Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Dickens Victorian Village’

Seneca Lake Pottery Designed by Chuck and Shana Fair

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Chuck and Shana become a Victorian couple during the Dickens Victorian Village season.

   When people retire, they often search for something to fill those empty hours. Chuck and Shana Fair found the perfect retirement project – making pottery. They took classes at OU Zanesville and had so much fun that Chuck decided to set up a studio in their garage. That led to the creation of Seneca Lake Pottery.

   Shana grew up on the water at Lake White near Waverly so Seneca Lake seemed the perfect place to retire. She loves the feeling of weightlessness in the water and enjoys meeting a school of fish as well as exploring the beauty of the underwater colors.

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Chuck became the town crier for Dickens’ Opening Night.

   Chuck grew up locally near Kimbolton and met Shana when they were students at Ohio State University. They married after graduation and each had fulfilling careers. Chuck worked as a buyer in the electronics industry, where he saw the progression from tubes to transistors to microprocessors. Shana’s career led her to work as a library director.

Chuck at Potter Wheel

People enjoy watching Chuck throw a pot on the wheel.

   Today at Seneca Lake Pottery, Chuck focuses on wheel throwing to create pots with strong lines. He embellishes his pots by altering the thrown forms, adding texture and finishing with bold glazes.

   He frequently demonstrates making pottery at downtown events and festivals. People, especially children, gather around to watch his creations magically take form.

Shana at SF Festival (2)

Shana displays yarn colored with natural dyes.

   Although pottery was new to Shana, she has been interested in crafts since she was a Brownie Scout and wove her first lanyard. Since then her passion turned to creating objects in macrame and she is presently working on a window treatment.

   She also hand spins yarn, silk, and cotton using her great-great grandmother’s spinning wheel. Then she dyes the yarn with native plants such as marigolds, onion skins, walnut husks, Queen Anne’s Lace, or insects. These were the kinds of natural materials the early settlers could find near their homes.

 

Seneca Pottery at Ellie's Cottage

A display of their Seneca Lake Pottery can be seen at Ellie’s Cottage in downtown Cambridge.

 Last season Shana created some beautiful pottery Christmas ornaments with silkscreened original sketches of the scenes done by Bob Ley before the Dickens Victorian Village project ever began. The idea was so popular that she is going to do more scenes this year.

Santa's Stockings

Collecting for Santa is one of the roles they play at the Byesville Rotary Club.

   Both Chuck and Shana are active in not only the making of pottery but also volunteering in the community. They are a husband/wife team that works together at so many functions.

Chuck at Rotary Chicken BBQ

Chuck enjoys working the chicken BBQ on a Rotary weekend fundraiser.

   They play leadership roles in the Byesville Rotary Club by organizing events to help the community. The Rotary Club provides scholarships to many area youths, Health Screenings. and Christmas food baskets to mention a few of their projects.

Shana - Guatemala

Chuck and Shana traveled to Guatemala to present books for their Literacy Program.

   A recent mission trip took them to Guatemala where they donated books to the Literacy Program there. This country is making an attempt to be self-sustaining, so Rotary is assisting with scholarships and books to help keep children in school. The Fairs enjoy meeting interesting people wherever they travel.

Creative Team 2015

They both are part of the Creative Team that designs the Dickens Victorian scenes.

   They also are a tremendous help with Dickens Victorian Village in nearby Cambridge. In fact, without their long hours spent with the Dickens Creative Team, the Victorian scenes may never make it to the streets. Chuck is the carpenter in residence as he builds and repairs platforms as well as figures. He is now responsible for making the framework for any new or replaced characters.

Shana Mannequin head

Shana recently put the finishing touches on one of the mannequin heads.

   Shana has been working on the scenes for years as she has an eye for perfect costumes. Her needle and thread are often at work here. In the last couple of years, she has expanded her talents to making the heads for some of the figures.

Downtown Potters

Chuck and Shana enjoy demonstrating their pottery skills in downtown Cambridge.

