Late winter in this part of Montana can be gray. And once we move from constant snow to snow with mud, that grayness feels even more difficult to endure. Which is why the Historical Village volunteers had the great idea to have a late winter community event that promises to rock your socks and raise some funds for maintaining the Village.
On March 3rd, The Wardens play at the Trego Hall starting at 4pm. An easy time of day to drive out and catch this great band from Canmore, Canada. Up in those parts, a ranger is called a warden. These three musicians/wardens have worked in the back country around Banff for a lot of years so know mountains and horses as well as music. Admission for the concert is $8/per with tickets on sale at the door.
We figured once folks come out to Trego to hear good music, they might just want to stay and enjoy themselves a bit longer. There will be a potluck after the concert (starting around 5:30) and then a music jam. Ray and Shirley Jacobs met The Wardens recently and encouraged us to bring them to Eureka. They will be there. Hope you are too. If you want a preview of The Wardens, check out their website here.
So mark March 3rd on your calendar and come out for a good time. Bring a dish to pass if you want to stay for the potluck, and if you play music then please bring your instrument along. Otherwise come to listen and enjoy this late winter treat. Oh, and there will be beautiful handmade quilts for sale as well.
This quilt wasn’t made by the women at the Historical Village. It was actually created by Patty, another wonderful quilter, who lives here in the valley. She must have quilting in her blood as she gets second hand clothes from various places, figures out a pattern that she likes, cuts up the clothing and begins to sew. I am always amazed at what she comes up with. This particular quilt she made as a donation to help refugees. Each time it was taken out to be shown at a fundraising effort, people sighed with delight.
The last time I took it out of a bag, it was to box it up at the post office. The quilt was about to be sent off to its new home and for whatever reason I always seem to do my boxing up at the post office on their counter. Two women in line watched me and when I shook the quilt out to fold it up as small as possible (a trick with a double bed quilt), they exclaimed simultaneously how beautiful it was. I agreed. One woman lamented that she always wanted to learn to quilt but had never had the chance to try. I pointed out she could easily join the Friday quilters at the Historical Village. They would be happy to teach her the joys of hand quilting. There are other quilt guilds in town that would be glad to mentor her along as well. But she had reasons – Friday’s weren’t the best day and she didn’t know if her sewing machine worked and besides where could she spread out a project like a quilt in her house.
There are always reasons aren’t there? Reasons why we can’t study Spanish or call up that older friend we think about. Reasons why we aren’t able to volunteer or clean out the top of the closet. Of course sometimes the reason makes sense. But often times we find ourselves justifying why we can’t do something that part of us really would like to do.
Rather than focus on all the reasons one can’t do something, this quilt made me aware of what we can do. Patty finds the used fabric and inspiration to make quilts. This particular one helped support a family who had the gumption to come to a new country. There is a friend in town who decided to learn Spanish so he bought some CDs, a bilingual dictionary and some books. I must admit I had my doubts about this self-teaching method until a few years later when I heard him converse in Spanish with a musician visiting from Mexico. There’s Bernice Ende, another friend from the valley, who has been a long rider for years now. She rides a horse across to all parts of the US. She tells me she can’t keep track of all the people who say they would like to do what she does. But they don’t. Sometimes their reasons make sense. They have young children at home or need to be available for aging parents. But sometime their reasons are downright flimsy.
So when you hear someone say with sincerity that he or she really wants to do something, tell them – you can! Push aside all the thin reasons they might offer up as to why they can’t. Encourage them to climb on that horse or pick up CDs to learn Russian or walk into the Historical Village on a Friday ready to learn how to quilt. Our world needs people who follow their dreams. Turn those dreams into realities. Yes, you can.
