by Sharon Stevens

In honor, memory and celebration of

Jerry Williams and Ruth Holladay

Who says, “you can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd”? Just because Roger Miller celebrated this fact in a song he wrote and performed doesn’t mean it can’t happen. It’s just not a good idea. One, it disturbs the buffalo and two, skates don’t skid well through patties.

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 a hook 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.

So I was reminded of my chapeau while running across to the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum to deliver books to the author Jodi Thomas, guest speaker for the Canyon Chamber of Commerce-Women in Business breakfast. I left my hat behind at the bookstore; it would have been out of place at a professional event such as this. I try to reserve it only for special projects at the museum, library and story time hoping to make a memory for someone.

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.”

My hat, the 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.

Yep, I didn’t wear my patchwork hat to the Chamber of Commerce breakfast. It just wouldn’t do. I know enough not to roller skate in a buffalo herd either. But you can bet your bottom dollar I will be wearing my special “lid”, my precious chapeau, at our Buffalo Bookstore during the WTAMU Homecoming parade Saturday October 8, 2011 or I’ll eat my hat. Believe me, with all that bling it won’t be very tasty.

This year’s theme is Mardi Gras, and me and my colorful cowboy hat will fit right in, a mixture of our western heritage and silly celebration. I might even have to go next door to The Hide Out and buy some beads to add more bling. Isn’t that what Mardi Gras is all about?

Don’t look for me to lead the buffalo mascot and accompanying herd in the homecoming parade though; it’s just not my place. Wait a minute, what if I can find a pair of roller skates. Hmmmm. Can you imagine what a MacGuffin that would make?

Sharon Stevens



by Sharon Stevens

The Amarillo Globe News issue of September 7, 2011 contained the note; “Today in History-In 1940 Nazi Germany began its eight month blitz during World War II with the first air attack on London” This date in history brought back my memories of the aftermath of September 11th.

On September 15, 2001, just four days after the destruction of the World Trade Center, my mother and I were sitting in the audience at the Amarillo Globe News Center for the Performing Arts waiting for the overture of Amarillo Opera’s “Kismet”. My mother, Mildred Freeman, a Bravo supporter with the opera for many years invited me to accompany her as a birthday gift.

As always Artistic Director, Mila Gibson appeared onstage to introduce and thank everyone for their support. This year was truly somber as the tragedy was still unfolding in New York, the devastation overwhelming.

Mila related how after Desert Storm she had considered postponing the opera, and that Margaret Harper shared her story during the war years. Margaret related that her husband Dr. Ples Harper worked with government intelligence in London England. In between bombings they still attended concerts and performances in the city parks. This was something that not only lifted everyone’s spirit, but showed the enemy they could not be cowed, and they would not back down.

That evening, even the program reminded us of all that we treasure in our city and brought out all that was good that surrounds us. It contained the names of the performers onstage and within the orchestra pit, most students and professors of Amarillo College and WTAMU. The technical crew with lights, sound, costumes and sets were also listed every page was filled with colorful advertisements supported by every business in the Amarillo and Canyon area. Truly, as always, a community endeavor.

Ten years later I wished I could remember Mila’s exact words. Not only did she bring up such wonderful memories of our beloved Margaret Harper, but she touched on all that brings us joy and solace throughout history, in all wars, in all pain, down through the centuries and generations. I will never forget as we took our seats that night in 2001 we watched an Amarillo doctor make his way down the aisle visiting with those he knew about the safety of his daughter who worked in New York City. How he and his family must have enjoyed this one night together with music and pageantry without the onslaught of ugly images flooding their sight.

This year’s performance of Amarillo Opera will be in October. “La Boheme” is the age-old story of love and death, poverty and wealth. The heritage and legacy of the arts will continue to live on in the hearts and souls of all who encourage and support the community.

Mila Gibson is no longer the artistic director. The Harper’s, the Brantley’s, the Moore’s, the Raillard’s are all gone now, but they will continue to have the best seats in the house.

With the anniversary of 9/11 we will continue to mourn the lives that were lost. At the same time we will celebrate those who came together then, and continue to minister to those connected to this terrible tragedy now. At the end of the performance I, along with those seated around me will rise and give the cast and crew a standing ovation. We will applaud their efforts to transport each of us beyond the footlights away from our earthly cares for just one moment in time.

I hope they will be able to hear my “BRAVO” from the audience mixed with the chorus of all the Angels in Heaven that took just a moment to stop and listen.

Sharon Stevens

Tribute to a Patriot

Tribute to a Patriot


There won’t be any promotion of my novel or cowboy talk this time. I would like to pay tribute to my cousin, Bryan Nichols.

I’m sure most everyone is familiar with the Chinook helicopter shot down recently in Afghanistan. Bryan was the pilot. The funeral overwhelmed me in so many ways. My heart aches for his wife Mary, his son Braydon, my uncle Douglas and aunt Cindy, and all the family. The military service was precision and included a fly over by two Chinooks at the gravesite. My wife and I were in total awe. The words spoken about Bryan by his fellow service men was high emotion. But let me tell you what had the most effect on Dianne and I.

We saw the worst, and the best of America. The worst? The Baptist loons from Topeka were there doing their protest. One woman’s sign read, “Thank God for dead soldiers.” When you see on television or hear about what they do, it makes you mad and disgusted. When it’s directed at one of your own, there is a completely different set of feelings.

Let me assure you, the good far out weighed the bad. I’ve never seen that many American flags in one day in my life. The American Legionnaires stood six feet apart and completely lined the street and grounds of the school where the service was held. They all held flags, the sincerity chiseled on their faces. They did the same thing at the cemetery and there had to be close to 500 of them. Several of them had come from Olathe Kansas the day before, attending a funeral for another soldier killed in the same incident. These men and women are all volunteer and not compensated. God bless them.

The most amazing thing of all that restored and validated all my pride and love for this great country, were the everyday citizens who lined the highways and city streets showing their support. It was forty miles to the cemetery, and people with flags were there for the entire route. The two small towns we passed through were ten people deep on both sides of the street. This was not organized or planned or promoted by any group. These folks, on their own, knew of the fallen local hero and took the time and effort to demonstrate their appreciation for Bryan’s service and his family’s sacrifice. I would have thanked every one of them personally if I could.

Please remember everyday what these fighting men and women are going through. They ain’t doing for the money. They do it for you and me and their country. The greatest country on earth.

Joe Nichols