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?