   Both Chuck and Shana will be found in the Heritage Arts Tent at the 50th Anniversary of the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival demonstrating their creative talents. Chuck will be throwing pots on the potter’s wheel while Shana will be demonstrating slab building on molds.

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thumbnail_2t Shana--Cpt. Don's

Chuck and Shana enjoy scuba diving in the Caribbean.

   They enjoy exploring new places so take exciting vacations each year. A favorite spot is the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean where they enjoy scuba diving in the coral reef at the National Park. This year their plans are to head to Glacier National Park on a Roads Scholar tour.

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Chuck enjoys the view on one of their adventures at Bryce Canyon.

   As you can tell, this is a busy couple. When asked what they do for relaxation, both answer, “Gardening.” Chuck also enjoys golfing and woodworking while Shana, with her library background, enjoys reading a book at the water’s edge. They both enjoy frequent trips to the theater.

   Chuck admonishes young people to “keep an open mind about what is going on around you. Don’t be complacent about what you learned in your childhood.” Chuck finds changes in technology fascinating. “There’s no way to guess what you are going to see in life in the next hundred years.”

   People like Chuck and Shana who share their talents are vital to the success of the community. We’re happy they decided to make their home on Seneca Lake.

Kiyoe Howald – Frequently Featured Artist

Kiyoe Hope and Despair

Kiyoe’s painting, “Hope and Despair”, carries a story of life during WWII in Japan.

Light can vanquish darkness as long as you never lose hope.

Born in Japan during WWII, Kiyoe knew what it was like to live in despair on the island of Hokkaido. As a nine year old when the war ended, her family had neither food nor fuel. So Kiyoe and one of her seven siblings would pack up kimonos and dishes, then bundle up and take the train to the country. Putting these items on a sled, they would then trade for potatoes, radishes, and wood to keep their home warm. They traded until they had nothing left.

Years later, she would compose a picture depicting life as she remembered it then. The picture is called “Hope and Despair”. Kiyoe feels the picture perfectly describes the world she lived in during WWII. In her mind, “No child should ever have to feel that way.” Even in the midst of despair, Kiyoe’s collage tells people there is hope that things would get better.

Kiyoe Art Show

Kiyoe’s Art Show in Zanesville featured paintings showing her love of nature.

This popular painting, “Hope and Despair”, was part of an art show at the Zanesville Public Library recently. It attracted much attention as Kiyoe shared the story of her painting, which showed so much hurt being present. The light showed good things to come. All the people in the painting are shown leaving to go to Northern Europe. You can feel their pain through her art, and others are touched by the symbolism.

At an early age, Kiyoe’s teacher in Japan noticed her artistic ability. She did art work in middle school but put art on the back burner to help care for her family in Japan. Years later she moved to Tokyo to find a better job as a tour bus guide so she could send money to her mom.

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A Christmas card?  No this is a hand painted cake, which won first prize.

It was here this beautiful Japanese lady met her husband, Senior Master Sergeant Larry Howald, while he was serving in the Air Force in Japan after the war. They enjoyed hiking and running together. Before he went back to the States, he asked her to make Japanese shawls for his mother and grandmother.

On Valentines Day, Kiyoe received a card from Larry saying, “Come to the States and marry me.” Since then, Larry has been a great supporter of Kiyoe’s artwork.

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Birthday cakes were one of Kiyoe’s ways of sharing her art years ago.

Her daughter, Miki, and son, Arn, remember the beautiful cakes their mom decorated with pictures that looked like paintings. She has won several cake decorating contests. Her art was being kept alive in a different way at this time of her life.

Kiyoe Pottery Vase

Kiyoe’s hand painted vase was part of a community art project in Zanesville.

After retirement from Larry Wade, where she was a seamstress, Kiyoe began taking classes and workshops about watercolors. Bill Koch’s watercolor class was a big influence on her revived interest in art. She has won first prize with many of her paintings around the area and even at the State Fair. Kiyoe’s work is always in demand.

