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Summer in the Village

IMG_1222 2Stop by for a picnic or to bring out of town guests.  Spend time exploring the museum. Let the kids play and climb on the old caboose.  Stop by the old Fewkes Store in the Historical Village to pick up gifts, souvenirs, a special something for yourself or for a friend.  There are baby quilts, books about the Tobacco Valley, post cards, pine needle baskets, tea towels, tied quilts and others that are sewn with tiny stitches.  There are scrubbies that are great for doing dishes and art bags for children.  There is handmade jewelry as well as greeting cards.  And the proceeds from anything you buy goes towards helping to maintain the Historical Village.

You might wonder what sort of expenses pile up with this group of old buildings, the stretch of lawn under shady trees.  The Historical Village is fully maintained by donations and volunteer labor. This summer alone we are looking at renovations to the bell tower on the old school house, oiling the logs of the Baney House, and starting work on the fire lookout.  Of course there is also lawn maintenance, keeping the bathrooms in good shape and the utility bills paid.  The Historical Village gets a lot of use in the summer – thousands of folks when you count all the visitors who stop by (the museum is open everyday from 1:00 – 5:00pm) and special events.  Shakespeare in the Park performs here on July 30 and the Eureka Montana Quilt Show happens on August 3.

We hope you have time to enjoy the Historical Village this summer.  There really is an awful lot here to take in.

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Change of seasons

The volunteers were out to do a Spring cleaning at the Historical Village in mid April.  Now we are finishing up our last quilt so the old school house can be prepared for summer visitors.  Of course first there will be our annual rummage sale on May 18th.  And then the second graders from the Eureka elementary school will visit the Village in mid May to learn about their heritage in the Tobacco Valley.  But then we will be poised to throw wide the doors for the summer season.  Volunteer docents will have the buildings open and be available to answer questions every single day of the summer starting IMG_1227on May 25th.  Yes, it might surprise you that there are enough volunteers in this small town to have the Historical Village museum open everyday of summer from 1:00 – 5:00pm.  But it is true.  This is a remarkable community where people care enough to put in volunteer time as needed.

Of course this isn’t meant to dissuade you if you were thinking to offer help.  Needless to say there are always things to be done at the Historical Village from trimming shrubbery to painting walls, litter patrol to helping with our events.  And we hope to expand the roster of events at the Historical Village this summer to bring in speakers for demonstrations and talks.

Oh! Just in case you have your calendar handy, you might want to mark July 30 when Shakespeare in the Park performs “Merry Wives of Windsor” in the Village.  And the following weekend is the Eureka Montana Quilt Show on August 3rd.  The Historical Village looks absolutely lovely draped with all those beautifully colored quilts. You won’t want to miss it.

Get out your sunbonnet

The women who quilt on Fridays are hopeful.  Sun comes through the school house windows making our space delightfully warm. It also helps us see the stitches we make, the patterns we follow.  The old overhead lights in the school house aren’t the best and there’s discussion about replacing them.  What would be economical as well as provide the best lighting for quilting through long Montana winters?IMG_0973

But today most things look possible. The sun helps.  Yes, there’s still snow outside but it is not nearly as deep, and walking to the school house from the parking lot is so much easier than it was a month ago.  There are times when it seems a video of these women might convey more of what they do to support the Historical Village than a blog.  Our quilters slogging through snow on a frigid Friday morning, the pile of boots and coats accumulating at the door as everyone sits down to quilt would certainly be a piece of the footage.

This past Friday some of us didn’t even wear coats as it seems just possibly we are on the verge of Spring.  There was talk about the fundraiser we held at the Trego Civic Center a few weeks back and appreciation for everyone who came out to support that.  There was talk about the book sale we will have during Eureka’s Rendezvous.  There was talk about the work that needs to be done over the summer, possible repairs, painting, etc.  And, of course, there was talk about the beautiful quilts we are working on.  One belongs to a friend of Sally’s, pieced from fabric the woman’s mother-in-law saved from her children’s clothes, fabric that was put away in the 1950s and now is being finished into a quilt to be used.

The other quilt (as we usually have two going) was pieced by a woman in Oklahoma.  The design and fabric are by Kaffe Fassett, a name most of us didn’t know but now we do. A man who obviously has quite the eye for colors and designs and the ability to put these together in amazing ways.  We muse whether he might want us to hand quilt one of his own quilts as we all believe hand quilting lends such a different feel. We see he’s doing quilt events at a museum in England this month and wonder if he might enjoy Eureka in the summer, perhaps for the Quilt Show on August 3rd.  There is a mixture of laughter and excitement.  The group doesn’t have expectations for fame but there is always thoughts about how to spread the word about the Historical Village and our work.

 

On your calendar

All these events help raise money to support the Historical Village.  Volunteers bake pies, sew quilts, knit hats and play music so our valley’s museum can be everything you want.

quilts for sale

November 21:  Pint Night at HA Brewery.  4-8pm.  Huckleberry Pie raffle. Live music with Dave Leeman and Al McCurry.  $1 from every beverage sold and $1 from every pizza sold goes to the Village.

December 1:  Holiday bazaar from 9-4 in the old school house! Handmade items galore with all proceeds going to the Village.  Yes its true. You don’t want to miss this.

December 7-21: Every Friday until Christmas, the bazaar at the Historical Village continues. A perfect place to pick up last minute gifts and visit the quilters. 10-3 in the old school house.

