us, and she would never want the fuss or the accolades,” tweeted the birds in harmony.

Thanks, MOM with love from your children and grandchildren which span from the homestead of Montour County to the Pennsylvania city in which Mother’s Day was first officially recognized in 1908, Philadelphia, to the borders of Alvira in Lycoming County.