This time of year in northwest Montana, any glimpse of blue sky has everyone smiling. Even while focused on stitching, the women look up in unison when light through the old school house windows gets slightly brighter with a break in the clouds. January not only brought us a few snatches of sun, but also three new Tobacco Valley Board of History volunteers. Not quite enough for all that needs to be done but certainly a good start. Magdalena is new to the area and a great fit for helping with displays as she wants to learn more about local history. Michelle has the energy to help out with the grounds and the shrubbery once we get into spring. Ya’aqov, a retired librarian, is learning to maintain the archives from Cathryn. And having these three awesome individuals step up, encourages us to think there just might be others in the community who want to help maintain our local heritage.
Perhaps though people have other ideas about what to do with their spare time? Maybe they see maintaining artifacts, photographs and historical buildings from the Tobacco Valley as frivolous. Why think about the past when there are sufficient worries for the present? And don’t even mention the future! But our past has a lot to offer, not only to school children who come each spring to visit the exhibits or the tourists who pass through on summer afternoons, but to all of us.
Some locals lament about lack of business in the area and how the town is going to dry up. The old newspapers in the Historical Village files tell of the same sentiment numerous times throughout the town’s history. But there has always been something new that came along. Eureka was once the Christmas tree capital and there was logging. There were the years when the Libby dam and the train tunnel were built that brought many new people and jobs to this area. There were opportunities and change and dry spells and then new opportunities appeared.
The files show how the Tobacco Valley News, our local newspaper that still comes out weekly, got started. There are articles telling about how the valley first got internet and the volunteers who helped set it up. A computer shop now occupies the building where the office supply store used to be (a business now farther up the road in a larger space), and the same building that used to house the newspaper (which moved behind the bank). Things change for sure but there are things to be learned from the changes. How can we make transitions easier? Where do new ideas for our town come from? How have great additions to the valley come about in the past? What can we use from those experiences to continue to make this a place where we want to be?
The holidays are happening. Snow is starting to pile up. Sidewalks are slippery. Bazaar sales at the Historical Village have gone well although of course we hope there will be last minute shoppers on December 22nd. Last Friday the quilters had their annual party – a potluck and then gift exchange. The delicious food put everyone in a sleepy mood but we continued sewing until our usual closing time. Lynda and Sally even set up a second quilt that we will tie next week, a colorful cotton one Cathryn pieced. Although I am often content to sit and talk rather than sew, the pace is such that I feel compelled to be as productive as the others (no easy task with this group of women).
As usual we are sewing, talking with any visitors who stop by to drop off something or to buy some lovely handmade item, and discussing how to raise money to cover the Village’s costs, and how to get all the things done from archiving to replacing broken pieces of the boardwalk. It often feels there isn’t enough time for all we need to accomplish but somehow we still manage to listen to stories about families and friends, laugh at Bev’s jokes and grumble if the needle is not going through as easily as we might like.
Amidst the talk, different quilters talk about other volunteer work they are doing – helping with the Winter Bird Count, the library, the thrift store, the church. Its amazing how these individuals find time to do all this to make our community as good as possible. There might be a concern when we don’t see younger people stepping up to help with these projects and really in this case, younger is broad. We not only think about high school students but adults in their twenties to fifties. Of course there are volunteers but there never seems to be quite enough. So we hope some folks out there will put volunteering down as a New Year’s resolution. Once a week for a few hours surely would mean a lot.
Yes, it has been too long. Quilts have been started and even finished since the last post. And there were some lovely ones. The women are working hard to keep up with the requests – a quilt made from t-shirts a car buff collected, a quilt started thirtysome years ago and pulled out to be finished, a quilt someone made for a person she loves very much. And now besides quilting every Friday, the women are also hard at it making items for their annual bazaar on December 2nd.
You won’t want to miss this bazaar. There are many events happening in Eureka over the first weekend in December but the bazaar at the Historical Village is by far the best. Handmade baby quilts, aprons, crocheted hats and mittens, tree ornaments, items for your kitchen and items for your bedroom (lovely pillow cases that will be immediately snatched up) are available. There are the most delicate pine needle baskets made by Cathryn and some of Mary Louise’s hand dipped chocolates for sale. There will be a raffle for a basket of treats. Thick and soft flannel quilts hand tied so quite affordable are for sale in colors that call your name.
