by Sharon Stevens
In honor, memory and celebration of
Jerry Williams and Ruth Holladay
Who on this earth hasn’t heard the “screech” in the Alfred Hitchcock movie “Psycho” without knowing what comes next. I ask you, who doesn’t know what follows? This is one vision that remains blistered in the movie-going psyche from past generations, and are now revived with the new movie coming out. Shadows, knife blades, shower curtains…they all play a part in making the story come to life. But they are all simply “Macguffins”.
Take my hat for example. I have a hat, the most wonderful chapeau you could ever imagine, made special for me to celebrate a Kentucky Derby event at my mother’s church. I had Nikki Sams at Stevens Flowers transform two cowboy hats for this. I felt like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” when I entered their magical world on the courthouse square in Canyon. With outstretched arms I begged them to help me with an idea for my mother and me to celebrate together. Mother’s needed to be respectable while I wanted mine to represent everything patchwork. What they came up with was nothing short of miraculous. Mother’s hat was black sparkly crochet on a gold background with pearls hanging down the back. Mine was every color of the rainbow, interwoven together, connecting each hue to the next. It was covered in crochet, lace, and bright expressions of “bling.” I have never had anything with “bling” before.
We were a hit wearing our hats and had more fun. After the event my mother put hers away and I hung mine on the longhorn horns at our bookstore, and this has been a real conversation starter for anyone who comes in.
At the bookstore I wear many hats, but none more special than this one. I take it down and wear it on story-telling occasions in memory of “Patchwork.” It is my way of honoring Ruth Holladay and Jerry Williams. Both true storytellers inside and out. Jerry would wear a silk patchwork top hat while Ruth donned a patchwork vest with pockets galore. Ruth never knew what story she would tell until she got up before her audience and put her hand in her pocket. Whatever object she pulled out would determine the story she would weave.
I can’t wear my hat without being reminded of all the wonderful stories that surround all of us to be written and shared. Also, when this is perched brightly on my head it brings me courage and inspiration. Downright silly in the wrong setting, it fits perfectly for all ages with its sparkle and bling in the right one. And its not that I’m invisible underneath, but it helps to hide my sheer terror while the audience gushes over the designs and colors woven intricately together.
To me this object represents a MacGuffin. When Harrison Ford promoted “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull” he mentioned that the skulls were a “MacGuffin,” a storied item worth seeking, such as the Ark of the Covenant. This was a phrase first coined by Alfred Hitchcock in 1939 and picked up by Steven Spielburg and George Lucas. Hitchcock describes the meaning as “whatever impels the villains and virtuous characters in a movie to pursue each other through the convoluted plots. The mechanical element that usually crops up in any story…the object around which the plot revolves.” Lucas further strengthened the idea. “A MacGuffin should be powerful and the audience should care about it almost as much as the dueling heroes and villains on-screen.”
I can’t wait to see the Alfred Hitchcock movie, “Psycho” to see the Macguffins placed in the film. To hear the story behind the “screech” and see the knife blades slice in the shower without the special effects we have today will have special meaning.
My hat, my MacGuffin, signifies thousands upon millions of precious stories I can connect together at a drop of a hat. Nikki Sams created and crafted my jewels with the artistry of her grandmother, Montene Stevens who taught her to crochet. Nikki’s mother, Debbie Stevens and grandmother Shirley White shared their passion and the heritage of beauty not just in flowers. Stevens Flowers is also a family business which will be celebrating 75 years this year in the community.
Every time I come into their store I am inspired and linked to another story and memory, and not only because of my hat. When I leave I am renewed in my faith to set my thoughts down in some form or fashion to share with generations to come. Even though those gifted in the flower shop are not milliners, I can only imagine that Stevens continues the tradition of our prairie foremothers (as opposed to forefathers) who must have fashioned bonnets with bits of ribbon and lace, fabric and scraps to renew that which adorns our heart and soul.
As writers we can weave a story together, but you have to have a tangible object to connect it to. Tonight I will have a special occasion to display my special “lid,” my precious chapeau, at the storytelling at Winterfest at the library at Dimmitt Texas.
I will be reading excerpts from the book “One Christmas in Old Tascosa” by Casandra Firman about the pencil. Each person that settles on the patchwork quilt at the library to hear my story will be given a little pencil and a childrens note pad to bring the story together. This precious book was written with stories about Casandra’s mother, Qunitelle Speck Firman Garmany during the days of the dust bowl and Depression in 1931, and I will also try to link and connect Ken Burns PBS series on the dust bowl.
Isn’t that what a Macguffin does? They bring together all the wonderful memories together of hardship and simple joys to celebrate family together.
I will probably keep my hat on display at the table covered with a quilt and surrounded by cloth dolls from my heritage. And the kids will probably have a blast trying the hat on and holding the dolls. My clothes are my role player costume from my storytelling days at the museum and celebrate Mrs. Claus. My husband will be there in his “duds” with the imagination of a “cowboy Santa”. He has a great STETSON to wear just for the occasion and my colorful cowboy hat will fit right in, a mixture of our western heritage and silly celebration. The Stetson came from the West Texas Western Store and his clothes came from the Scully Company with the help of the Hide Out.
All of these are Macguffins coming together to share past and present, I wonder what visions will dance in their heads when they go to sleep tonight. I only hope I can help their dreams to be filled with color and “bling” and not with any “Psycho” running through their hearts.I truly don’t want the kids to think I am some crazy lady who will go bonkers at the drop of a hat. Actually I am quite harmless and I don’t live or work at the Bates Hotel. But on second thought, I do keep my hat speared on the skull of our longhorn mounted on the wall at the Buffalo Bookstore. Hmmm.