This is a great opportunity for you. And it is also a story.
When information about COVID 19 penetrated the northwest corner of Montana, it only made sense to start sewing face masks. After all, we had fabric for quilts, lots of thread and sewing skills (some of us more than others). So serious face masks making began. At first we used fabric from the Historical Village because we have a stash there for future quilts. But as word spread in the community about our endeavor, individuals began donating fabric. We weren’t concerned about colors or patterns as long as it was 100% cotton, a tight weave and clean.
Boxes of fabric came in and were sorted so women in the community who were sewing face masks could easily pick up a bagful. A front porch in town became the exchange station: fabric dropped off in boxes, fabric picked up in bags, freshly sewn masks delivered back to the porch, and then masks picked up by the good citizens in our valley to wear.
I must admit we didn’t pay attention to patterns when sorting fabric. Mostly it was enough effort to get bags of fabric to those who needed them, and the finished masks distributed in the community. Until two days ago when posting on Facebook with a photo that free masks were available, activity began to seriously pick up and caught our attention. In that photo was a face mask made from Seattle Seahawks fabric. All at once – people were not just asking for masks, they were asking for those masks. And within a very short time, all the Seahawks masks were spoken for. Betsy had made those masks and she heard about the demand. Unfortunately, most of the Seahawks fabric was already used up. Most! but Betsy had some snippets left which she pieced together so now in this valley we have two (2) Seahawks masks that are available.
All the face masks we made since March have been freely given to whomever asks, as we are glad to see people wearing them at the post office and the grocery store. But we decided we would put these two up for a donation to the Historical Village. If you are a Seattle Seahawks fan and are interested in sporting these masks, get in touch with Rita (email@example.com). She will drop them off if you live in the Tobacco Valley or mail them to you if you live farther away, in exchange for a donation to the Tobacco Valley Board of History. First offer received will get the masks (too busy sewing to hold an auction). Thank you.
Well, let’s start with what’s not happening at the moment and then move on to current activities. Our winter fundraiser scheduled in March with the awesome Canadian band, The Wardens, was cancelled as the diligent thing to do considering all the factors. Although we were very sorry to miss the opportunity to have these musicians perform here in the Tobacco Valley, it only made sense for them to be home and for us not to be gathering. Friday quilting has been postponed for the foreseeable future and this is certainly a tough one to accept. It made all of us realize that although one reason we sew together is to raise money for the Historical Village, a bigger part is sitting with this remarkable group of women, sharing stories, sharing laughs, offering each other love and support.
Despite the challenges of missing our Fridays together, there are things we are doing even while observing social distancing. Cathy organized sewing face masks for the local medical clinic and a number of quilters helped on this. Carmen shared her delicious tamales which makes any day seem much brighter. Sally is busy getting seedlings and such ready for May gardens. Lydna has a new puppy. Cathryn took the quilt we had been working on home (the one we fondly call ‘piano keys’) so it wouldn’t feel bereft alone in the old school house. Despite the gray, snowy weather that we’ve been getting, flowers are starting to push up their first tender leaves. And the lilac bushes at the Historical Village actually have buds.
No doubt we will be very appreciative when we get back together again. Perhaps there will be so much talking that very little quilting will get done at first.
It might seem a bit dreary in northwestern Montana but we are feeling cheerful at the Historical Village. Besides Friday quilting which is something you should consider visiting, we are planning projects that will come to fruition in the spring. All the buildings in the Historical Village are owned and maintained by the Tobacco Valley Board of History except one. That one, the small squarish white concrete building, is owned by Lincoln County and has housed various organizations over the years. Currently the Lincoln County Library uses the back space in that building for their used book sales. The front area is rented by TOPS for weekly meetings. The Eureka Chamber of Commerce which used to be housed in that building had a large sign frame in front of the building. Over the years, the sign weathered and after the Chamber moved to their new location, the county told the Tobacco Valley Board of History they could use the sign frame if they wanted.
Now we are working hard to come up with information for a new sign that we hope will be beneficial for locals as well as tourists. We are going through our extensive photo archive to find pictures that will support the new text. Our goal is to have a beautiful sign ready and up by Rendezvous Days in April. Fingers crossed!
We are also getting ready for our next big fundraiser. The Wardens will perform in Eureka on March 14th starting at 4pm at the Community Hall (Lodgecraft building), tickets at the door. This is an easy way to support the Historical Village. Any of you who experienced the Wardens at their Trego show in 2018 know they are one fabulous band – both their music and their storytelling. We believe it will be a sell out event so plan to get there early on March 14th and grab your seats.
In the Tobacco Valley, we all just finished up a truly delightful whirlwind weekend of bazaars. So many wonderful ones to visit from Riverstone Lodge to Trego Hall. No doubt you picked up many wonderful gifts, but if there happens to be someone on your list you are still missing, the Historical Village bazaar continues this Friday (12/13) and next (12/20). Warm hand-tied quilts in thick flannel, scrubbies, homemade biscotti, embroidered dishtowels, huckleberry jam, baby quilts and more. Stop by either Friday from 10am – 3pm.
