Sunday, November 17, 2013

Aunt Martha

I recently mentioned my paternal aunt Martha Cheavens in a post about my latest Material Mavens quilt.  She was an amazing person and a wonderful aunt!  I'll never forget the time that she, visiting my family in Austin, persuaded my parents to allow me (17 at the time) to fly to New York (my first time in an airplane).  She lived in Connecticut, but her sister Sallie, another beloved aunt, lived in Queens Village, New York, with her family, that included three cousins I adored.  I also visited Martha and husband Hugh in their home, and Martha took me into "the City" to see a Broadway play ("Pajama Game") and to eat at a Japanese restaurant.  This was before the days of the sushi craze; I have no memory of what we ate!

My older cousin David also accompanied me into Manhattan.  I best recall, with him, attending a popular television show of the era, the show that eventually caused a big scandal, "The $64,000 Question."  David also took me into a bar for the first time in my innocent young life, and because he was 18 and legally allowed to drink,he  impressed me mightily when he ordered a cocktail!  Some might find it very hard to believe that it was in this visit to New York when I first tasted pizza!  We had lots of Mexican restaurants in Austin, but no pizza parlor at that time!

So many responders to my blog post were interested in the book I mentioned, SPUN BY AN ANGEL.  It is a lovely book that would likely be termed a "young adult" novel now, but it wasn't her only book.  I also own a novel she wrote for adults called CROSSWINDS.  Martha was perhaps best known, however, during the 1930s and 40s, for short stories that were published in women's magazines such as MC CALLS, THE LADIES HOME JOURNAL, and GOOD HOUSEKEEPING.

Two of her short stories were adapted for the movies, and I own DVDs of these movies.  One was PENNY SERENADE, starring hearth-throb Cary Grant and Irene Dunn.  The other was SUNDAY DINNER FOR A SOLDIER, which featured Anne Baxter and John Hodiak.

SERENADE I have watched many times.  It truly is a tear-jerker and was loosely based on an episode in my aunt's own life.  I don't think I could re-watch this movie any time soon, as the death of a daughter is the centerpiece of the movie.

The two DVDs of these movies are readily available, and though her books are out of print, I've been successful at finding especially SPUN BY AN ANGEL online, books which I've ordered for my own children.  I also own the magazine story which was turned into the movie starring Cary Grant.

Thanks to all who seemed interested in my aunt, who died in 1975.  You can learn more about her at

The illustrations inside the front cover of CROSSWINDS


  1. I so enjoyed reading about Martha and I also went to Wikipedia for more. Do you have a photo. Did you know her children? What treasures!

  2. Thank you for sharing this portion of your family history with us. Love of books obviously runs in your family. I'll hunt for the movies and books online.

  3. Fascinating! Thank you so much for this additional information about your aunt. I think your NY city memories are great…I also think making a quilt based on your aunt, her books, stories and your adventures with her would make a fabulous quilt! I love Penny Serenade, although you are right that it is a real tear-jerker.

  4. Thank you, Alice! I have the books and the Penny Serenade DVD, but I was unaware of SUNDAY DINNER FOR A SOLDIER and just ordered a copy from Barnes & Noble. Merry Christmas! -Mark

  5. So interesting, Alice --- thank you. ss