Darrell Todd Maurina
Patsy Qavi left Melrose for California 23 years ago, but traveled nearly 960 miles with her father to take part in the Melrose Old Timer’s Day on Saturday.
Qavi is just one of many who make the event part of their annual travel plans, according its organizers.
“My father graduated from Melrose High School in 1941 and we always come back every year to see the old house,” said Qavi. “We’ve come back almost every year for Old Timer’s Day.”
Qavi said she enters the annual quilt auction each year, but hasn’t succeeded in winning one yet.
“They are just wonderful and the ladies do very good work,” Qavi said, while admiring the quilts displayed in Melrose High School.
Showing off handcrafted artwork and teaching traditional skills to a new generation motivates the members of the Melrose Quilting Club to display their works each year during Old Timer’s Days, according to club member and show organizer Frances Townson.
“It’s very relaxing if you like to sew,” Townson said. “It’s addictive if you let yourself get started.”
Townson, who has been involved with the quilting club about 15 years, said that while many of the club’s members are older, that doesn’t necessarily mean they learned the skill at home.
“My mother-in-law was after me for years to start quilting, and I said I don’t want to start,” said club member Dixie Jacobs. “Now that I started, I don’t want to stop.”
Townson said club rules require that every quilt must be hand-sewn with no machine stitching. That means not just hours but days, weeks, and sometimes months of diligent work go into each quilt, and ensures that the newest quilt in the show is made with the same type of techniques used for the oldest quilt, one made in 1918 and handed down by a participant’s grandmother.
Old Timers’ Day is also a time for various high school class reunions. Seventeen people representing the Melrose High School Class of 1973 — 12 graduates and five spouses — returned to Melrose for their 30th reunion.
Joe Reed, a 1973 graduate who now teaches high school math at Melrose, returned to his hometown seven years ago after teaching in other cities.
“I know the Clovis schools are on the cutting edge of education, but I like smaller classes,” Reed said. “You have more intimacy with students, you can call up the parents and take care of things if you need to.”
Micky Rogers, the 1973 class president, moved to Clovis but said he still loves to returning to Melrose.
“I come from a large family, four other brothers were here so there were five of us in school all together,” Rogers said. “Small communities are more close-knit.”
“We’re like a big extended family,” said Nathan Scott of nearby St. Vrain. “I’ve known some of these people since we started school. We didn’t always get along, but we stuck together because we were stuck together.”