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Sunday, November 14, 2021

New Mexican Block - Pieces Of The Santa Fe Trail

Here is this month's block for Pieces of The Santa Fe Trail Sew-Along, hosted by Melva at Melva Loves Scraps. This sew-along follows the memoirs of Marion Russell, who traveled the Santa Fe Trail in a wagon train during the mid-1800s. This block is the New Mexican Star and is representative of an excerpt from Marion's story about meeting her future husband, her marriage, and the birth and death of her baby daughter.

Marion's love story is so simply written, yet it is riveting and poignant. Melva encouraged us to write down our own love stories to preserve for posterity. Our kids know our story by heart, and there is not a whole lot to it! We met in elementary school when my husband and family moved from the "big city" of Tulsa to where I lived in a tiny town south of Tulsa. We started "going steady" when we were 14, went to the same college, got engaged at age 20, and married when we were 21 in 1969.

My Mom and Daddy dating in northern Oklahoma

The more interesting story to me is the love story of my Mom and Daddy. My Mom was raised by her aunt and uncle in rural southern Missouri. Mom was born in 1912, and her real mother died when Mom was 2. Her real Dad was forced by the hard financial times of those years to ask Mom's aunt and uncle (who were childless) to raise her. When Mom graduated high school, she became a teacher and taught in a one-room schoolhouse in her hometown. During one of her breaks, she went to visit her biological Dad, who lived in the tiny coal-mining town of Catale in northern Oklahoma. After Mom arrived she walked to the post office. My Daddy was standing on a porch reading a newspaper as Mom walked by. As she glanced at him she caught him peering over the newspaper to get a better look at her. They soon became acquainted at a church service and fell in love.

Mom about age 20 circa 1920s and a later photo of Daddy in the mid 1940s

Mom was 20 and Daddy was 17! They had a three year long-distance relationship and corresponded by letters. They were so much in love and only had infrequent visits, and they became so lonely for one another they decided to get married. Daddy had only gone through 8th grade and finding jobs was hard, so he worked as many odd jobs as he could find. What Mom earned as a teacher was very little, so their decision to marry was a difficult one with an uncertain future, especially during The Depression. But they were young and in love!

This photograph Mom sent to Daddy in 1933. It was made in her aunt's front yard in Missouri
and the caption on the back reads "Don't I look lonesome? I was thinking about you."

My fashionable Little Mommy early 1930s. She made her own clothes!

They married on a clear and very cold December day in Catale in 1935 and honeymooned that night at the home of one of Daddy's aunts. Daddy's youngest brother lived with that aunt, and they both kept knocking on their bedroom door, asking if they needed extra quilts or wanted something to eat, purposely being pests and telling them jokes through the closed door and making them laugh. Mom and Daddy had three children and never got rich, but they were successful in SO many other ways. The fact that I still pine for my childhood and our home in Oklahoma indicates what a happy upbringing they gave me! They were happily married almost 50 years before Daddy died from a heart attack at age 67. Their sweet love story still makes me cry even as I write about it.

There is only one more block to come on the sew-along, then the blocks will become a quilt! This sew-along is so enjoyable and meaningful. You still have time to catch up! You can see more details on Melva's blog and view the linky party for other versions of the New Mexican Star right here.


  1. You made a beautiful block, Linda!
    And I love reading your family history.
    This past week I was thinking to write a post about my dad and mother.

  2. Oh I just loved reading that love story and pored over the photos. Even though times were hard, in every photo I see of years back, most people took care with their appearance, always wore shoes etc. it is such an aaaaah moment. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Your block is lovely, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your family history. The photos are wonderful!

  4. Wonderful block and fun to hear the stories of young love. The Mexican star is a favorite block and I have a quilt with one on it. It is one my husband doesn't really like to have changed out- although there are others I would like to change up once in awhile.

  5. This is a wonderful story of your parents’ love affair. What precious photos! Thank you for sharing them. Your mother was a lovely young lady. Your memory of a happy childhood is much like mine. We had little money but I was blessed with a mother and dad who loved each other and loved and wanted me……what a blessing!!!!!Carol in Texas

    1. Thank you so much Carol! It was good for me to write it down. I wish they were around for me to hone the details, but I was able to recall the majority of the story. :)

  6. What a wonderful story of your Mom and Daddy, Linda! I loved seeing your old photos, too. The block you made for the qal is beautiful - I think it's my favorite one so far. Glad you're enjoying this qal so much!

  7. What a fun story. Your mother was lovely.

  8. Wonderful to read about your parents! Those photos are priceless

  9. I love the story you shared! Thanks so much for participating in the sew along and sharing the stories you have with each block.

  10. Your block is beautiful. You parents love story is a treasure. You look like your Mother. Sounds like your parents were born in the same era. Thx for sharing. And congrats on your love story. Hugs.


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