Part of the Grover E. Murray Studies in the American Southwest, a book series published by Texas Tech University Press, this new hardcover book by Marcia Kaylakie explores the stories of Texas quilters. The author was recently awarded the Writer's League of Texas Violet Crown Award in non-fiction for 2008.
The President of the American Quilt Study Group, Xenia E. Cord, comments, "Kaylakie has crafted a remarkably fine read, revealing privately held quilts that are touchstones . . . . She knows quilts with both (gloved!) hands, sharing their stories deftly."
One of the stories is the book is about a signature quilt found in a urologist's office in Houston. Marcia took the quilt back to the town where it was born and, with the help of the local historical society, put it on display. (Click on the picture thumbnail to the left to see the quilt.)
Here is her story:
It sometimes amazes me that one quilt could make such an impact, but it does. Taking the Ralls signature quilt back to Ralls is just such an example. The whole town came to see what part of them was once and then returned with so much more to every one to see and share. There are people waiting to see the quilt when my husband and I arrived in town, and after they had seen and talked and listened to one another, they went home. I was astounded when they returned the next day with so many more quilts made by the quilters on the signature quilt.
The elderly woman in the photo is the late Pauline Ralls, niece to John Ralls, founder of the town. Pauline stood with her walker in front of the quilt, and reminisced about names of people long gone as if they were still children. “Why that Johnny, he was always a dickens, such a little devil!” Everyone had stories and information as well as more quilts and quilt tops made by the makers of the signature quilt. Quilts that were more than just tangible objects, but real memories of their mothers, aunts, and grandmothers.
Finding a second quilt in the same pattern as the first was a surprise, as Donna Harris, director of the Ralls Historical Museum (below) and I discovered. Finding a third quilt and the possible whereabouts of a fourth was more than mere coincidence.
I was touched that so many people would take the time to look at our quilt, and then go find out more and return. Yet, in small towns everywhere in Texas, people keep their past so close to them. It is a way of keeping their families and names intact.
I found camaraderie in the telling of stories, the gentle way people remembered their family members and neighbors that made me, for a small time, part of what was real in their lives and I am grateful.
Since my book has been released and is in print, I have really enjoyed meeting everyone has seen or purchased my book and hearing their stories and sharing that experience with them.
One remarkable thing I have noted are how many connections people seem to have with the book and the people and quilts in the book!
A wonderful thing happened at my first book signing on October 19, 2007. The signing took place at Country Keepers in Austin, Texas and was co-hosted by Donna Munson, the owner, and Honey Bee Quilts who are located 2 doors down. Donna is the granddaughter of Annie Rushing Martin, maker of the wonderful red, white and blue World War I quilt shown on page 50 and whose story follows it. We were so fortunate to have the actual quilt displayed in the store for the signing. A woman came into the store to purchase a book and have it signed for her daughter, whom she said was a quilter. I signed the book; chatted with her a moment and she left the store. She returned just a minute later, clutching the book with an odd look on her face. She came up to me and said,”This quilt is my aunt’s quilt!” She showed me the Gone with the Wind quilt on page 194. It seems that Ethel Cox Hargrove was indeed her aunt! The woman told me that her daughter would be thrilled to have the book with her great-aunt’s quilt in it. Later in the month, at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas, the same lady brought her daughter to meet me.
Other wonderful co-incidences have occurred as well. After looking at the book, my husband’s dental hygienist, Susan Wester, who is originally from Panhandle, Texas, told me that she recognized many of the signatures on the 1936 Friendship Quilt shown on page 110. They were the fathers and mothers of her high school classmates at Panhandle High School.
Another woman, Gail Lindley, read the book and pointed out the photograph of the Red and White Irish chain quilt from Yancey, Texas on page 26. One the left hand side of the photograph, just peeping out form the edge of the picture, is the house she grew up in as a child.
I really enjoy times like this when my book has the chance to create a connection for someone. It surely makes a great big state like Texas seem much more like a small hometown.
These stories and many more are found in the book Texas Quilts: A Lone Star Legacy. To order your autographed copy for $39.95 plus Media Mail shipping of $6.50, click on the Buy Now button below.
If you would prefer, your order can be shipped by Priority Mail. To order your autographed copy for $39.95 plus Priority Mail shipping of $10.80, click on the Buy Now button below.
You may also call Marcia with a credit card number or send a check or money order to the address below. Please note: because each book is individually autographed, all sales are final.
3703 Turkey Creek Dr.
Austin, TX 78730