Growing up, we regularly took trips to Craig to visit my grandparents and other relatives. Craig is a small, sleepy town in northwestern Colorado known, if at all, for mining and ranching. My great grandfather died of black lung from mining. My grandfather worked in the mines for many years and raised my father and siblings in Mt. Harris, a mining town, before the mines gave out and the town was sold off.
My grandfather bought several of the houses in Mt. Harris and, board by board, he and his family dismantled the homes and carted them to Craig where they were rebuilt into a new home with an attached apartment. My Dad’s job was to straighten the nails so they could be reused at the new location.
During my childhood we spent many Easters and other occasions at my grandparent’s home. Grandma was a wonderful cook and seamstress. She could sew dresses without patterns and no one ever turned down one of her pies.
Down three stairs from the living room with the wood stove, which I never remember ever being used, out the back door, through the yard, out the chain link gate and across the alley lived my Aunt Louise. Aunt Louise was all smile and glasses and had always been “old” in my grade school eyes. Her house was a “don’t touch” house with lots of glass objects and only one toy – a board game like chess with medieval figures that she kept in a compartment of her very heavy coffee table. She also had a most amazing kitchen gadget – a waffle iron so old that it had a woven fabric cord cover! I’m sure that it was older than me and probably is still working.
Aunt Louise’s back yard was the scene of regular picnics and cookouts. She had an outdoor grill built into a rock wall with a chimney topping it off. I am pretty sure that we weren’t supposed to climb on it but we did anyway. Her backyard was also home to a legendary garden that produced all kinds of wonderful vegetables for canning and her crab apple tree was the source of countless jars of jelly. When we would go choke cherry picking or up to Elkhead for fishing and cookouts Aunt Louise would sometimes come along.
When Paula and I were married fourteen years ago Aunt Louise couldn’t make it to the wedding but in spite of severe arthritis, made us this beautiful quilt. I don’t know anything about quilting except that there is a quilt shop around the corner from our store. Still, I can tell that a lot of love and time went into making it. It has kept us warm in the winter, covered several children’s beds and has occasionally done duty as a tent on living room camping expeditions.
Aunt Louise died peacefully today at 5pm. I think she was almost 96. She left us with many fond memories of Craig, her smiling hospitality and a quilt that will continue to warm us with her love for many years to come. We miss you Aunt Louise. Requiescat in pace.