Mannequin dressing

Making hats for the mannequins at Dickens Victorian Village gave her creativity a boost.

Volunteering for Dickens Victorian Village took many hours of her days for years. She began by making skirts and capes for the Imagination Station at the Visitors Center. Making hats became a new fun venture.

Kiyoe Howard

Recently she created mannequin heads resembling John and Annie Glenn.

Later, she made several of the mannequin heads that line the main street of Cambridge during the holiday season. In her mind, “Working at Dickens made me more creative.” Kiyoe’s current project for Dickens involves creating a new head for Father Christmas as his head has severe water damage.

Rock Garden

Her rock garden represents tranquility in a busy world.

“There’s always something new to learn.” Those words from Kiyoe are no surprise as she constantly explores new artistic endeavors. Currently, she is taking a Carving Class in Parkersburg, where she is learning the beginning steps of wood carving. Her goal is to someday carve a Buddha.

Kiyoe Alaska

On a recent trip to Alaska, nature again caught her eye.

She also teaches acrylic and watercolor classes in Zanesville. Origami classes have also been taught by Kiyoe as she enjoys making these meaningful objects, a Japanese tradition.

Since she doesn’t look her age, it makes one wonder how she stays so young. Every week she attends a Tai Chi class and a Yoga class. She never runs, but does walk three miles at least once a week.

Kiyoe Waterfall Series

In her Falling Water Series, her subjects are waterfalls that exist in peaceful, hidden canyons.

In the spring, Kiyoe will have an art show at First Friday in Zanesville. This event is sponsored by Zanesville Appalachian Arts Project. She finds associating with other artists quite rewarding. Even though she is a bit on the shy side, it’s a real pleasure for her to participate in artistic endeavors.

One thing she has yet to try is brush writing. When she finds someone to teach her some basics, this will be her next artistic challenge.

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This card created by Kiyoe has her name written in Japanese.

Kiyoe takes great pride in her work and enjoys having others appreciate it. Her beautiful smile and humble manner make everyone comfortable in her presence. Like Kiyoe, may we always be searching for new things to learn.

 

Teacher Learns About Polar Bears in Icy Arctic

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Sometimes even polar bears just want to have fun.

Not everyone would consider sleeping in a tent on the ice the perfect vacation, but Bobbie Henderson thought it a great adventure. Over the past few years, she has made not one, but two trips to the far, far north just to get up close and personal with polar bears.

While she’s had a long-time passion for animals, one day while teaching an eighth grade class, they watched a film about polar bears. At the end of the film, it told about possible tours on the tundra where you could see polar bears just outside your window. Bobbie was hooked.

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Three polar bears relax in the setting sun on Hudson Bay.

Her first polar bear expedition headed to Churchill on Hudson Bay in the far north of Manitoba, Canada. Northern style shops lined the streets of this small town. Sirens went off to alert people when a polar bear came to visit. They even had a polar bear jail, where they placed tranquilized bears until they could be taken back to the wilds by helicopter.

At Churchill, a group of 32 boarded Tundra Buggies set high off the ground to take them exploring. Once they reached camp, the group settled in for a week of visiting polar bears.

Headquarters consisted of a stationary area with seven modular sections. Camp here was spartan, but comfortable…with excellent food. Showers were limited to two and a half minutes as all water had to be heated, while outhouses stood on the edge of camp. Overall, a relaxed atmosphere.

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The highlight of the trip for Bobbie was when this polar bear stuck its nose in the tundra buggy window right beside her.

Half the group would go polar bear watching in the morning, while the other half went in the afternoon. On one of these trips, windows were left down to take better pictures. The thrill of the trip for Bobbie was when one polar bear, 10′ tall, actually stuck its nose in the window right where she sat. She could have reached out and touched him…but took a picture instead.

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Forty polar bears were sighted on her first expedition.

