We hear all the time how Road to California is a great event for friends from near and far to meet up. But at Road 2017, it was the first time that we heard how two friends chose Road as a place to reunite after not seeing each other for over 75 years!!
(l-r) Mary Pumphrey and Marion Clute
Mary Pumphrey of Arkansas and Marion Clute of San Marcos in San Diego county, both 86 years young, last saw each other in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1941. From 1938 until 1941, when Mary and Marion were 7-11 years old, they lived one house apart. In just 3 years, the girls became the best of friends. As Marion said, “Mary was my first real friend.” The girls were even baptized together on the same day, March 24, 1940.
Mary and Marion pictured with Marion’s younger sister, Nadine
In 1941, Marion’s family moved to Colorado then to California while Mary’s family remained in Nebraska. Both women later married and had children; Mary had four and Marion had two. They stayed in touch through the years by writing letters and sending Christmas and birthday cards. There were no phone calls between them because it was “too expensive.”
Over the years, Mary and Marion both got involved in quilting. Mary self-taught herself to make a bedspread for her mother in 1980. It wasn’t until 1982 that she began taking classes. She is still an active quilter, doing machine piecing and hand quilting. Currently, she is working on putting together a 1900-era quilt given to her from a friend.
Marion started quilting in the 1970’s. She found a pattern for one of her first quilts on the back of a McCalls magazine: a drawing of Sun Bonnet Sue. It brought back memories of a quilt she had as a child with the same pattern.
She got the fabric for her project from her children’s old shirts and dresses. She made 30 blocks, then put it aside, preferring to work on hand piecing work for other quilts . In the 1980’s, she found the blocks and decided to put them together but she “hated” how it turned out, so she put the quilt aside again. Then, in the late 1990’s, she attempted to work on it once more but only got as far as taking the blocks apart. Finally, in 2008, she decided to revisit the quilt. She made the blocks smaller before reassembling and began quilting it. Currently, it still needs “some quilting” before it can be completed. Marion hopes “that I get it done before I die!”
How did these lifelong friends end up meeting 75 years later at Road 2017? Mary wrote Marion in her annual Christmas letter that she was going to Road to California with her daughter, Linda Pumphrey, a quilt designer and author, former President of the International Quilt Association and vendor with Mountain Mist batting. Marion sent Mary a reply that since Mary was “going to be so close, we have to meet.” They exchanged phone numbers and final arrangements were made over the phone. Seeing each other was “fantastic,” said Mary. “A special, special time,” remarked Marion.
Their reunion also held a fun surprise that brought back a special memory involving their mothers. Both Mary and Marion’s mothers were sewers. One year, Marion and Mary both got a Dy-Dee Doll — the first doll that wet its pants. Marion said “it was the best Christmas ever” when she got that doll. The mothers made complete sets of doll clothes for their daughters’ dolls. However, when they were sewing them, each mother told their daughter that the clothes were for the other girl’s doll!! Mary and Marion were thrilled when they found out that they got to keep the doll clothes their own mother had made!! Those dolls were so important to the young Marion and Mary that they have kept those doll clothes all these years. Little did they know that unbeknownst to the other, each woman had brought along her original doll clothes to share during their meetup at Road!!
Besides their reunion, both women were also able to enjoy the show. What did they think about Road to California? It was Mary’s first time at Road. She had been to Paducah several times and found Road to California to be “so much bigger than I expected.” Marion thought Road was just “jaw-dropping.”
Road to California is a great place for old and new friends to meet up. We just hope that it doesn’t take any other guests 75 years to reunite!!
Do you have a lifelong, quilting friend too?