There was no program in January, so I have no words for tonight. One time before, I had nothing and Kayleigh said, "Make something up!" So, Kayleigh, I took your suggestion. Here is my made something up.
There was no program in January because Mother Nature is very fickle. If she doesn't want snow, there is no snow until the very last day of January. I hope she doesn't decide to clobber us in February.
On Friday, Evelyn and I were working on the display cases, just the two of us. Have you ever been in this house without a crowd? I looked around at this beautiful house and I am always in awe of the unique little details that make this house special.
I had to go into the kitchen, and I stopped short. My mid flipped me back to the 1940's. Nostalgia makes us think that life was simpler and easier then. Every generation thinks the one before them was much easier than theirs, but in reality, each generation has its hills to climb.
I pictured Miss Matthies rattling around in this big house all by herself with her dog Blondie. Her housekeeper lived in a faraway part of the house, but I don't think they shared any time together. I wondered if she was lonely and at times did she wish that perhaps her life would have been different.
Katherine Matthies was an icon in Seymour. Everybody knew her and the house she lived in. Perhaps she intimidated us small town folks and we never put ourselves forth to become her friend. So we never got to know Katherine Matthies the person. We knew only the myths that surrounded her. After her death, her house and its contents went to her Katherine Matthies Foundation. I was told they found her diary and that the family burned it. I am sure it did not contain the weather or other trivia. I imagine it was full of her personal feelings and the goings on in the town. Too bad the family did not leave it with a trustee with orders that it was not to be read until the Matthies family was gone.
Alese Kummer told me the following story, and I will pass it on to you.
The Kummers were planning a Christmas party. They lived up the street from Katherine. They discussed at much length if Katherine would come to the party if invited. Finally, David gave the order, "Oh, let's ask her. She could refuse or make an excuse that she already had plans." Much to their surprise and delight, she showed up for the party . She mingled and made small talk with the everyday people of her town, some of whom probably depended on her family's factory for their week's pay. She stayed to the end then thanked the Kummers for a wonderful and enjoyable evening. I guess for once in her life, no one cowtowed to her or waited on her. And no one asked her for money!
I would pass this house many times and I knew I would never get the chance or a reason to see the inside of her house. One day during the Kummer reign, Harriett Healy Martin asked me if I would give her a hand in the house. Harriett was a member of the historical society and was sort of in charge of the upkeep of the house.
Maybe some of you or your kids remember Harriett. She was in charge of the Bungay School cafeteria when all the food was made by hand and from scratch. Her way! Her family farm was most all of the property around the Bungay School area. The Healy family was one of Seymour's early settlers and her father served as Seymour's representative in Hartford.
Back to my getting inside the house, which I finally did, even though Harriett had me chasing dust bunnies. She laughed and commented, "Elsie, did you ever think you would be cleaning Katherine Matthies house?"
I was in awe of this house, but sadly, it was badly in need of T.L.C. Nothing worked. It was a neglected, deteriorating landmark with its fate unknown.
Then along came a bunch of new cats that had plans and visions for this house that was dying. They set up a plan and they knew it would take time, money, and lots of work. They were going to need seriously dedicated volunteers that would not give up and quit.
They looked for restoration money wherever and from whoever had anything to offer. The work started slowly, one thing at a time, but you know when you start any repairs, you open up a hornet's nest. Murphy was making sure his law was working along with the hornets. At times, it was two steps forward and one step backward. Soon the house started looking good, but once again, funds were needed to continue.
A grant from the Katherine Matthies Foundation would be submitted. After many capable heads worked on the grant to make sure every "i" was dotted and every "t" was crossed, the awarded the grant!
The work started and moved along nonstop under the watchful eyes of dedicated watchdogs that checked in all the time. I was newly elected to the board and was surprised to see how well this board worked together. For me, this was a revelation and almost a miracle because all the members had a voice and a vote unlike the former board that had only one vote. Foresight told me that the Seymour Historical Society was going to die, but it did not.
Thanks to all the dedicated members of the Seymour Historical Society, the house is now beautiful inside and out, like it never was before. All who come here marvel at everything they see. The Seymour Historical Society was born again, and today it is alive and thriving with interesting regular programs.
Our greatest gift is to the children of Seymour, our Educational Program, which tells the children all about where they live and how important we were in teh building of America.
This program was Barbara Junko's dream and she made it come true.
These children will be sitting in your chair and my chair in the future. Hopefully the torch will keep passing on, making sure that the town of Seymour, once a part of the Darby Plantation in the Colony of Connecticut, takes its rightful place in the history of the making of our great nation.
Comments from your Hysterical Historical Historian, Elsie.