Bluebonnet at the Marshall Train Depot

MBC and Bluebonnet at Depot Centennial Celebration, October 20, 2012

MBC and I have been thinking about Marshall, Texas a lot lately.  And we’re still working on telling the “story behind the story” for each of the Bluebonnet books. Last year, we celebrated my 35th birthday, dated from the time the first Bluebonnet Armadillo manuscript was completed.  This year, we are celebrating 35 years since the first Bluebonnet Armadillo book was published.

But back to Marshall, Texas.  MBC and I were actually drafted to write a book about the Marshall Train Depot.  I received a letter dated October 25, 1995 from the Board of Directors, Marshall Depot, Inc. which stated: “We think that it would be very special for you to visit Marshall’s historical Texas and Pacific Depot.”  That

Letter from Marshall Depot Board of Directors

letter prompted several more letters and phone calls and a trip to visit the Depot and Marshall elementary schools. Marshall Mayor Audrey Kariel and Bluebonnet fan Marjorie Perkins provided MBC with Depot history. And we were inspired by stories of Marshall’s school children who saved pennies for the depot renovation.

Benjamin Vincent and MBC toured the Depot and talked about the use of shadow figures to bring history to life.  Finally, the book was ready, just in time for the dedication of the renovated Texas & Pacific Depot and Museum on November 13, 1999. MBC, her husband, Vic, and parents, Ben and Nancy Oliphint, attended the festivities, because Marshall has special significance for their family.  MBC’s mother was part of the Texas & Pacific Railroad family: her father and grandfather worked for T&P, and her mother, Mary Kelly, grew up in Marshall, graduated from Marshall High School and married John Pegues Kelley at the Methodist Church. MBC and I have especially been thinking about Marshall recently since MBC’s uncle, John Pegues Kelley, Jr., was born in Marshall on Valentine’s Day, 1918……one hundred years ago! He went on to have an extraordinary career as a pianist in New York City. (He died in 2004.)

Invitations and Program for Depot Dedication 1999


Mary Kelley and son John Pegues Kelley, Jr. 1918, Marshall, Texas

MBC considered our book about the Marshall Train Depot a tribute to her roots.  She dedicated the book: “To my Texas and Pacific family with Marshall roots: my parents, Ben and Nancy Kelley Oliphint; my uncle, John Pegues Kelley, Jr. (a native of Marshall); my grandparents, John and Mary Kelly Kelley; my great-grandparents Ely Thomas and Avie Kelly; and my great-grandparents Walter and Exa Kelley.”

MBC and I still like to visit Marshall whenever possible; we were at the depot for the Centennial Celebration on October 20, 2012.  We were even in the “Wonderland of Lights” parade one year. MBC often stops by the cemetery where several relatives are buried, including her great-great grandfather who immigrated from Ireland. And she always likes to stop at Neely’s for a Brown Pig.

Perhaps the best compliment about the depot book was received at Neely’s.  MBC, her parents, and cousin, were having lunch at Neely’s when Bill Moyers, who grew up in Marshall, came in. (Neely’s BBQ is reportedly his favorite place to eat in Marshall.)  When MBC met Mr. Moyers, she noted that she was the author of “Bluebonnet at the Marshall Train Depot.” Mr. Moyers replied, “I love that book!  I read it to my grandson all the time!”

MBC is still glowing about that compliment!

So……what family connections do you have to special places that you could write about? MBC and I hope you’ll pursue those stories, and find writing about them just as rewarding as we did.

Keep reading and writing!

Bluebonnet Armadillo