At a recent dinner meeting of the Cattaraugus Historical Society, members viewed several old 16mm. movies, thanks to the generosity of Gowanda Historian Phil Palen. Coaxing the brittle reels through their paces, Palen showed staff and patients at Gowanda State Hospital, enjoying their annual field days during the 1930s and early '40s. The films were both entertaining and nostalgic.
President Robert Waite then took a moment to thank the volunteer workers who have helped get the Main Street museum reopened to the public. Singling out Ms Carol Bonner for special recognition, Waite praised her tireless efforts to round up people interested in helping her clean the museum and get it ready to for its January reopening.
Bonner also has set up a regular schedule of open dates which has become the museum's Second Sunday calendar. Although admittedly limited, it is, at least, a starter recipe for keeping the museum open on a regular basis.
At a recent Cattaraugus Historical Society meeting, Ms Carol Bonner and her trusty crew of cleaners were honored for their contributions in getting the Cattaraugus Area Museum open again on a regular basis. Society President Robert Waite and other members warmly acknowledged their volunteerism and hard work. Ms Bonner and Mr. Reid (both on ladders), Helen Heide (working at floor level) and Richard Taft (absent for photo) turned out several times to dust and shine up the long-disused building before setting up a Second Sunday schedule of monthly openings.
Ms Bonner spoke briefly, shifting the praise from herself to her trio of cleaners, Paul Reid, Helen Heide and Jim Taft. Reid and Taft also served as volunteer docents for the February and March openings, each taking a turn preparing a "family exhibit" for public display.
Bonner laughingly compared their efforts to her favorite childhood book, "Stone Soup." "That's been my model," she explained. "It's all about everybody doing some little thing to get the soup made, and that's exactly what's been happening at the museum. Different people have been doing what they can to make it work."
In other business, the society received welcome news from Otto, as Mr. and Mrs. Lauren Bird graciously offered to assume Mrs. Caroline Stuart's role as curator of the Medora Ball Historical Museum. The future of the Otto building has been in question since Mrs. Stuart requested last year to be relieved of that responsibility.
As Mrs. Bird explained, "Lauren and I talked about it, and we think it's time someone new stepped up to help. We care about the museum and feel it should be kept up, and we're pretty sure we can find some others who'll take turns with us to keep it open in the summer."
"Since we live next door, we usually mow the lawn anyway," said Mr. Bird with a smile, "so we thought , why not take on a little more?"
The Birds' proposal was gratefully accepted, and they were quickly appointed to the post. In their first action as curators, they reported that the museum had lost numerous shingles to last winter's windy snowstorms and requested that the roof be inspected and repaired, if necessary. President Waite said he would ask society member Jim Land to take a look at the roof and make a decision regarding it.
Mr. Bird also asked about a pile of wood that has been standing on the museum property for several years. "A lot of it looks rotten to me," he said. "If it's no good, I'd like to get rid of it." Waite said he'd have it checked out and let Bird know the results.
Election of officers came next on the agenda, with Waite offering the following slate: President - Robert Waite; 1st Vice Pres. - Jim Land; 2nd Vice Pres. - Ken Adams; Corresponding Secretary - Dawn Waite; Recording Secretary - Jerry Arnold; Cattaraugus Curator - Grace Jones; and Treasurer - Colleen Young. A vote was cast by the secretary and the officers were duly elected.
Waite, who has been acting treasurer of the organization for the last two years, reported that the Otto account contains $598.26; the Cattaraugus checking account contains $1,090.62; the T. Rowe Price fund contains $9,169.00. Asked by Mr. Patrick Cullen how the society raises money, Waite answered, "Mainly with dues." However, if the Otto museum should require a new roof, or a coat of paint, the treasury would be quickly depleted.
A short discussion took place concerning the whereabouts of an inventory of the Cattaraugus museum's contents. Mrs. Jones said that she had such a record at her home, and it was agreed that this volume should be copied so that its contents would be available at the museum, as well.
Before the meeting's adjournment, Bonner reminded the gathering that on the next Second Sunday (April 10, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.) the Cattaraugus museum will feature an exciting display of vintage photographs. Since this exhibit will depict the village as it looked in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it should be especially interesting to those who might otherwise have trouble envisioning the dirt streets and horse-drawn wagons.