Summer in the (Walnut) Shade

Chapter 9

All the News from Walnut Shade, KS
July 28, 2011

Rachel and Jessica Singleton went to Manhattan on Saturday to help celebrate the birthday of their twin cousins, Hannah and Emily, who turned thirteen.  Mom Jennifer, who teaches photography at K-State, set up a photo booth for the girls’ guests and everyone had a great time having their pictures taken.  Jennifer said she didn’t realize that the booth would hold ten girls at a time.

Rev. Derby and her family were luncheon guests of Hazel and Millie Bradford on Sunday.

Dr. Cramer reports that all the puppies brought to his office by Jane Combs have been adopted.  Jane ended up taking two of them, herself.

Stephanie Barnett is home from school for the summer and has a job working for Stan Hawkins at the Miller County Ledger.

Dorothy Westover reminds members of the Excelsior Book Club that the club’s next meeting will be on August 3rd at the Library.  Dorothy says that she’s been getting calls from members who thought that the August meeting had been cancelled.

Pastor Paul Powers was in Kansas City Monday and Tuesday attending classes at Midwest Baptist Theological Seminary.  He has been taking correspondence classes to complete his Master’s degree, but every other month, he spends two days on campus.

Anna Mae Bundy, Sherri Brown and Connie Thompson went to Kansas City on Monday.  In the morning, they attended a lecture at the Kansas City Public Library, had lunch at the Phillips House and spent the afternoon at Rainy Day Books.

Dale Hunt has been hired by Miller County as their IT manager.

Sarah Heath was elected president of the Willing Workers 4-H Club at their meeting Monday night.  Andrea Duffy will serve as vice-president and Hannah Tucker will be secretary-treasurer.

The Main Street PRIDE committee met last Thursday.  Jeff Corning from the Kansas Pride program and Sally Henning from the Kansas Main Street program attended the meeting.  The committee is making good progress on its entry for the PRIDE competition, according to Jeff and Sally commended the group on completing design guidelines for downtown renovations.  Promotions for the fall were discussed, including the Prairie View Festival in September and Halloween Howl in October.

It seems like there is a lot of activity in town for this time of year.  I think I need a nap, but…

Until next week, I remain
Your Faithful Correspondent

From July 4th to the end of August, Walnut Shade is pretty quiet.  Oh, the tourists come through if the weather isn’t too hot, which it usually is (average daily high in July:  94 degrees), and the Tasty Freeze buzzes at night with the kids hanging out and making a nuisance of themselves, but for the most part, the town slows down.  The gardeners do all their watering before 7:00 a.m., and around 8:00, the farmers who have gotten their chores done come into town for breakfast at Shirley’s.  The downtown shops usually open around 10:00, or 11:00, or 2:00, which has been a real point of contention in the Main Street/PRIDE Committee.  Right now, there are five antique/accessory stores, Ryan’s Garden Center, Sally Oswald’s gallery, the Book Ends bookstore, the museum, Singleton’s Rare Books and Antiques, the coffee shop (Bach’s Lunch), Tyler’s Fine Art, and Dorothy Thornton’s salon (the Beauty Spot), each with an owner who has a different agenda.  Most of the shops are full-time, serious enterprises, owned by folks who know that consistency is a key component of making money.  A couple of the businesses, however, were opened as a hobby or as a way of asserting influence in the town.  Jody Tyler, for example, really sees herself as a writer (she has a blog!) and the gallery is a way to earn some money until she can turn her work into a book or a subscription service.  While she does some of her writing at the gallery, she says that the tourists interrupt her train of thought, so the gallery is open only when it really suits her.  She thinks the sign on the window, which invites people to give her a call and she’ll come down and open the shop, is sufficient.

Lou and Lois Hawkins opened their antique shop as a way of storing the overflow from the collection they’ve accumulated over the years from their annual flea market.  While Lou wouldn’t admit it, they purchased the building they are in, as well as four others downtown, (admittedly at a time when no one wanted the property) as a way of reminding people that his grandfather had been the biggest property-owner in Walnut Shade until the Depression.  Hawkins Mercantile was one of the largest dry-goods stores between Manhattan and Marysville, spanning the entire block between 2nd and 3rd Street.  Like Jody Tyler’s gallery, Hawkins’ Antiques usually has a sign on the door telling people to give Lou a call if they see something they want, if they can see anything through the always-dirty windows.

Sally Oswald, the chair of the Main Street/PRIDE committee, has tried to convince Jody and Lou that the success of downtown depends on everyone having consistent hours and days of business.  The committee, of which Jody and Lou are an essential, contributing part, agreed that the minimum time to be open would be Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00, with Sunday being optional.   But, agreement doesn’t always result in action and most weeks, Jody and Lou will be in their shops when the mood strikes them.  Sally, of course, is ambivalent about this because while not exactly competing with Jody for the art buyers who come to Walnut Shade, she does benefit when customers can see the works she has for sale without jumping through any hoops.  So, she pushes, but not too hard.

I got a call from Mary McCready confirming my participation in the Miller County Art Fair.  The Fair is the second weekend of October and this is the second year for the event.  I suppose it could be argued that this is really the first year, since a freak storm blew threw last year, dropping the temperature to 32 degrees early Saturday morning and then settling in with a cold rain/snow mixture.  A few artists had set up their tents the night before, but when the weather forecast indicated that it was going to be a really nasty couple of days, the Fair was cancelled, much to the relief/disappointment/angst of the artists, some of whom had come from as far away as Kansas City.

I’m not at all sure why I let myself be talked into being a part of the Fair, since I haven’t done anything like this before.  And in talking to some of the artists around here, it doesn’t really seem like something I’m going to enjoy all that much.  Since I don’t have a big inventory of paintings, I’m going to have to hustle to get some work done.  Then, I have to find a tent and way of displaying my art.  That might not be too hard after all; Lou Hawkins has several that he sets up for the flea market.  The thought of sitting there for two days, having people evaluate my work seems a little masochistic.  I’ve had other artist tell me that when someone says they like your work, it means that they aren’t interested in buying it and they’ve seen something they like better at another booth.  Well, I guess I’ve made the commitment and all I can do is paint like mad between now and then and hope for another freak storm.

About stclairc

Abstract artist, photographer, writer
This entry was posted in Art, Dada, Observations, Serendipity, Small Town Life and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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