A story from the Sew Busy Quilt Guild in Mayfield NY

This afternoon we sang a matinee for not just quilters here in Mayfield (just west of Albany NY).  It was organized by the Sew Busy Quilt Guild and they were able to set up a lovely day in the Mayfield Central Presbyterian Church here and invite the community along to see. We didn’t have a serious time limit (unlike most guild shows), so I added a few extra songs and stories and we ended up on stage for an hour and a half!  Perhaps they were just getting antsy, but they did stand up at the end for us!  Thank you everyone for a great afternoon!

Because we were in a Presbyterian Church and had the time, I decided to sing “My Grandfather’s Brother”, a song about my own family.  It’s about a signature quilt with 833 signatures that was used to raise funds to build my Great Uncle Jim’s first church, up near Parry Sound, Ontario. I don’t sing the song often, because the story is personal, and there are better stories and songs out there, but today I felt like doing it.  Because it’s not in the normal repertoire, my introduction wasn’t cast in stone, and I found myself saying that I find it ironic that the quilt lives on in its flimsy state after over 100 years, but the church that it helped build is long gone. The crumbled bricks and mortar of the church are in a ghost town now.

After the concert, a woman whom I’d met before the show (a member of the quilt guild and of the church) told me how wonderful that story was for her.  The church had been recently rebuilt after a fire destroyed the previous old church that stood on the same land. She and other members of the church had presented the minister with a quilt just weeks before the fire, and it was hanging on the wall of the building when it burned.  The next day the firemen came out of the remains with a grey soggy mess in their hands and they opened it up on the lawn – the quilt. It did not clean up perfectly – there are still some red bleed marks from the redwork embroidery on the quilt – but, considering its story, it is in amazingly good shape. Part of its design incorporates signature blocks from the congregation.

This church is also gone, but the quilt, in its flimsy state, lives on.

There was such synchronicity between how I told the story of my Great Uncle Jim’s quilt and her story about the church we had just sung in.  I had to share it with you! I’m sorry, I didn’t take a picture of her quilt, but here’s my Great Uncle Jim’s quilt, with the 833 embroidered signatures.

My Great Uncle Jim's quilt, that I wrote the song about.

My Great Uncle Jim’s quilt, that I wrote the song about. It is dated 1905.

There were lots of good stories today. One of the husbands let me know about a Barn Quilt that we should see tomorrow on our way back to the Turnpike. Inside that barn there are more Barn Quilts are being made.  He met the fellow making them in the local Lowe’s home improvement  store in the paint department – two men in a hardware store talking quilting!!! It’s such a great image.

Tomorrow we drive back to Connecticut for a concert and Mock Mola class in Simsbury on Wednesday and Thursday.  Our last US dates on this tour are in Boston on the 24th (Mock Mola class) and a concert on Wednesday May 28th there. We’re definitely nearing the end of this wonderful tour! But we still have quite a few miles left to go. The hexagons are going very well.

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4 Responses to “A story from the Sew Busy Quilt Guild in Mayfield NY”

  1. mlm247 Says:

    This is such a touching story. Somebody could develop it into a storybook. The coincidence of two churches, two congregations, two quilts, and two women meeting. Those six degrees of separation sometimes are really small, aren’t they?

  2. Jan Morrison Says:

    lovely story and story within – like nesting eggs…I call that true auspicious coincidence! miss you…

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