One strict rule here states: “Don’t even think about feeding the bears.” Feeding was discouraged as it would make the bears too familiar with humans, perhaps causing both of them problems. If anyone did feed a bear, they were taken from camp in a helicopter at their expense. Bears find their own food and enjoy a steady diet of seals. They can eat a hundred pounds of blubber in a single sitting.

On that first expedition, Bobbie saw 40 polar bears in their natural environment. There’s a reason that Manitoba is called “The Polar Bear Capital of the World”.

bobbie-tents

Their yellow tents were the only sign of civilization in this Arctic wilderness.

Her second polar bear adventure began in Nunavut near Pond Inlet on the northern tip of Baffin Island. Now she was 700 K north of the Arctic Circle! This small town said their biggest problems were drugs, family abuse, and alcohol. They did have a couple television sets and computers, which broadcast in their native Inuktitut language.

Snow machines pulled them to camp this time on 18′ komitak sleds…three people to a sled. The ride took eight bumpy hours. Camp consisted of bright yellow tents on the ice with an insulated pad underneath and a very warm sleeping bag. Native Eskimos served as guides and someone stood guard around the clock to make certain no bears invaded the camp.

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Bobbie, their guide Dave and Jenny from Australia listen through hydrophones to the world beneath the ice.

The reflection of the midnight sun off the ice gave members the worst sunburns on their faces that they could imagine. They would reach outside their tents at night to get ice to cool off their burning face.

Perhaps it was due to the weather, but on this trip they only saw four polar bears. They first faced blizzard conditions but by the end of the week, it started to rain, so ice was melting in spots especially along the crevices. Now the komitak sleds had to jump the crevices making for a very rough and wet ride back to town.

Living on the frozen ocean, they explored ancient ruins of the Thule people, followed tracks of polar bears in the snow, built snowmen and created snow angels. Each day provided another unique adventure, which made this magical place a once in a lifetime experience.

bobbie-classroom

Ms Henderson brought back her experiences and used them in the classroom.

Upon her return, Bobbie shared her Arctic adventures in her Florida classroom. She used the trip to teach spelling, vocabulary, map skills and wildlife conservation. Bringing personal experiences to the classroom always enhances learning. Now she enjoys sharing her experiences as a substitute teacher here in southeastern Ohio.

bobbie-collectibles

Her house is overflowing with polar bear memorabilia.

While Bobbie was glad she did both trips, she wants to return to Churchill again because she saw more bears there, and camping was a little more relaxing. Since she likes cold weather, Greenland, the North Pole, and Arctic regions are places she would enjoy visiting.

bobbie

Bobbie volunteers at Dickens Victorian Village, where she dresses as a lovely Victorian lady.

Animals like Bobbie. At her home near Cambridge, she keeps several dogs, cats, and rare macaws. Deer hang out at her back deck. But if you happen to see a polar bear there, it’s just Bobbie in her polar bear costume.

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Sometimes she enjoys dressing as a polar bear.

Walt Taylor: Creative Inspiration to the Community

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Walt instructs one of his students in the proper way to use a pottery wheel.

One of the areas where Walt Taylor excels is passing on his love for art. That’s why he enjoys sharing his knowledge with adults and especially young people, as they’re our future artists.

As a small child he lived on a farm in Lebanon, Ohio where  he attended a one-room school that was very typical of schools in those days: no running water, out door toilets, a pot bellied stove, and a paddle hanging on the wall behind the stove.

Walt had a story to tell about that paddle. A school bully pushed him around one day and Walt swung his lunch bucket, and hit the bully in the head knocking him to the ground. Both were taken inside and leaned over a desk for a paddling. First, the bully received a stern thrashing while Walt quaked. When it was Walt’s turn, the teacher swung the paddle one time so hard it hit the side of the desk and broke in two. No paddling for Walt that day. Doesn’t sound like an accident on the part of the teacher to me.

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He enjoys creating one of a kind vases with floral applique.

The family moved often. His father said, “A rolling stone gathers no moss, but it gains a great polish.” At one time they lived near Fort Ancient and Walt followed his dad around the field when he was plowing, and found many arrowheads. 