Perhaps you have all your holiday shopping finished up, but are considering donations before this year ends? The Tobacco Valley Board of History always appreciates your support. We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit and will promptly send a thank you for your records acknowledging your thoughtful gift.
The Tobacco Valley Board of History truly appreciates the support from everyone in the valley and those individuals who live other places who help us maintain our community’s history. Thank you for stopping by our Christmas bazaar, attending Pint Night at HA brewery, sending in memberships, volunteering and helping in so many ways to keep the Historical Village a very special place in Eureka.
PO Box 1452. Eureka, MT 59917
The quilters are well into their fall flurry. One quilt is nearly done (you can tell when knees and elbows start touching), one tied, and another hand quilted one that was pieced by Sally started this week. The large table with items for our Holiday Bazaar is overflowing with wonderful items made by the women: potholders, baby quilts, aprons, hand embroidered tea towels and pillow cases, casserole covers, hats, scrubbies and more. All proceeds go directly to help maintain the Historical Village. Mark your calendar for December 7.
And then the Tobacco Valley Board of History will be having a fundraiser at HA Brewery from 4:00 – 7:00pm on November 27th. The Pint Night features live music, a huckleberry pie raffle, a good time connecting with friends, and $1 off every beverage sold that night given to help maintain our valley’s heritage. Hope to see you there. And in case you don’t know, HA Brewery now offers a fantastic menu so plan to come hungry.
Where does summer go? In northwest Montana, the season whizzes by with days at the lake, out of town guests, the rodeo, the quilt show, the county fair, the garden, huckleberry picking, and those other activities that you might fall into depending on your inclination. There was fishing and hiking, the Patsy Cline play which was a winner, getting a start on firewood, putting up pickles, and family reunions. Did you see this year’s Shakespeare in the Park? Run in the annual Roodell race? Eat pancakes to support the Animal Shelter (July event) or the RiverWalk (August event)?
Now as we teeter on the end of summer and the beginning of fall, there is a mad scurry to get things in order. Kids return to school, the firewood does need to be gotten in and all those last minute outdoor projects finished up. Maybe if you are retired, you start thinking about a visit to Glacier Park or some long distance traveling around the country when vacation spots aren’t as crowded. Or for young parents, maybe it is just a relief to have a regular schedule again as the school year begins.
Perhaps after the flurry of summer, you think about changes you want to make this coming fall/winter. It might be time to consider taking up a new hobby. The quilters at the Historical Village begin meeting on Fridays starting in September. Stop by if you want to learn to hand quilt or even how to tie a quilt. Or maybe you decided now is the time to become more involved with this community. The Historical Village has numerous events that can use volunteer help: rummage sales, book sales, Pint Night at HA Brewery, the holiday bazaar and our winter music fundraiser. Or perhaps as we slip into fall and winter weather, you are looking for some good reads about this region. Now is a perfect time to stop by the Historical Village museum to pick up books by local authors or ask for suggestions. The museum store closes for the season on September 2 so don’t put it off. Here are a few titles to get you started:
“Indian Trials of the Northwest Rockies” Darris Flanagan
“The Montana Christmas Tree Story: A Historic Saga of Boom and Bust” Darris Flanagan
“Tobacco Valley” Gary Montgomery
“The Book of Yaak” Rick Bass
“The Wolverine Way” Douglas Chadwick
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?
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.
Last winter we did a fundraiser for the Historical Village. Midwinter seemed a great time to offer people a chance to get out on a gray, cold afternoon to enjoy some live music, visit with neighbors and support our local museum. The event was a wonderful success and afterwards many people asked if we were going to do it again. And we are!!
On Saturday March 2 beginning at 4:00pm, we hope to see you at the Trego Civic Center to hear Mark Ross, musician and historian. Mark is someone who knows Montana well. He lived in Butte, Montana for twelve years and also spent eleven years in Missoula, five of them doing a live Saturday night show for Montana Public Radio. From 1997 – 2000 he was the Artistic Director and Producer of the Butte FolkFest. Needless to say, Mark Ross is also a consummate musician playing guitar, banjo, harmonica and a dozen other instruments. He lives in Oregon now but jumped at the chance to come back up to Montana (even in winter) for this fundraising event.
Following Mark’s show, there will be a potluck so bring your favorite dish-to-pass. We will have everything else needed at the Trego Civic Center. After dinner, there will be a jam with Mark and any local musicians who happen to bring along an instrument.
All proceeds from this home-grown event support the Historical Village. Can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon this time of year. So put it on your calendar and invite along some friends. Admission is $12 at the door. We will also have raffle tickets and our handmade quilts available for sale.