A Letter from Lubbock

For five decades, women from all over Texas traveled to Lubbock to shop at Margaret's. A recent exhibit at the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts highlighted the clothing store's economic and social impact on the city. In excerpts from a letter sent last month to Humanities Texas, Louise H. Underwood reflects on how this exhibit fostered conversation about what became for Lubbock a community institution.

October 30, 2007

Dear Mr. Gillette,

I just want to add my thanks to the long list of people who appreciate the gift you and Humanities Texas gave to "Margaret's: The Art of Fashion," for the tribute paid to Margaret and J. T. Talkington, and to the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts. LHUCA is the beneficiary of your grant because of Margaret’s love for creativity, design and all the Arts. . . .

It was incredible to have seen what two people could accomplish together; how Margaret and J. T.'s spirit, courage, patience and hard work—and their love and devotion to their customers and staff as well as to their business—could inspire and make such a difference. They had an impact on Lubbock's history for a period of almost 50 years—bringing out the excellent taste we have in this community. The money that was spent here came as a surprise to me as we citizens, our own worst critics, always seem to apologize and picture ourselves as being just a poor farming community. However, I do also know of busloads of people who came in from Midland and Amarillo, and the airplanes from all over were full of former clientele and old friends of the Talkingtons who also shopped at Margaret's.

Margaret was not the only one in awe and full of memories during this month. Once more, the magical genius of Kelly Marble, his visionary co-chairs, Kay Sanford, Kay and Tommy Davis and their committee, a few professionals and scores of volunteers turned the Underwood Center into an amazing rendition of Margaret's—with the look and feel of her high-fashion store. One man was heard to say, "I am in seventh heaven bringing my wife to shop to her heart’s content and she can’t buy a thing!" At the style show, many of us also relived some of the years or special occasions in our lives as we watched our own or our friends' daughters or granddaughters wearing some of our clothes.

I wish everyone in Humanities Texas could have seen the exhibit at LHUCA this past month and seen what your sponsorship helped accomplish. Bemoaning the fact of its short run, many well-traveled individuals said this show was so good—something you could only see in New York or London—and it was a sin to take it down. When people began begging us for a "holdover," one of our trustees ruefully said, "If only we had envisioned 18 months ago what an unbelievable task and success this exhibition would be, then LHUCA would have tried to set aside six months so everyone who wanted could have seen it." Who could predict that there would be 1,800-plus treasured garments with accessories taken out of closets, "lovingly" presented to the committee from all over the Plains—although Margaret's has been closed 13 years! Most were in mint condition, many with stories to tell and some still being worn!

You and your associates at Humanities Texas were definitively part of the tremendous enthusiasm and success of this historical and prideful project. It really thrills me to see again that Lubbock is still proud of what people do here and can still get behind a project or a goal if it is something they love and treasure . . . .


Louise H. Underwood

"Margaret's, the Art of Fashion," was supported in part by a Humanities Texas mini-grant. A style show, luncheon, and evening reception accompanied the exhibit at the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts in Lubbock, October 5–28.



Photographs of "Margaret's" exhibit courtesy of Picture Mann/L. Scott Mann. Photograph of Louise Underwood (above) courtesy of Sammie Prather.