Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Met Up With My Late Mother's "Moo Cow" Marionette at Museum London, November 3, 2018

Updated:  Wednesday, December 12, 2018, 6:30 PM, EST

Note 1: Around 2014, I instituted a policy regarding both my blogs that I do not include links to other people's websites or blogs on mine.  Consequently, you will only find information on how to locate the links (I often include screenshots of the webpages in question).  Further clarification can be found in the bibliography.

Note 2:  The two photos taken at Museum London are included with permission.  I obtained an additional permission from the Canadian Museum of History for the one of Moo Cow and me.

Playwright James Reaney and My Mother, Jay Peterson - Creative Sharing

James Reaney (1926-2008) and my mother Jay (nee Fleming) Peterson (1920-1976), were both highly creative London, Ontario, Canada cultural activists.  They were adept at not only getting projects off the ground, but also seeing them through to fruition.

One of these projects was marionette plays for children.  My mother convinced her fellow Western Fair board members to commission James to produce three shows for the September 1965 fair.  Mom took a hands-on approach with one of the three.  She invited James (or as I knew him, Jamie), his wife Colleen Thibaudeau, and their three children, James Stewart, John and Susan, to the Peterson family cottage at Leith, Ontario, in August 1965.  The Apple Butter marionettes were brought to life in my late maternal grandfather, Stuart Fleming's, old print shop.

In his 1990 Theatrum article, entitled "Stories on a String," Jamie described Apple Butter as a "new venture.  What I wanted to do in this fairy tale--where an orphan boy triumphs over the cruelties of his guardians--was to create a puppet hero for Southwestern Ontario. . ."  The tale was based on a story Jamie's mother told him about 1890s Perth County.

My mother designed "Moo Cow," an impressive-looking bovine, with the map of Canada built into the Holstein's black-and-white markings.  Moo Cow helps Apple Butter get the better of "thick skulled" Victor Nipchopper, by hooking Victor with her horn, and then flying away with him to the moon.

You can read Moo Cow's and Victor's exchange in Susan Reaney's September 1, 2018 post, entitled "James Reaney's marionette play Apple Butter" at https://jamesreaney.com

Screenshot from James Reaney, September 1, 2018


And you can read more about the Leith, Ontario adventure in my presentation at Jamie's memorial at London's Aeolian Hall, on July 7, 2008.  It can be found under the tag "Marionette Plays" by Susan Reaney, November 29, 2010 at https://jamesreaney.com

Screenshot from James Reaney, November 29, 2010


Canadian Museum of History Acquires Apple Butter Marionettes

Around January 2009, what was then the Canadian Museum of Civilization (renamed the Canadian Museum of History in 2013) acquired some of the Apple Butter marionettes from the James Reaney estate.  James Stewart Reaney, Jamie's son, explained this acquisition at the end of the November 29, 2010 post cited above.

James Stewart Reaney's Presentation, November 3, 2018

On November 3, 2018, I enjoyed attending James Stewart's lecture in the Museum London auditorium.  It was entitled "I Was So Much Older Then: A reconsideration of Jamie Reaney's Plays for Children. . ."  The London Public Library, Wordsfest and Museum London all played a role in bringing this talk to fruition.

In addition, the Canadian Museum of History loaned Moo Cow and another Apple Butter marionette, Tree Wuzzle, to Museum London, to be housed temporarily in the Museum London lobby.

Below is James Stewart giving his lecture.  The photo of the Reaneys and Apple Butter was taken by my mother in August 1965 at Leith, Ontario.  I am grateful to Susan Reaney, Jamie's daughter, and James Stewart's sister, who agreed to let me use her photo on my blog.

James Stewart Reaney, November 3, 2018


For an in-depth look at James Stewart's November 3, 2018 presentation, you can check out "Wordsfest 2018: James Stewart Reaney on James Reaney's children's plays," November 16, 2018, at https://jamesreaney.com

Screenshot from James Reaney, November 16, 2018


Leith Peterson Meets Up With Moo Cow

After James Stewart's lecture, I had the pleasure of getting reacquainted with Mom's "Moo Cow" in the Museum London lobby.  Susan Reaney kindly recorded this meet up and agreed to let me publish it on my blog.

