This weekend our friends at the Centre County Historical Society are hosting a program in conjunction with its summer long exhibition, Arts Festival at Fifty: Stories of the Early Days. The program takes place at 2:00 pm, Sunday, September 18 at the society’s Centre Furnace Mansion, 1001 East College Avenue. It’ s called Arts Festival: Remembering and Making Memories. In other words, it’s “show and tell” for adults.
Baby boomers should remember “show and tell”. It seemed to be standard fare in elementary schools everywhere when I was a kid. The brave among us stood at the head of the class and told our classmates about a new pet turtle, model of the Mercury spacecraft, lunchbox, or what have you. In the dark ages before digital social media, it was how children shared their news—by talking! Our teachers made sure that even the kids in the back row heard us and saw what we were taking about.
The CCHS’s Festival-centric “show and tell” could be about purchases, concerts, people you met, or even your very first chicken-on-a-stick. It’s about your favorite memories!
The first thing I remember purchasing at the Festival was back in the snow fence era, before artists started using tents. In other words, I bought it when I was in high school. It was a painting of a tree, presumably in the winter, after its leaves had fallen and blown away. The image was a stylized tangle of black branches on a bright—and I do mean bright—yellow background.
A moderately talented high school kid could have painted it; it was no threat to the National Gallery. In fact, it would have been perfect for the cover of a high school literary magazine. After all, nothing says deep thoughts and bad poetry like a stark image of a tree with no leaves.
Apparently it said something to me and I hung it in my bedroom. At some point I decided that I’d rather do anything than read a high school literary magazine, especially one containing poetry. My mother moved to a new house when I was in college, and for lack of a better painting, hung it in her breakfast nook. It remained there until my brother and his wife gave her some fiber art—this was the 1970s, after all—for that spot over the breakfast table.
I’m not sure what happened to the painting after that, but fortunately I didn’t find it in 2002 when my mother died. It’s hard enough to face the death of a parent as you clean out their house without facing yet another example of your youthful bad taste.
I still have the second thing I purchased, a pocket watch display case. It looks like the top of a Pennsylvania German tall case clock. An artist named Peter Gottlund made it. He won the 1992 Guy Kresge Memorial Award—the Festival’s Best in Show award at the time. I put my grandfather’s pocket watch in it. The case and the watch have a place of honor on the mantelpiece in my living room.
I recall that Peter Gottlund gave up doing art shows not long after winning our top prize. According to Google, he lives in Kutztown and posts regularly to something called the Wooden Boat Forum. Presumably he likes boats more than art festivals. Our loss is wooden boats’ gain.
I hope you’ll bring something to this weekend’s program. It’s sure to be a lot of fun. And you’ll get to see my pocket watch holder. I’ll be bringing it to the event, of course!