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
Stop 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.
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.
Thanks to all of you who support Pint Night for the Historical Village, and those who submit memberships for the Tobacco Valley Board of History, and those who come by the old school house to purchase gifts and buy quilts. Thanks to everyone of you who made donations of fabric or checks or time. And of course special thanks to the quilters who sew each Friday and the other volunteers who help maintain the museum. Recently Dave Leeman said, “The Historical Village is a jewel. We’re so lucky to have it here.” Of course I had to agree with him. It’s our community’s history.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.