Patty Elwin Davis

(b. 1929)
Day Before Yesterday, 1998
Cotton, 61 x 62
Gift of the artist  2000.13

Ithaca, New York resident Patty Elwin Davis grew up in Waterbury. This hand-appliquéd and hand-sewn art quilt pays homage to the bucolic environment in which she was raised – on a dead end street in Mill Plain.  She shared her stories of growing up during the Great Depression – they are documented on the quilt:

My earliest memories are of a simple frame house with a front porch on a short hill street that met

its dead-end in front of an enormous apple tree. Beyond this house the land gently sloped down to a pleasant river. Behind the houses and across the river were open fields and woods. Wild flowers – lady slippers, jack-in-the-pulpit, buttercups and Indian paint brushes – were everywhere. Our house was one of three, side by side, on this hill. In each house lived a family with five children. The fathers took large boulders and constructed a dam across the river making s swimming pool/skating rink. They planted gardens; they took apart the car for weekend entertainment. The mothers sewed our clothes, canned vegetables and found time to organize a bridge club. We, the children, learned to swim and to skate. We made up all sorts of original games. Colorful tradesmen inhabited our world – the ragman with his sullen cry, the ice man with a timid horse. He would give a sliver of ice to any child who asked for one. We always asked.

Years passed, the war came. We moved to another part of town. But this place remains in the heart – woods, fields, apple trees, a river and hordes of happy children.