for The Fence Post
If only a quilt could tell its story — and it did! For an enthralling few minutes, each of the 40 treasured quilts; in a sense, told its own story as farm wives from across Kansas and Nebraska shared memories of what their heirloom quilts meant to their families, during a Ladies Salad Luncheon held on Sept. 26 at the Cuba, Kan., Presbyterian Church.
After hosting a buffet lunch, it was time to show and tell the family quilts which were exhibited by three dozen women attending the church Guild’s Guest Day.
A touching quilt story came from Laverna Huncovsky of Cuba, who was startled, but happily surprised to receive a phone call one day from an aging friend of her late grandmother. The friend, Geneva Havel of Agenda, Kan., relayed that Laverna’s grandmother had made some quilt blocks (quilt pieces,) put them away and later gave them to Havel.
“Geneva asked if I wanted them. Of course I said yes, because I was excited to get something of my grandma’s,” Huncovsky said. Another older friend, Elsie Lawson, told her, “We’ll get them quilted,” and soon sewed yellow banding around the quilt blocks. “That was so sentimental to me, and I don’t even think Elsie charged me for it,” Huncovsky said. As for the unusual yellow color, “Well, I wasn’t sure about the yellow, but it’s okay. I would’ve picked something a little darker,” she said. “It doesn’t match my house, but I hang it on a quilt rack.”
The timing was precious, including that phone call from Havel, who died not long after. A few years ago, Lawson also passed away, but left behind a legacy by sharing her gift with many others.
A heartwarming story came from a young mother of two toddlers, Tynan Dowell of Republic County, Kansas, attended the event with her grandmother-in-law Ledona Dowell of Narka.
“These two quilts from the Dowell family were gifted to me at my bridal shower by Diane Dowell,” Tynan told the attentive crowd. “They’re believed to be from my husband Matt’s great-great-great-grandma.” Tynan also showed a wedding quilt from her own grandmother Dellis Dick. “My grandma quilted a wedding blanket for all her 13 grandchildren,” Tynan said. “Although she recently passed away, I try to continue to live out her legacy.”
Quilters converged at the event from over an hour away in several directions. Carpooling to the event with several friends from Beloit, Kan., Alice Colby caught quick attention from a quilt she showed which was made from several men’s ties.
Proudly noting the red, white and blue patriotism in her quilt, Munden, Kan., Mayor Jimmie Blecha’s wife Ronda excitedly joined the group and exhibited a quilt that she assembled.
“I made the first block, and then a friend Kay Dyke machine-quilted it for me. The Quilt Guild also helped,” Blecha said about her local guild.
PLENTY OF STORIES
In a story that almost told itself, a crib-sized quilt that was saved for over 70 years was displayed by longtime Cuba Guild member Joyce Dowell. “This was actually my husband Harold’s baby quilt,” she said.
“Wows” from the crowd were heard when a king-sized Grandmother’s Flower Garden design quilt was unfolded and held up for display. “Sadie’s first love was flowers. Sadie was at the long-term care wing of the hospital (Republic County Hospital in Belleville,) and took it upon herself to go outside and water the hospital’s flowers,” said Peg Lesovsky of Cuba detailing the later years of her husband’s grandmother Sadie Smith. Smith also took great heart in making flower-adorned lap blankets for hospital patients who used wheelchairs. “Sadie was always sewing,” Lesovsky said.
Uniquely, a bright colorful quilt comprised of individually embroidered squares and created by a young teacher Cay Wildfong of Beloit, Kan., was shown by Willfong’s friend Beverly James also of Beloit. James, a former school principal in Formoso, Kan., who taught school for 50 years including country school, proudly exhibited Willfong’s detailed handiwork to fascinated “oohs and aahs” from many of the quilters, including long-time quilters.
Carefully holding two favorite family quilts, Deb Trecek of Cuba, told the stories of the two quilts. Trecek’s late grandmother Jennie Adkins crafted a quilt with help from her church guild in Toronto, Kan., during the hours when she wasn’t working full-time at an agriculture implement dealership.
“My grandma helped grandpa with his Allis-Chalmers Dealership in Toronto, and she was his bookkeeper and parts manager and basically ran the store,” Trecek said. Her second quilt showing was also a friendship quilt assisted by women from the local Cuba Guild including cherished current members Margaret Lachman and Melva Parrack, as well as by several others who have since died; Pauline Trecek, Libby Shimek, Elsie Nobert and many others who embroidered their names in the quilt block squares, which live on in their handiwork.
“I’m saving these quilts now for the kids, but we’ve used them on our bed, they were used by our kids and our grandkids to play on.”
One of those quilters who meticulously contributed to Deb Trecek’s family quilt is 95-year-old Melva Parrack of Cuba who still attends many social events and works out three days a week in a local exercise class. Parrack brought an off-white quilt that her mother Julia Kopsa made in 1942.
As a tribute to her grandmother, senior citizen Lorene Chizek of Republic County, Kansas, exhibited a quilt made in the late 1800s. “My grandma Lily Berrier made this quilt,” said Chizek, who is also part of the current team that’s in the process of launching the church’s latest quilt project that will be auctioned off at a community fundraiser. Adorned with bright purple blocks in the center, the quilt intentionally left available a large space so that eventually placement of two bed pillows won’t obstruct any of the detailed handiwork.
A retired church pastor from Agenda, Kan., Kathy Aeillo told the crowd, “All of these blocks on this quilt are related to God and church,” as she showed a quilt created and tied by the Scandia, Kan., United Methodist Church Guild. Her quilt also included a personalized inscription sewn in.
Awarded a Blue Ribbon at the 2019 North Central Kansas Free Fair for showing a quilt made by her mother, Jane Baxa of Cuba, who attended with her sister Judy Pachta, pointed out the detailed embroidery on the quilt made by their mother, Elsie Nobert. Baxa and Pachta also showed several other embroidered quilts that their mother created.
With memories swirling of her grandmother many years ago often taking her to Quilt Guilds, lively senior citizen Beanie Fiser of Belleville proudly showcased a Double Wedding Ring patterned quilt.
“My grandmother, Myrtle Ravena Springer Dresslar, of Randall, Kan., gave me this quilt,” Fiser told the women. Ravena, who was born in 1888, passed away in 1995. Fiser, whose memories included hours of quilting with her grandmother, and now a long-time quilter herself summed up her passion for quilting and where it all began through her own personal story; “My grandma,” she said, “was my best friend.” ❖
Editor’s note: Hadachek also showed — with great passion — a patriotic quilt made by her sister-in-law Patti Benda. Benda had given the quilt to her father Gene Hadachek several years ago to thank him for his military service in WWII in The Battle of the Bulge under Gen. George Patton. Benda had sewn Gene’s military photo and service information on the quilt back. Sadly, Gene Hadachek passed away just after Christmas 2018. Then, a few months ago during a family remembrance service for Gene Hadchek and his late wife Katherine, Benda gifted her eldest brother Larry Hadachek (Amy’s husband) with the precious quilt, on which she had now also sewn in Larry Hadachek’s military photo with his Vietnam War service details. The quilt stories of Gene and Larry were emotionally recalled, with great appreciation for their service to our country.
— Hadachek is a freelance writer who lives on a farm with her husband in north central Kansas and is also a meteorologist and storm chaser. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.