Do you want quarterly updates about events at the Historical Village? We now put out an e-newsletter.  Leave a comment so we know the best way to contact you.

Pick it up

Last Friday a woman from another Montana town stopped by the old school house to visit. She had a few hours to spend so sat down to watch the quilters and was encouraged to give it a try. She was hesitant at first to try stitching on the large quilts, so we found her a small piece of fabric and a hoop to practice on. IMG_3234

It is so encouraging to watch an adult learn something new.  Of course any of us can learn something new if we put our minds to it.  Sign up for a class to learn Spanish. Ask a friend to teach us how to grow corn in northwest Montana.  Take an online writing course. Read a book about the history of China. It is surprising that with so many opportunities to learn a new thing, we often go through life assuming we know enough. Or that we are too busy to take the time to learn.

It isn’t necessary here to go into all the evidence how learning something new helps brains build connections between neurons.  Or how research shows lifelong learning is connected to successful aging.  The question is – why would any of us put off learning a new thing when there are so many options available?  Mary Louise, one of the skilled quilters who comes to the old school house on Fridays, started quilting at ninety years old.  Bev was in her eighties when she decided to learn how a smart phone works and now regularly texts, sends photos, and enters reminders.  Shirley, a skilled musician in our town, recently told me she didn’t start playing accordion until she was in her sixties.  Morgan, a busy parent with three children, wrote her first play and will direct it this December as part of the community theater.

We can all offer excuses at the end of the day.  We are already doing too much, or are just too tired to take on one more thing, or – heaven forbid – we don’t need to learn anything else.  But before you brush aside an opportunity to learn something new, think about it.  Maybe it will only take a few hours a week to start studying Japanese. Maybe rather then mindless screen time, you can sign up for a class.  Or ask a neighbor to teach you to weld. Or stop by the old school house on a Friday morning to learn to quilt.

Crisp leaves

Our community is so generous.  There were all those individuals who sent membership checks over the summer to support the Historical Village. Then there were the shoppers who came by for our September rummage and fabric sale.  One woman traveling from Pennsylvania was so taken with the fabric strips we had at the sale that she called after she got back home asking if she could buy more.  We were tickled with her interests and immediately arranged to have the fabric she wanted shipped to her. And nearly every week now, some one stops by the old school house on Friday when the women are quilting to make a donation.IMG_3182

Last week Donna Todd came in with a lovely old quilt top that she gave to the Historical Village quilters.  We are still discussing how it should be quilted.  Sally thinks this top was pieced around the 1930s.  No doubt it will be a wonder once it is laid out on the frame, all those vintage colors and patterns. We look forward to working on it.

Pam, a staunch Historical Village supporter from Oklahoma, who has sent numerous quilts over the years to be hand quilted, recently gave us fabrics as well as some hand stitched items for our winter bazaar.  Along with these treasures, she also sent two beautiful quilts we will work on this winter.  One, a lovely collection of rainbow colors, might just be my current personal favorite.

When people say it takes a village – it is obvious the community that supports the Historical Village in the Tobacco Valley is a village that stretches across the entire country.  The woman in Pennsylvania, Pam in Tulsa, and of course many people in Montana are all part of our village, helping with resources, quilts and volunteer efforts.  As we enjoy this autumn season, it indeed feels like a bountiful harvest.  Thank you.

A spring into Fall

The women started quilting on Fridays again.  We set up a lovely blue one with blocks created by numerous people.  It will be a pleasure to decide how to quilt each unique design. No doubt it will take us through til November, and there are other quilts waiting to be done.  Thankful to have this pile as it is one of the many ways we raise money to maintain the Historical Village.

To begin this season off, the Tobacco Valley Board of History constructed a strategic plan to carry us through the next three years.  The Historical Village was first established in 1971 so now nearly fifty years old.  Forty-seven to be exact.  Forty-seven years of volunteers fundraising, getting old buildings painted, roofs repaired, exhibits set up, Processed with MOLDIVthe museum open everyday in the summer.  A lot of accomplishments for an all-volunteer organization in a small town.  And now we want to plan well so that this can continue for your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Darris, Lynda and Sally fine tuned suggestions from the entire board.  Some very exciting ideas that we will begin to work towards making a reality.

Sally will create History Suitcases that can be borrowed by schools and home school groups. Each suitcase will have artifacts, photos, books and other items that students can touch, read, examine and learn from.  We also decided to expand our outreach to the community as we begin doing more events at the Village starting this winter.  For you not to miss anything, get on our email list so you can receive quarterly newsletters. You can ‘like’ the Tobacco Board of History Facebook page as we will have updates there.  And of course we will be putting our quarterly calendar in the newspaper.

We are also building our lists of volunteers.  There are summer docents for the museum, quilters, archivists and individuals to help with small repairs and some grounds maintenance.  Obviously we need more.  People who like to help organize events, help get our calendar out, fix things that need fixing (yes, the teeter totter is on the list), do demonstrations in the summer of skills we don’t want lost.

And an archival room is in the plan!  This would be a space that is secure, temperature and humidity controlled and with a place for individuals to do research. This has been needed for some time and now we are ready to take it on – find someone to do the design, raise the funds to build it, and then move the files, boxes and other archival materials into the new space.  Once this is completed (remember this is a three year plan) it will open more room in the Fewkes store museum to expand the exhibits there.

We are definitely springing into Fall.