Woodcrafting has been a hobby since he was a young man. His building skills still go on today as he makes cabinets, chairs, and recently a communion stand for a local church that had just rebuilt.

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This talented man made these oak chairs and the cabinet behind them.

For the past few years, he has been making one new chair for their dining room each year. But he said he has been procrastinating about finishing the last two. He even joined the Procrastinators Anonymous, but they haven’t had a meeting yet.

He also enjoyed working on automobiles so developed mechanical skills as well.  That came in handy as he and his wife, Sheila, motorcycled all over the country. His favorite places to ride were in the mountains out west. It was in those mountains of Montana, where they saw the work of western potters, that an interest for making pottery began.

They also discovered many things on those back roads that you just can’t see from the interstate. He thought he noticed something that looked like Stonehenge on one such road, but it turned out to be Carhenge. Here cars were buried front first in the ground. Then there was the House on a Rock, a motel on an Indian reservation, and the list goes on.

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Walt holds the first piece of pottery he ever made…out of kitty litter.

It wasn’t until 1992 that Walt tried his hand at pottery. At Octoberfest, he purchased his first kiln and making pottery has become his passion ever since. The first bowl he made was out of ‘unused’ kitty litter! He learned that kitty litter had a clay base and when mixed with a little bit of water could be worked into shape. That bowl still sets on his bedroom stand today.

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Walt and Sheila  have attended many festivals in the area to display and sell their creations.

To begin with, he made pottery items just because he enjoyed doing it. Then he began giving them to his friends, who told him that he should be selling them. That began a business they ran until last year, Taymoor Pottery…a combination of his last name and his wife, Sheila’s maiden name.

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Walt has a smile on his face while working with youngsters at Art in the Park during the Salt Fork Festival.

Walt and Sheila, hope to teach youngsters to enjoy art as much as they do. They’ve helped teach children’s art classes at the Salt Fork Festival for several years. Wherever Walt is making pottery, children can usually be found watching. Talking about children always brings a smile to his face as ,“They are fun to work with. If you treat them as equals, they accept you as you are.”

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Walt greeted visitors as Father Christmas for ten years, with help from Sheila.

For the last ten years, Walt has portrayed Father Christmas for Dickens Victorian Village. He would meet buses on the street or in the Welcome Center and probably has his picture in many family albums as a result. He’s not sure if he’ll be able to do that this year at the age of 91.

Even though the business is closed, they still enjoy making pottery. Now they make just what they like. Right now Raku, a Japanese style is a favorite. It was first used by the Japanese Emperor and was known as a ‘throw away pottery’. The emperor would drink his tea, then throw the cup against the wall.

walt-raku

His current favorite project centers around Raku, a Japanese form of art.

Raku is a ‘quick fire, quick cool’ kind of pottery so it would be fired and ready for supper quickly. Today in the United States a glaze is added and it’s no long a throw away. Actually it’s so attractive you wouldn’t want to throw it away.

walt-fishing

Walt still enjoys a day on the lake with his fishing pole.

Walt is just ‘a good old boy’, who has taken an interest in the community in many different ways. Thoughts of travel still skip through his mind and he often dreams of living in Hawaii or Tahiti…or at least visiting. Our world could use more of those ‘good old boys’.

Joel Losego Lights Up the Holiday Season

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This spectacular Holiday Light Show brings visitors back again and again.

One of the main attractions during Dickens Victorian Village’s season is the spectacular Holiday Light Show at the Guernsey County Courthouse in downtown Cambridge. This did not happen overnight. It took over a year to design the first light show – a gift from Grant Hafley, with programming help from Joel Losego.

lite-brite

Joel’s favorite toy as a youngster was Lite-Brite.

According to his mother, Joel has always been interested in lights. In fact, as a child, his favorite toy was Lite-Brite. At a very young age, his parents said that he had the lights on their Christmas tree blinking in rhythm.

