A Crepe Paper Memory

We never had much, on our small Tennessee farm, tucked away in almost Alabama. But the crepe paper dress is a reminder that there was no needle my mother would not try to thread for me.  

The second grade school play was coming up, and I was cast as Little Bo-Peep. Excited as I was to have the part, I am sure now that when my mother read the note from school, what I saw in her eyes was worry. Worry that we couldn’t afford the material to make the costume. No velvet. No satin. Not even cotton for a dress I’d wear just once.

But after a while, we went to town and bought crepe paper.

My mother made all of my clothes. Homemade was the best she could afford. She’d see a dress in the Sears catalog or in a store window in Florence, Alabama, and say, “I can make it.”  From school clothes to formals, my mother had a gift for making something out of nothing. I was much older before I understood what a luxury it was to have my own personal seamstress through all my growing-up years.

All those creations exist only in memory now, except for one. The crepe paper dress.

I could not imagine how she would ever turn paper—the kind used for wrapping a present or decorating for a party—into a dream I could wear.

But my mother was an artist.

I can see it all, still. With pinking shears in hand, she cut crisp patterns out of newspaper and spread them on the dining room table. Leaning forward, she guided the crepe paper under the Singer’s clacking needle, treadle whirring softly, like a song. Late into the night, she bent over her needlework, straight pins clamped between her teeth, her fingers slip-stitching the hem of the nearly-finished costume. All of it, fashioning from thread and paper and love, not just a dress for the play, but a crepe paper memory that has endured for decades. 

Every woman has had forgettable dresses, expensive brand names that have come and gone. My mother is gone now, too. But I can still remember the feel of the crepe paper on my little girl shoulders. Sometimes I still get the urge to look at the dress, just to marvel at my mother’s imagination and her exquisite handiwork.

I keep it close in a corner of an old bureau. And I keep it closer in a corner of my heart.

Crepe paper is fragile. But this most delicate work of art, a reminder of my mother’s love, has survived for all these years. So has my love for her.

Some things are one of a kind. This dress. And my mother.

Crepe paper dress

St. Patrick’s Day and Secrets and Shamrocks

How is it possible that this was six years ago? My copies of Secrets and Shamrocks had just arrived. So exciting!

Book launch at Barnes and Noble, with friends from Nashville State.

A reader in Ireland.

On Saint Patrick’s Day, let Secrets and Shamrocks take you to Ireland with Jordan Mayfair, who always gets herself involved in a mystery!

“A visit to the verdant Irish countryside is marred by murder. The second in Gobbell’s travel series is filled with delightful descriptions of Ireland and offbeat characters…”Kirkus Review

Two great deals!

For a limited time, my publisher is running a promo for Treachery in Tuscany ebook for just $1.99! Also, the just-released audiobook, Pursuit in Provence, is on sale at Chirp for an unbelievable price – $2.99! June seems to be the month for traveling. I hope you’ll follow Jordan Mayfair as she solves crime in France and Italy!

ebook available June 25-July 2 – One week only! – $1.99
Audiobook available from Chirp – Here’s a link to this deal! You can listen to a sample of the narration by Aimee Barrett.
https://www.chirpbooks.com/audiobooks/pursuit-in-provence-by-phyllis-gobbell

The Jordan Mayfair Mystery Series Available in Paperback and e-book

Thanks to my publisher, Encircle, for circulating this message. Now all three of the mysteries are available in paperback and e-book.

Jordan Mayfair Mysteries

Encircle Publications is excited to announce that Phyllis Gobbell’s award-winning and critically acclaimed travel cozy mystery series, The Jordan Mayfair Mysteries, is available in paperback and ebook! Travel to France in Pursuit in Provence, visit Ireland in Secrets and Shamrocks, and enjoy Italy while reading Treachery in Tuscany, winner of the Silver Falchion Award for Best Cozy Mystery. You can order this wonderful series from your favorite bookseller today!

Praise for the Jordan Mayfair Mysteries:

“…refreshing debut… seasoned with humor and evocative descriptions of magnificent historic sites, this whodunit should appeal to fans of both cozies and traditional mysteries.” —Publishers Weekly on Pursuit in Provence

“A visit to the verdant Irish countryside is marred by murder. The second in Gobbell’s travel series is filled with delightful descriptions of Ireland and offbeat characters…”—Kirkus Reviews on Secrets and Shamrocks

“Gobbell’s enjoyable sequel to 2015’s Pursuit in Provence takes Savannah, Ga., architect Jordan Mayfair and her travel writer uncle, Alex Carlyle, to Ireland. Jordan’s keen knowledge of architecture and history comes in handy in her efforts to uncover the truth. Fans of travel cozies will find plenty to like.” —Publishers Weekly on Secrets and Shamrocks

“If you enjoy travelling or have a special place in your heart for Tuscany, you’ll love this book. …the reader is treated to cooking classes, Italian cuisine, Italian wine and other drinks, cafes, piazzas, bridges, chapels, architecture, interesting districts of Florence, and, of course, an intriguing mystery. …a complicated mystery and an intriguing travel book.”—Susan Van Kirk, author of A Death at Tippitt Pond, on Treachery in Tuscany

“…a very engrossing mystery novel with interesting characters in a charming setting. …the author’s vivid descriptions made me feel as if I were there. This is an excellent read that I can strongly recommend.”—Jacqueline Seewald, author of Blood Family, on Treachery in Tuscany