On the Move: Boscawen home to a prolific quilter
A recent phone call from Rhoda Hardy in Boscawen introduced me to Beverly LaCoy.
“I read your column,” Hardy said, “and I have someone I think you’d like to meet. Can I give you her phone number?”
And that’s how two weeks later, I traveled to Boscawen to meet LaCoy. We sat on her cozy, screened-in porch opposite two cloth dolls introduced to me as Hillary and Michelle – one blond, white, and one black, each about 16 inches tall, made and dressed by LaCoy.
“I don’t know why Rhoda thought I would interest you,” she said. “I don’t go anywhere; I don’t do anything but sew.” And thereby hangs her tale.
“Rhoda told me that you do fantastic sewing,” I said. “I quilt,” she replied. “Would you like to see a quilt?”
Of course I would.
We adjourned to a bedroom. The double bed was covered with a flowered quilt I would soon see was the top layer of eight or 10 quilts.
LaCoy turned down the top quilt. The next one was made up of 6-inch squares, each appliqued with a different colored pig. Then came “sassy cats,” then “wild roses,” then “churn dash” lined with fabric squares, and at this point, I learned that a counterpane is a quilt with no filling, just a backing. Next came a traditional log cabin pattern, embellished with large, red hearts, then “bugs, flower and birds,” decorated with the same. That was followed by sailboats, pastel-colored fish, an oriental garden with flowers and “pebble” paths, “bears and bows,” “angels” and a Christmas quilt.
At the bottom was LaCoy’s favorite: “A Serengeti Festival.” A story quilt, she called it. There were six table-runner-size panels, each with a theme – the African king and queen, a mother with 18 children in 18 baby carriages, hunters, boys playing marbles, girls with jump ropes, dancers around a maypole. The fabric making up the double-bed-size quilt came from old neckties.
In her 70s, LaCoy’s major pleasure is quilting. She’s made hundreds of quilts and has given away dozens to local charities to warm everyone from babies to the elderly. Her creativity is breathtaking and awe-inspiring.
LaCoy grew up in Penacook. Her mother taught her to sew, knit, crochet, quilt and braid. The floors of her home are covered with beautiful braided rugs. As a young adult, she worked at Hoyt Electric, calibrating electrical instruments. She married her boss. They raised two sons and two daughters and have nine grandchildren. Later, LaCoy worked as a unit aide at the Merrimack County Nursing Home. A unit aide helped with meals, changed beds and transported patients. LaCoy also played the organ for religious services. She loved working at the nursing home. “The caring staff and appreciative patients combined to make it a happy place to be,” she said.
Besides quilting, LaCoy makes shopping bags for the local food pantry and the library. “I’m so lucky,” she said. “All my fabrics have been donated to me.”
We visited her “sewing room,” a 35-foot-long motor home in her backyard. The refrigerator, bathroom, kitchen cupboards and closets are all filled with fabrics and accessories. She has electricity, a sewing machine, a teakettle and a heater. The kitchen counter has become a cutting board.
LaCoy sings in her church choir. Twice a month she makes chocolate peanut butter pies for the church’s ham and bean suppers, and she’s a substitute organist. She’s a member of the Friends of the Library Craft Group whose members – ages 9 to 90 – gather to knit, crochet, sew, spin and weave, or sometimes just to sip tea and chat.
A team of Boscawen women, including Hardy and LaCoy, have made a floor-to-ceiling quilt of photos of Boscawen’s military and naval veterans. It hangs in the town hall.