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    PO Box 1134

    Wellsville, NY 14895

     

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    alleganyartsassociation@hotmail.com

     

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Barbara Williams Memorial

There's a huge yellow home on Main Street. Over the decades people have crunched their car tires over the gravel to park under the maple trees behind it when they went to visit, laugh and learn in the company of the marvelous Barbara Chapin Williams.

    If Barbara was still with us, she would much disapprove of that last bit. She was not the story. What mattered was the information.
    "Pay attention," Barbara said, "to the issues."
    Barbara spent many of her 94 years in that house and during all of them she focused on big issues: the cleanliness of the environment, the dignity of people, the value of work and workers, arts, humanity, equality, democracy. 
     Barbara celebrated in the house. Spring was celebrated for the promise of warmth and the joy of the carpet of forget-me-nots that covered her lawn. In the spring, the house hosted an annual Easter egg hunt.
    Ages ago, Norman Ives colored eggs with Hilda Stout, Gudrun Scott and others. Anyone who wanted to help was welcome to color the eggs, print braille stickers for each egg and to wrap the eggs in tissue and tie them with a ribbon. 
     On Saturday the yard was filled with gently hidden eggs. Children searched for eggs, ate cookies and made silly hats from paper plates. It was a noisy, joyful time with many friends helping.
     On the 4th of July, the porch was open to adults and children, friends and strangers, when at 2 pm there was the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence.  The Kertons were often there with the Pinneys and Joanne Allen and Will Kennedy. Barbara Cobb would bring plates of cut fruit and iced tea. 
     Barbara Williams felt that this holiday should be more about the ideas and ideals in our experiment with democracy. She liked the picnics and the fireworks and parades but she always had time for the history. 
     In the fall, pumpkins took center stage. Norma Ives always carved on for her and after he died the egg dying friends, including Allison Midgely, brought pumpkins to the house and arrayed them on the porch. Barbara would bring out her ever-present camera to take pictures because what happened one day was history the next day.
     Barbara was often at Bump The Dump events 26 years ago. She burrowed under the hood of her blue, winter coat and pulled bags of cookies and candy from her pockets and her purse and went to people who were standing with linked arms to give them treats and thanks. 
     Barbara didn't want radioactive waste in Allegany County. Just 2 weeks before she died this April, she sent some of her pumpkin-carving, egg-dying, Declaration-reading friends to Cathy Young in Olean to deliver her words. Keep radioactive dill cuttings out of Allegany County. (Cathy Young voted to accept the waste.)
     Barbara meant to celebrate her 94 1/2 birthday in June and though she won't be there the party will go on. Friends invite you to a dish-to-pass Memorial Birthday party at Island Park in Wellsville on Saturday, June 21 at _______________.          Two poems will be read and some songs will be sung. Join us there or send a story to  matherhomestead@gmail.com. For more information call ___________

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