Lately I am feeling a lot like Peter and Susan in C.S. Lewis’s classic, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. It seems that every time I go to my living room photo cabinet, I find a new treasure. Just before leaving on our trip to New England I discovered another stash of photo negatives from my grandmother’s trunk. I must have tucked them away out of the light when I first unpacked the boxes and then forgotten about them.
Last night I discovered more negatives and another treasure. Nearly 20 years ago we took a trip to Montana for a Boy Scout campout on a local member’s private riverside ranch. It was a fabulous week and after the camp we headed west through Missoula towards Spokane and Coeur d’Alene where we have relatives. The countryside was beautiful, green, hot.
Just outside Couer d’Alene we spotted a country fair and pulled over. The boys weren’t too thrilled, but we trooped around for a few hours and spotted a booth where two beautiful quilts were on display among the crafts and homemade goodies. One was a double-bed size in the Delectable Mountain pattern, the other was hand-embroidered flower blocks assembled into a twin size quilt. Both were pink and white, not exactly colors much used in my house with two boys. The women had only the two quilts for sale, and the price was pretty stiff for our budget, although now it would be a ridiculous bargain. I was surprised that the two women running the booth were actually selling the beautiful quilts. Evidently it was a mother-daughter team and the older woman shrugged off my surprise, “They were ‘extras’,” she said.
My own few sorry attempts at quilting had taught me that it was truly a labor of love and skill. Both quilts were completely hand-quilted and had that lovely soft hand that comes from cotton throughout. As my ever-indulgent husband pulled out his wallet, I asked the maker if she would make a label with her name and the date for the quilts, and although she modestly refused at first, eventually she agreed to take my address and send me the labels.
Now, I know those labels arrived in good time, I remember seeing them sometime, but I have not been able to find them since. I started quilting in 2000 and have often looked at those two spreads with a greater appreciation of the work and skill that went into them. What a surprise to find that envelope with the labels tucked inside a packet of photos from about the same time.
The quiltmaker carefully embroidered her name and the year she made the quilts on each tag. One bears the inscription “Louis Nixon, 1943-1954.” This is the Delectable Mountain Quilt, as I recall that she said she had made it some years previously. I have never heard of the pattern referred to by this name and am unsure of the meaning of the words. A quick search on Google has turned up a few entries in Find a Grave and links to a actor in Band of Brothers for “Louis Nixon.” My best guess is that the quilt might have been made for a person by this name, or the block setting was known locally by the name. Meanwhile, I have a bit of careful cleaning to attend to on the larger quilt and then a bit of hand sewing to finally place those labels where they belong.
Boicourt, Alice L. Quilt dated 1943-1954. Privately held by Denise Levenick [address for private use,] Pasadena, California, 2008, purchased from the quiltmaker in 1979.
Boicourt, Alice L. Quilt dated October 1979. Privately held by Denise Levenick [address for private use,] Pasadena, California, 2008, purchased from the quiltmaker in 1979.
“Louis Nixon.” Blockbase: The CD Version of Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. CD-ROM. Bowling Green, Ohio: The Electric Quilt Company, 2000.