When Crystal Austin decided to look for a book little did she know the journey that trek would take her on. “My father used to sing ‘My Pony Boy’ to me as a child and now that I’m a grandmother now and I wanted to sing it to my granddaughter but I couldn’t remember anything except the chorus,” stated Austin. “So I contacted the publisher to get a copy of the book with the song in it, “For a Cowboy Has to Sing’ but was told it was out of print. Then I decided to write the author, Jim Bob Tinsley, who sent me an autographed copy.”
From there Austin became a pen pal with Tinsley’s wife Dottie. Dottie and Jim Bob own a small non-profit cowboy museum in Brevard, NC. Austin would send them ‘crafty type’ items to sell there so the museum could make a few more dollars. “Then I thought I should make something more than just something crafty so I decided to make a quilt after Dottie sent me several cowboy shirts,” stated Austin. Even though she had never made a quilt in her life and hasn’t made one since. “They asked cowboys for the ‘shirts off their backs’ and people gave them to them and Dottie sent them to me,” stated Austin. Two years later, the ‘Threads of a Cowboy Quilt’ was complete.
The quilt was a tribute to Tinsley, who has sung with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. Tinsley passed away in 2004 after a bout with Alzheimer’s. In August of 2004 the final 33rd shirt arrived and the quilt face was completed in November. Shirts were donated from many famous cowboys including Fess Parker, Dusty Rogers, Clint Walker and others.
The quilt has been traveling the country along with its creator and was in Pigeon Forge as part of the 6th Annual Saddle Up! Celebration held this past Thursday through Sunday. A poster with a picture of the quilt has been created and sells for $15 with proceeds donated to The Alzheimer’s Association in memory of Jim Bob Tinsley.
The quilt will eventually be auctioned off, possibly in July, with the proceeds going to the museum. To view the quilt or for more information on bidding who can go online at www.threadsofacowboy.com or call 1-828-884-2347. “We had it appraised for $21,000 and it took three weeks to appraise,” stated Austin. “But we hope that it goes for much more than that.”