The prices for these handmade items are definitely within anyone’s budget and besides that – all the proceeds go directly to the Historical Village. No percentage for this or that, no fees or undisclosed costs. When you purchase something at the bazaar in the old school house this Saturday, all the money from your purchase helps maintain the Historical Village. Your Village which keeps the archives and the artifacts and the memories of our valley as well as offering a wonderful place for events like Rendezvous, the Eureka MT Quilt Show and Shakespeare in the Parks. Do you need any other reason to come to the Historical Village bazaar on Saturday morning? We open at 9:00am.
Quilting has started for the season. The women are hard at it sewing on a lovely one that Lynda pieced. We are getting back into our rhythm sewing together, talk, lunch at noon. Occasionally one of the women will get up to do a chore. Dianne sorts out the change box and pays bills. Cathryn catalogs items that are donated to the museum. Lynda keeps track of the to-do list which seems never ending. The door to the old school house was recently repaired. We are still hoping for enough funding to fix the caboose which is sadly in need of renovation. Some of the quilters mention to me there really should be a photo posted of the woman who won the raffle quilt this year. She is Canadian and a shirt-tail relative of Bev’s. She came down to Eureka to pick the quilt up, saving us postage and allowing for this great photo in front of the museum (thank you, Bev, for taking it). Its a lovely quilt and we all remember stitching on it. Nice to know that it will be appreciated.
And then Gary D. donated an amazing antique quilt to the Historical Village. After much discussion, it was decided we should have a special raffle for it. Tickets are $5/piece or four for $20. Dianne took the quilt to a man who does work with the Antique Roadshow. He said it was made between 1890-1910 and worth about $650. Its quite beautiful and the photos don’t do it justice. The fabrics glow! We will sell raffle tickets for it until the Eureka Montana Quilt Show in August 2018. This winter it hangs in a quilt shop in Bigfork and then will come back to Eureka in the summer for the quilt show on August 4th. A wonderful gesture by Gary to help the Historical Village and a great opportunity for someone to own this lovely piece of history.
It is astonishing how many people reach out to help the Historical Village keep going. Not only the women who quilt all winter, but those who help with the countless other tasks, people who make donations of items or money, those who give time to help paint or trim bushes or dust displays. Those who buy raffle tickets! And yes, those who have us finish a quilt for them. I suppose it could be said It takes a village to keep a Village.
The quilters drew the lucky raffle winner at the Lincoln County Fair on August 27th. A Canadian woman won the beautifully pieced quilt and will pick it up this week. Thanks to all of you who bought raffle tickets. It is one of the many ways we work to pay the bills to maintain the Historical Village. Also at the end of August, the Historical Village was awarded a grant from the Tobacco Valley Community Foundation. What a wonderful gift to help us cover the expenses we incurred this past summer including chinking one of the old cabins and painting a building. And on September 9, the quilters will have their annual Fall Rummage Sale at the old school house from 10:00am – 3:00pm. Some great treasures and, of course, all proceeds go towards the Historical Village. Stop by to purchase something you need and/or to talk with the women. The following Friday, September 15, the quilting season officially starts for the year. It is open to anyone who has time on Fridays. Even if you haven’t sewn before, we are happy to show you how. Many of us started out as true beginners and are now addicted to showing up every Friday to stitch. Bring a bag lunch and drop by anytime between 10:00am – 3:00pm. We will even supply you with a needle and scissors to begin this new passion.
Perhaps you are seriously considering coming by on a Friday to quilt with us – or to learn how to quilt. You study the photos that are part of this blog and notice how agreeable the women look who are sewing. But then the balloons on the quilt catch your eye and you wonder what they are used for. Has there been a recent birthday party? Are the quilters prepared to fill them with water to deter anyone from littering on the Historical Village grounds? No, the balloons are actually used for quilting. Sometimes it is difficult to pull a needle through multiple layers of fabric and batting. When it becomes a challenge, a balloon placed around the needle gives the quilter that extra leverage to pull the needle through.