Fifty years ago, a handful of like-minded woman gathered around a wood quilt frame to make cooperative masterpieces.
They were the Ennis Sewing Circle, and the quilts they pieced together have adorned the beds of Ellis County for half a century.
The public is invited to attend the Ennis Sewing Circle 50th Anniversary Quilt Show Sunday, March 9, 2-4 p.m. at the Sokol Hall, 2622 E. Higway 34 in Ennis.
Sadie Kubin is a charter member. She started the group with a handful of friends from the Karel Havlicek Borovsky Sokol who also enjoyed the fellowship of working a needle and thread around a quilting frame. They paid 10 cents a month for dues, and almost every time they met, they produced two quilts.
“We just got together and had a lot of conversation,” she remembers.
That conversation was frequently conducted in Czech, the language of their forefathers; the women were of Czech descent, and the club was known to them as Krouzek Ceskych Zen.
Other charter members included Bettie Houdek, Sadie Kubin, Mary A. Laznovsky, Alene Skrivanek, Millie Vytopil and first president Mary Kopecek.
The majority of them spoke only Czech as children until they were old enough to go to school. Today, it still takes very little prompting for the familiar language to surface in the course of conversation.
Sylvia Laznovsky recalls that once she went to English-speaking school, she stopped using Czech — at which point her parents started sending her to stay with her Czech-speaking grandparents for a few days at a time, a sort of “refresher course” that kept her bilingual.
“I was always glad my mother and dad insisted we speak the language,” she said.
Most of the talk around the quilt is in English these days, and the number of hands to stitch with is getting ever smaller.
The Ennis Sewing Circle would love to have more women join the group — anyone who wants to quilt is welcome to join, and should you want to learn a few words of Czech, you’ll find willing teachers — but today’s women seem to be too busy, said Bessie Laznovsky, who has already started her third quilt for the new year. “They don’t have the time — they’re babysitting or teaching or doing something,” she said. “The circle is getting smaller and smaller.”
“We’re having the quilt show hoping people will come and look and hoping some might join,” said Georgie Rose Morales, who joined the group for the same reason some of her peers did — family tradition.
“My mother Mary Vrla was a member — that’s why I joined, and my sisters come from Arlington and Fort Worth to quilt with us,” she said.
Many of the ladies have joined the group since their own retirement. Eleanora Pelzel came aboard 14 years ago. At the time, she was the only member who was either not of Czech descent or married to a Czech. She has since discovered a