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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.

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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.

 

It is an art

What do New York City, Gee’s Bend, Alabama and Eureka, Montana have in common?  Beautiful handmade quilts.  On a recent trip to the Big Apple, I was fortunate enough to see an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled Souls Grown Deep.  Part of this exhibit featured quilts from Gee’s Bend, Alabama.  In 1998, folk art collector William Arnett happened to be going through a small town in southern Alabama and noticed quilts on geesbendclotheslines.  They were so striking, he stopped to get information about them and eventually bought some.  Later he arranged for over seventy quilts made by the women in Gee’s Bend to be part of an exhibit that traveled nationally. They were shown in art museums from Washington, DC to San Francisco, from Houston to Boston.  There are books and videos about these quilts and the women who made them.  In 2006, the US Postal Service even came out with a set of postage stamps that featured images of the quilts.  So for me, it was a remarkable moment to stand in the Met and see six of them displayed.  I was so tempted to touch them, lift a corner to see what the back quilting looked like, run my fingers over the colors. But of course I didn’t.

Standing there brought so many thoughts and emotions about the women in Gee’s Bend, about the women who sew quilts in the Historical Village, about the fabrics used in all of these quilts, the friendships as quilters sit together sewing, the designs, the stitches, the talk.  Especially this time of year as fall sets in and the quilters at the Historical Village begin meeting on Fridays, we get into a rhythm that will take us through the winter and into spring.  Here in Eureka, those of us who quilt with this group are ready to start up again.  Whether our quilts will ever grace the walls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art doesn’t matter.  Mostly we want our stitches to be even and the knots hidden.

Falling into new colors

It is that time of year and yes, we are all ready.  The Historical Village museum closes for the season after Labor Day and then the quilters begin meeting again on Fridays in the old school house.  The second Friday in September we will have our annual Fall Rummage sale from 10:00 – 2:00.  Lots of treasures including all sortcaremensquilts of fabric for your sewing pleasure.  Stop by so you don’t miss out! The third Friday of September is when we seriously start quilting again until next May.  All the quilters are looking forward to this: the conversation, the camaraderie, the chance to explore new quilt patterns, colors and designs.  We have already decided which quilts we will start with.  The blue one is my personal favorite but you will have to wait until it is on the frame to see it.

As always, if you are interested in joining whether as a novice or an experienced quilter, don’t hesitate to stop by on Fridays between 10:00am and 3:00pm.  No pressure as this group has a good sense of humor and more patience then anyone might imagine.  And if you have a quilt top that you would like to have hand quilted, this is the group to do it.  Stop by any Friday and one of the woman will explain the process.  Not only will you get your quilt finished but the proceeds from our quilting support the Historical Village.

 

Thanks

The Eureka Montana Quilt Show was a lovely success.  And so many generous people bought raffle tickets to support the Historical Village.  Of course there were numerous volunteers helping that day to staff the museum, sell tickets and let people know about our raffle items. Lots of efforts made to keep the grounds and the buildings at the Historical Village looking great and maintaining our valley’s history.

ML and Bev museum

A few more busy weeks in summer before the season ends. On August 21, Shakespeare in the Parks will perform Othello at the Historical Village.  And the next afternoon, August 22, all the museum docents and Village quilters gather for their annual picnic. Labor Day is the last weekend that the Historical Village museum is open. Then everything in the buildings will be covered over for winter and the quilters begin to meet again every Friday from 10:00 – 3:00 in the old school house.

Just in case you missed purchasing a quilt during the quilt show (can you ever have enough?), we still have a few beautiful ones for sale.  Cathryn Schroeder pieced a log cabin quilt in shades of rust and apricot that was then hand quilted by the Tobacco Valley Board of History quilters.  And Vivian Vanleishout pieced a beauty in shades of pale green and lilac that was also hand quilted (queen size).  Both quilts are available at the Historical Village.

Congratulations to Laura Persson who won the raffle for the Victorian era quilt!

It takes a Village…

The response to our membership drive has been awesome. Thanks to everyone who sent something towards supporting the Historical Village.  Of course it is not too late if your form happens to be still sitting on the kitchen table/desk.  Just put it in an envelope with your donation, add our address (Tobacco Valley Board of History at PO Box 1452  Eureka, MT 59917), a stamp and you are good to go.  IMG_2672

Hopefully you have seen the Great Northern caboose in the Village. Kenny Westbrook just finished the renovation.  It is so beautiful – and much more sturdy then it was before.  Children are going to thoroughly enjoy climbing on it this summer.  And a few lucky adults will get to sit on the caboose steps to watch Shakespeare in the Parks.

The Village quilters stopped meeting on Fridays for the summer but some of their lovely handwork will be available at the Eureka Montana Quilt Show on August 4.  Of course there are other quilts available for sale at the museum gift shop all summer.  If you are searching for a unique wedding gift or something special for yourself, you might consider one of the tied quilts which are the perfect combination of beautiful, warm and affordable.  Yes, here in northwest Montana, one often needs a quilt on chilly summer nights.

 

Ageism

I suppose it is no surprise a tinge of ageism creeps in when quilting with this group of women.  Our ages stretch from mid sixties to mid nineties.  Besides piecing, hand quilting and putting on bindings, these women also set up wooden quilt frames which are large enough to hold a queen size quilt.  They schlep boxes with fabrics and other odds and ends when there is a rummage sale.  They schlep boxes of books when there is a book quilterslinesale. They move furniture around in the museum as needed, set up displays and archive the treasures.  They trim bushes on the grounds, pick up trash and shovel snow – whatever the season requires.  They keep accounts, run membership campaigns, and sell raffle tickets.  They oversee construction projects in the Historical Village and often do some of these projects themselves.  Two of the quilters recently helped to replace broken slats in the boardwalk.

When there is work to be done, especially this time of year, we look around at our ranks and wonder where some younger people are.  Not so much because we can’t manage, but because it seems there are things young people might learn about maintaining their valley’s heritage and running a museum, picking up skills along the way such as grant writing and chinking an old log building. And this is where ageism slips out, while sitting over the quilt stitching. Remarks are made about ‘those’ people who spend too much screen time, or time constantly checking messages on their phones.  Or those people who say they would like to help out but it is just too difficult for them to find time on a Wednesday morning or a Saturday afternoon or any other time when help might be needed at the Historical Village.

Thus that tricky sneer of ageism, the shrug of shoulders, the roll of eyes at the group – those young people – who are summarily dismissed.  And of course it isn’t true as of course there are some young people who do make an effort, who do show up.  Magdalena, delightfully middle aged, stepped up to help on a regular basis at the museum.  Madison, who  graduates from high school this June, is bringing a group of her high school friends over next week to weed. But as some of the current quilters started helping at the Historical Village back in the 1970s, they wonder where the young people are who will pick up the torch to carry it forward.  And young doesn’t necessarily mean teens or twenties. Middle aged is fine for learning the skills we can teach, or bringing skills already honed.  As we keep our eyes open for individuals willing to step up, ready to take the torch, we also are going to try hard not to fall prey to ageism.