SPIRIT


SPIRIT

By Sharon Stevens

 

February is such a short month. So many anniversaries, so many birthdays, so many celebrations, how do you choose just one to write about. Mardi Gras, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, St. Valentine, George Ferris of the Ferris wheel, and now Pope Benedict. Amazing what you can find if you just stop, look and listen.

They all have one thing in common, one specific agenda they refer to, and not just an inward strength, but an outward resolve. They all have spirit…and strength…and passion…and dedication in some fiber of their being. Their faith may be different, their homeland, their families, but, one by one, they simply have one common path that leads them to their next destination.

Today Mary Badham visited the campus of WTAMU to talk about her role as Scout in the Harper Lee story of “To Kill A Mockingbird”. What an impact this movie has had for over fifty years! We had just seen, “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Lincoln” at the Varsity Theater here in Canyon, two powerful stories from two different centuries, and two separate wars. The message will always be the same. The resolve to tell the story will remain strong no matter how far apart the witnesses are.

And the spirit then leads me to the Steven Spielburg and Debbie Allen movie, “Amistad”. John Quincy Adams advises that “in court, the side with the best story usually wins.” This leads the abolitionists and the lawyers to try to find the story, the true story of their plea, and this eventually leads to the Mende’s freedom.

As writers we can pick and choose thousands of stories on millions of topics or maybe it’s the other way around. How lucky we are to go through life with an eternal link to every tale we want to tell. Ecstatic or crestfallen any of us can weave the ultimate experience and use myriads of words to do it with. Turning right or left the case can be stated, the arguments debated, tabled, stricken, laid to rest.

But the spirit still remains.

In “Amistad” Cinque, along with his fellow countrymen on trial for their life and their freedom. He told John Quincy Adams that…“If one can summon the spirit of his ancestors then they have never left. The wisdom they fathered and inspired will come to my aid. Then I will reach back and draw them into me. Then they must come, as I am the whole reason they have existed at all.”

Today is Valentine’s Day!  You can choose chocolates, flowers, stuffed animals, cards, or countless other tangible expressions to express your sentiments. It is your spirit alone that helps you to choose what best conveys the spirit of love to your loved ones.

But I would like to leave you with a simple thought that brings up the spirit of love to me. Paul Stookey wrote, “The Wedding Song (There is Love) in 1969 for the wedding of his friend Peter Yarrow, of Peter Paul and Mary. This beautiful song was sung at our wedding when we married in 1972 and sung at both our daughter’s wedding as well. Happy Valentine’s Day to my sweet husband for not only this day, but for all the days to follow!

“…The union of your spirit here has caused you to remain, for whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name, there is love!”

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PHONE HOME


PHONE HOME

By Sharon Stevens

 

“The only hope is at home.”

Matt Laur

Recently on a trek out of town my husband and I stopped at a convenience store in Clayton New Mexico. As always I picked up the local newspaper and came across an article from fifty years ago dated October 3, 1962.

Operators of the local telephone company quickly rushed Mrs. Brown, and Jeanine Brown, sister of Charles G. Brown, to the R.E.A. office. On three extension phones the family had a fine time visiting for 22 minutes with Charles, stationed 450 miles north of Tokyo on the Korean front lines. Charge for the 22-minute (phone) conversation was $88 plus taxes, which made for the total of $105.60. The Browns think it was worth it.  

Without a doubt I know what transpired. When the call came in one of the office workers was sent on a mission to locate Mrs. Brown and Jeanine. They may have been at the dry good store, the soda or the beauty shop or any of the other shopping opportunities. Wherever they roamed in town someone was able to find, and then rush them to the office for the long distance chat with a loved one so far away.

Oh the wonder and beauty of small town life!

Today at the Buffalo Bookstore Connor Woods, a young WTAMU student on staff with The Prairie came in researching information about local authors and writers. Within minutes we had pulled articles and books from the entire panhandle area and shared the rich treasury that surrounds us.

This reminded me of the time when I was working on our heritage project fifteen years ago. I had visited with LaRae Scott at the Canyon Public Library. Within the hour she had pulled over 300 sites so that I could link to the research I was interested in.

As writers we can visit with anyone at any time about some facet of our story. There will be someone, somewhere that can connect us further or lead us in the right direction. Every person at our public, college, or museum libraries will guide us with the information not only at their fingertips, but also within their heart. Many have a passion that just cries for expression.

This week celebrates the release thirty years ago of Steven Spielburg’s, “E.T.” and Elliot’s ride across the moonlit sky so the Extra Terrestrial could PHONE HOME. I wonder if it would have taken E.T. so long to get to his destination if they had visited a local librarian and researched how to call his family. How much would it have been worth if they enlisted the help of someone knowledgeable.

And a reminder that we will be celebrating Homecoming week for WTAMU. The theme for this year is COME HOME and reminds alumni and community alike to return to gather together on behalf of our college and its rich heritage and legacy.

Come enjoy the Homecoming parade, Fair on the Square and all the festivities Canyon has to offer. It will be well worth it. After all, we are already Home.

ROLLER SKATES


ROLLER SKATES

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