Friday, November 16, 2012

Mary Jane Walters Speirs - Grandmother's Shawl

This is a very cute and creative little history of Mary Jane Walters Speirs:
Grandmother’s Shawl
I am a Pioneer Shawl.  I was made in England over one hundred years ago.  I was so proud when I was completed because the weavers said I was fine enough to belong to a queen.
I was taken to a shop and laid on a shelf.  One day a princess came to buy a shawl.  Well, she wasn’t a real princess but she was as pretty and sweet as any princess could be.  I heard someone call her Mary Jane Walters.  Oh, how I wanted to belong to Mary Jane.  She looked at a number of shawls and I was afraid she wasn’t going to see me.  But do you know what; she did see me and without any questions at all she bought me and took me home with her.
Mary Jane took me with her everywhere she went.  There were walks in the park, along the sea shore and even to church.  I was quite strong and could protect her from the cold winds.  Mary Jane always laid me in the drawer when she didn’t need me.
One day I heard a lot of commotion.  I was in the drawer so I couldn’t see what was going on.  I just listened and waited.  When Mary Jane opened the drawer and picked me up I could see everything.  Her Mother was putting a lot of things in a trunk.  I heard Mary Jane call it a steamer trunk, but it was really just a big wooden box.  I didn’t want to be put in the trunk.  I was too young and anyway Mary Jane would get cold.  Well, they closed the trunk and Mary Jane still had me in her hands.  I cuddled around her shoulders and we went out and got in a carriage.  The whole family was there with trunks and boxes.  We were going somewhere.  I soon found out because the next thing I knew we were on one of those sail boats.  I heard someone say something about the U.S. so I figured we were going to the United States.
The first night was a dreadful night.  Everyone was asleep but all of a sudden I heard the funniest noise.  I looked and all the pots and pans had fallen to the floor and were dancing and chasing each other about the ship.  Some men woke up, got out of their berths and tried to catch them but they fell down and went sliding about too.  I heard someone say something about a bad storm.
Mary Jane had put me on a trunk and the trunks were all fastened tightly to the floor so I thought I would be safe.
The storm must have gotten worse for pretty soon the trunk began to move.  It gave a quick jerk and went scooting across the floor.  I tried to stay on the trunk but I just couldn’t.  I was wishing I could make a noise like the pans so I could get help.  The trunk just kept pushing me around on the floor.  Once I got squeezed between the trunk and a box.  Mary Jane tried to get hold of me but it was too dangerous.  She had to hold on to the poles to keep from being thrown across the room as the ship rolled.  When the storm subsided I heard someone say, “It was a terrible storm.  The waves were higher than the ship and one sailor was washed overboard.”
Mary Jane picked me up and when she saw how dirty I was she cried.  She brushed the dirt off me and I cuddled around her shoulders and comforted her.
When we finally got off the ship, Mary Jane kept me with her all the time.  You see she had to walk such a long, long, long way.  I kept the sun from burning her hair in the day time and at night I helped keep her warm.  There were so many things that happened while we crossed what they called  “the plains”.  I can’t tell you all of that now.
When Mary Jane and her family reached their new home in Tooele, she cleaned me up and put me back in the box.  I guess she thought I was getting too old now and needed a rest.
Time passed and Mary Jane had been keeping company with a nice young man.  They said his name was William Harrison Speirs.  I couldn’t hear what they were saying.  They spoke too quietly to each other.  I guess he just held her hand most of the time.
One morning I heard Mary Jane say, “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”  Do you know, Mary Jane was getting married that very day.  Now what was going to happen to me?  Then I heard her say, “Mother, my old black shawl.  That is just what I want.  It is old and it will help keep the dust off my dress and hair as we drive to Salt Lake City.”
They had to travel to Salt Lake City so they could be married in the Endowment House.  I was so happy that I could be with my Princess even for a little while on her wedding day.
After that I wasn’t very useful.  I was put back in the drawer and taken out on special occasions such as old folk’s parties and when people wanted to see me.
I was sad when Mary Jane passed away on December 16, 1928.  Her daughter, Janet Speirs Jensen, took me home with her.  She later asked her daughter, Wanda Jensen Johnsen, to put me in her cedar chest.  I heard them say that the cedar would keep the bugs from making holes in me.  Now they are thinking of putting me in what people call a museum in Salt Lake City.  There are lots of things my age in this museum.  Best of all if they put me there I would have a short history of Mary Jane with me always.  And too, I will be where many people can see me.
History written in 1942 by Wanda Jensen Johnsen
Note from Leslie – This shawl can be seen at the Daughters of Utah Pioneers museum in Salt Lake.  It’s black in color and still looks very sturdy.  It is displayed on the main floor in a case against the wall on the left as you enter the room.

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