Quilt won after bidding war during auction
By Barbie Porter
Odd Farbo was a persistent man who understood quality workmanship and the importance of supporting one’s own community. When he learned a centennial quilt made by the New York Mills Garden Club in 1984 was going on the auction block, he made sure to attend the event. A bidding war for the ages ensued.
Jim Parks, Farbo’s grandson who lives in Perham, recalled hearing the fabled story about how the family came to own the quilt.
“I don’t remember the name of the other guy, but he was one that went to town early every day with my grandpa to have caramel rolls at the Mills Cafe, which was near the Eagle Cafe, if I recall correctly,” he said. “They all knew each other well.”
The two men decided they each wanted the quilt. Friendly banter jockeyed between the two, with each one promising to raise the stakes come auction night.
“They ended up bidding and bidding,” the Perham resident continued. His grandpa eventually won and bought the quilt for $440.
Parks recalls seeing the quilt while visiting his grandparents, “I’ve always been impressed with the artists of the Garden Club who created the scenes on each square, and in color. It is a good look at the city’s history.”
The Farbos displayed the quilt for some time on their farm bed, but eventually stored it in the closet, as if they knew they were preserving history for future generations.
Odd Farbo passed in 1998 and his wife, Fidessa, followed in 2003. Their children: William Farbo, Richard Fargo, Dessie Parks, Pat Udelhofen, Gay Phillips, Kay Anderson, Dinah Burkel and Eileen Farbo found the quilt stored away in a closet.
The family decided the quilt belonged with the city as a historical artifact. While reminiscing about the quilt and Grandpa Farbo, Parks said the decision was made to offer the quilt to the New York Mills library.
“Grandpa was a reader,” Parks said. “He read the Times, People, many books, including the Bible four times. He loved to read. It seemed fitting to donate it to the library; we felt it belonged there.”
New York Mills Library Director Julie Adams said she first learned of the donation with a phone call. After graciously accepting the offer, the family brought the quilt in.
“This is our first historical quilt to be donated to our library,” she said. “We’ve had some family history books donated to us, but this is our first quilt.”
Adams went on to thank the Farbo family for thinking of the library, which has been in existence in New York Mills since the 1950s and in the current building since 1988.
“We are working on getting a quilt display rack for the wall,” Adams said. “Once we have it hanging up we will be looking for any details about the quilt or those who made it. I would love to hear it.”
The New York Mills Library is located at 30 N. Main Avenue and is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.