When he was six years old, his summers were spent helping his dad on construction. He saved the money his dad gave him that summer to buy a CB radio, which he still has.

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These are the AVC stations you enjoy.

As a middle school student at Buckeye Trail, he began working at AVC Communications in Cambridge. He continued working there until he graduated from Ohio University. Helping owner, Grant Hafley, an electrical engineer, Joel learned to design flashing lights with control boards for area dances.

He also volunteered doing sound at his church, the State Theater, and Living Word during that time. Sound intrigued him, Joel remarked, “I always knew what I wanted to do.”

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The radio station sets high on College Hill.

Then Joel headed off to work in various states on national television networks developing internet and website experience. Basically a home body, Joel served as a beta tester for new software in his spare time. While working for ESPN at special TV events, it became necessary for him to travel all over the country.

Joel missed his family during this time and knew he needed to make some changes. Who should call but his old friend, Grant Hafley. Grant said he was looking for someone to buy AVC Communications. But he wanted a person who would keep the community spirit alive.

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Joel conducts much of his business from the computer at his desk.

The moment his life changed was six months later in 2005 at Disney World, a magical place indeed. Joel talked to Grant Hafley during the Disney Parade, and finished the deal for the purchase of AVC. He was on his way back to Guernsey County, a place he never expected to return.

About this time Grant Hafley, who supported Dickens Victorian Village, wanted to do something special to draw more people to town. Lighting up the courthouse to make it a show seemed like a possibility.

Then a year of plans began with help from Grant and a programmer from Arizona. During the second year, the show became Joel’s ‘baby’ and he has been the only person programming it ever since. Right now he is teaching another young person how to continue the operation.

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This picture of Joel’s computer screen shows a touch of his planning.

Programming is a tedious process. Every two minutes of light show for the courthouse takes over eighteen hours to complete. Needless to say, Joel spends a lot of time at the computer designing the program. It takes time and patience to synchronize 55,000 lights to over 150 Christmas songs.

courthouse-tree

The Christmas tree was put in place at the courthouse near the end of October.

This year’s light show had a few major changes. For the first time all the lights were LED so the courthouse seems brighter than ever.What appears to be fireworks appears above the courthouse roof.

On the courthouse steps, four lighted trees form Craig’s Christmas Quartet. This is the first time an entire song has been sung and it’s acapella in four part harmony. This is a tribute to Craig, the caretaker at the courthouse, who has been so helpful to Joel and friends over the years.

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Ctaig’s Christmas Quartet appeared for the first time in 2016.

As a way to get people directly involved with the light show, Joel has used an idea from Disney. A Magical Lightshow Wristband has been designed with a computer chip. When this wristband is at the courthouse, it becomes controlled by the light show and flashes along with it.

This is the first time anything has been sold to raise money for the light show. The cost of the wristband is $20, but you must remember “It’s not a toy. It’s a computer.”

wristband

This Magical Lightshow Wristband flashed with the music.

When asked about his favorite Christmas music, Joel paused as he enjoys so many. Finally, he admitted that Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Carol of the Bells, Gene Autry’s Rudolph, and Andy Williams’ White Christmas were among his favorites.

One of his favorite pastimes will surprise you. He enjoys going to the courthouse light show anonymously to listen to comments about the show. “It’s fun watching other people watch the show.” There he finds ideas for the future as well as improvements that can be made.

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Grant Hafley and Joel Losego talk to visitors from the edge of the crowd.

Ten months out of the year, Joel works approximately thirty hours a week on the programming for the Guernsey County Courthouse Holiday Light Show. November and December, when it is running, are his months off from programming. But he’s always handy in case there’s a problem with the program. Most can be fixed from his computer, wherever he happens to be.

When Joel gets an idea, he usually jumps right in and makes it happen. One thing he has put on hold is a trip he wants to share with his wife to Maui. His dream places them at a resort, overlooking the ocean at sunset while having dinner. He even has a video of it on his phone. Someday you can be certain this too will happen. He makes his dreams reality.

light-cd

Remember the evening of the Holiday Light Show with this CD.

Come to Cambridge and watch the Guernsey County Courthouse Holiday Light Show any evening from November 1 to January 2, 2017 starting at 5:30 until 9:00. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to spot Joel watching too.

The Guernsey County Holiday Light Show happens in Cambridge, Ohio at their courthouse square along old Route 40. You don’t want to miss it.

Farmer’s Daughter to Queen Victoria

 

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During childhood, her cousin, Cheryl, and Connie enjoyed dressing as cowgirls.

Growing up on the farm as a shy young lady, Connie Oliver Humphrey never expected to travel the world, but she always enjoyed role playing. Even as a child, Connie liked to don costumes and pretend to be someone else. One of those earliest ones happened to be Dale Evans. At home she would dress in her cowgirl hat and boots as she became Queen of the West.

The first time this shy young lady ever performed on stage happened at Cambridge High School during the senior class play, with just a small part. Most of her high school years were spent in the bookmobile reading all the books in the history section.

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Always interested in costumes, this Victorian lady helped with the Dickens Victorian Village’s Victorian Tea & Fashion Show.

So when Connie went to Marietta College, it seemed natural to major in history. However, lack of encouragement from the history teacher and a notice of her theatrical abilities from another, had her changing gears. Theater became her major and creating costumes her passion.

Still, when she graduated, Connie wasn’t sure what she wanted to do or where she wanted to live. Before making a final decision, Connie became a stewardess for Piedmont Airlines. Then she met the man who would change her world. Michael worked for the United States Department of Agriculture, which eventually led them on many great adventures.

Before long, Connie didn’t have to worry about where she would live as Michael became an Agricultural attache in the American Embassy in places such as Moscow, Hong Kong, and Jakarta, then moved on to Singapore. Connie was off to see the world.

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In the musical, Quilters, Connie’s pioneer portrayal included playing the spoons.

On this amazing adventure, she never knew what was going to happen next. In each country, she joined the local theater group, where she helped with costumes and became an actress.

When on stage, her shyness disappeared as she became a different person. In her words, “I put Connie on a hook in the dressing room.” Only once did Connie and Michael appear on the same stage in a spoof on Robin Hood and His Merry Men. It required Connie to sing off-key, which she said wasn’t difficult for her.

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In the one-woman play, Belle of Amherst, Connie portrayed Emily Dickinson.

In Jakarta, one of her favorite performances took place in the role of Emily Dickinson. Connie performed a one-woman show on stage there in the play, Belle of Amherst. She learned the poetry from the heart and talked to the audience as though she were carrying on a conversation with them.

Emily spent her life as a recluse, writing poetry and stashing it away because one suitor told her she was not a poet. Still she wrote as if she experienced the joys and sorrows of the human race.

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This quilt made from pieces of her Quilters costume still graces her guest bedroom. The green/white check was from her costume and the beige batik is typically Indonesian.

During their travels, they shared many wonderful experiences with family and new friends. One of those happened at a Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, where they attended a traditional Easter service. Only children and grandparents were permitted to participate, with the militia there to guard again other adult participation. As part of the American Embassy, they were permitted to view the impressive service.

Her favorite place, Hong Kong, overflowed with life and color. Every nationality walked their streets. which held plentiful food and supplies. Something exciting happened frequently wherever they lived. From an elephant ride in Indonesia to the dynamic Fourth of July fireworks in Washington D.C., new experiences created lifetime memories.

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Her role as Queen Victoria adds dignity to Dickens Victorian Village.

Upon her return to Guernsey County, Connie became involved with Dickens Victorian Village working on their Creative Team creating costumes for the mannequins.Then last year, with a bit of encouragement, she stepped into the role of Queen Victoria, queen during the time of Charles Dickens.

“How does someone get to be Queen?”

“You must select your parents with great care.”

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Schoolchildren greeted Queen Victoria with cheers and flags of England.

Her visits to the elementary schools have been well received and she often greets visitors at opportune moments throughout the season. Connie enjoys getting dressed for her role as Queen Victoria, where she holds children under her spell as she tells of life as Queen.In December, there will also be a program, Dickens Audience with the Queen, where she shares the stage with historian, Chris Hart.

In her spare time, Connie’s role as farmer’s wife continues and she works tirelessly for the First Presbyterian Church in Cambridge. Her husband, children and grandchildren always come first, and give her a glow of happiness for all to see.

Connie values the freedom we have in our country after viewing life in some of the places they served. In fact in the near future, they plan an RV trip across the United States, a place they have not yet explored. They have people and places to see on their journey.

But first she must reign as Queen Victoria in Dickens Victorian Village.

 

It’s Snowing in Cambridge, Ohio

dickens-snow

‘Snowing’ the scene is one of the final touches in the warehouse by Cindy and Shana.

Oh the weather outside’s been frightful…frightfully hot that is. But inside Dickens Universal, it’s snowing! The crew at Dickens Victorian Village is busy replacing the layer of snow on 67  scene platforms.

Some think that the scenes are placed on the street in the fall, returned to storage, and then magically appear again the next year. This is not the case, as much hard labor in many areas is necessary to repair the winter damage.

The Creation Team, who make and maintain the mannequins, works all year round so the figures will look excellent when placed on the streets in late October. There’s usually a month off in January to let them dry out from snow and rain. Then the work begins.

Last winter wasn’t a terrible winter, but still freezing and thawing plus the wind caused great damage to heads and clothing alike. “The Travelers” provide a great example of some of the possible problems to be encountered.

lindy-and-tom-replace-a-shirt

Lindy gets help from Tom putting a new shirt on this mannequin..

The lady needed a new skirt this year and it has been discovered that upholstery material is often one of the best choices. Cotton does not hold up well. Donated clothing and material are appreciated and used as often as possible. Making new clothes requires time at home at a sewing machine as well as time in Dickens Universal, where mannequins are stored.

One very time consuming detail happens when each item has to be tacked down, or they would blow away when on the street. For example, a scarf must be stitched meticulously to the jacket. This could take a couple hours to make it secure enough to hold through the strongest wind.

shana-paints-a-face

Touching up the heads seems a never ending job. Just ask volunteer, Shana.

Their heads need some repair each year. Often it is just a touch-up of paint, but sometimes the weather causes the clay used in making the heads to crack, much like our highways. When water gets in that crack, it expands creating bigger problems.Paint cracks and varnish turns yellow, so repairs are necessary if they are to look presentable on the street for the season.

john-and-annie-glenn

Annie and John Glenn take their place on Wheeling Avenue this year. Sharon had to adjust John’s neck to fit just right.

Once in a while the entire side of a face may peel off, causing either cracks to be filled or a new head to be made. Hats in some ways protect the heads, but in others they cause a problem as mildew forms under the hats that tend to hold dampness.

universal-chuck

Making and repairing the frames has received great help this season from Chuck.

Inside each figure is a basic frame of 2 x 4s  and they all set on a raised platform to keep them off the ground and make them more easily seen on Wheeling Avenue. This is going to be the 11th year for Dickens Victorian Village, so some of these must also be replaced.

bob-and-lindy

Even founder, Bob, helps with ‘snowing’ as Lindy passes by with a clean shirt for another figure.

Around the base of each platform, a plastic skirt gives it a finished look. All skirts must be removed each year and thoroughly cleaned. Then snow is placed on the top of the platform in the form of white plastic, which is stapled in place.

sitting-mannequins

For now, those finished Victorian characters sit waiting for the end of October so they can make their annual trip to downtown Cambridge.

You can see that for “The Travelers” to be ready to make their journey in the fall, much time has to be spent for at least nine months of the year. Right now, even though there is no AC in the warehouse and work is frightfully hot, it’s snow time at Dickens Victorian Village.

Let it snow! Let it snow!  Let it snow!

 

 

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