Moo Cow and Leith Peterson, November 3, 2018


As I admired dear old Moo, I reflected on how enduring my mother's legacy has been, despite the fact that she passed away more than 41 years ago.

Colleen Thibaudeau - Jay "reaching out to us all"

Jamie's wife, Colleen Thibaudeau (1925-2012), correctly pointed out that my mother reached "out to us all" and "painted us all into it."  For further information about Colleen's observations about my mother, you can read the "Life Celebrated by Poem" section of my May 4, 2012 https://www.leithpeterson.ca post, entitled "Jay Peterson (1920-1976)":

https://www.leithpeterson.ca/2012/05/jay-peterson-1920-1976.html


My Mother Teaching a Clay Modeling Course in 1956

An example of my mother reaching out can be found in this January 1956 London Free Press photo.  (Her married name was Mrs. Charles Peterson.)

London Free Press, January 1956


Since you will probably have difficulty reading the cutline, I have transcribed it below:

The first lesson in clay modeling for the Modeling and Sculpture Group sponsored by the Western Art League was taught last night at the Western Fair Arts building.  Here, instructor Mrs. Charles Peterson, left, coaches two students modeling faces.  The model, centre, Phyllis Eaton, poses for Dr. W.A. Andreae, Byron, and Mrs. Mary Jones, London, right.  It was the first of six weekly lessons.

I purchased a scan of the negative for the above photo from the London Free Press Collection of Photographic Negatives, Archives and Special Collections, Western Libraries, Western University.  This is one of my favourite photos of my mother.

London Free Press, negative date, January 23, 1956


Jay and Leith Peterson, December 1956

Here is another example of my mother reaching out, this time to four-year old me, in December 1956.

Leith and Jay Peterson, December 1956


I am guessing that she was helping me design a Christmas ornament.

From the late-1950s to the mid-1960s, my mother tried to get me engaged with the visual arts, e.g., enrolling me in arts courses.  But I realized I did not have her skills in this area, and lost interest.

Leith Peterson's Calligraphy, circa 1965

Nevertheless, I think this calligraphy I did around 1965 (below) signals my move into writing as one of my primary interests.

The "Calligraphy Leith" is in my mother's handwriting.

The author of the quotation is English critic, essayist and poet, Leigh Hunt (1784-1859).  Excerpt from The Farmer's Wife, Vol. 36 (1933), p 72.

Leith Peterson, ca. 1965 - Calligraphy of Leigh Hunt (1789-1859) quote


I like to think of this calligraphy as my "line and rule" nature constructively joining forces with my mother's imaginative heart.

Conclusion

There is a lot that can be learned from examining the creative energies of my mother and James (Jamie) Reaney.  It is fantastic that Susan Reaney, James Stewart and his wife Susan Wallace have done so much to document this verve through presentations and website posts.  And I have been happy to chime in from time to time on my https://www.leithpeterson.ca blog.


Bibliography

Canadian Museum of History (n.d.).  About.  Retrieved November 2018, from Canadian Museum of History: https://www.historymuseum.ca

Canadian Museum of History (n.d.).  Marionette, Moo Cow.  Retrieved November 2018, from Canadian Museum of History: https://www.historymuseum.ca

London Free Press (1956, January).  First Lesson in Clay Modeling.  London Free Press.

Peterson, L. (2008, July 6).  Jamie and Jay Peterson's 1965 Apple Butter Collaboration.  Retrieved from James Reaney: https://jamesreaney.com

Peterson, L. (2003, May 10).  Remembering Mom.  London Free Press, p. F3.

Reaney, J. (1973).  Apple Butter and Other Plays for Children.  Vancouver: Talonbooks.

Reaney, J. (1990, April/May).  Stories on a String.  Theatrum, pp. 7-8.

Reaney, J.S. (2010, November 29).  Apple Butter and Friends are on their way to the Canadian Museum of Civilization.  Retrieved from James Reaney: https://jamesreaney.com

Reaney, S. (2010, November 29).  Marionette Plays.  Retrieved from James Reaney: https://jamesreaney.com

Reaney, S. (2018, November 16).  Wordsfest 2018: James Stewart Reaney on James Reaney's children's plays.  Retrieved from James Reaney: https://jamesreaney.com

Wikiquote (2018, June 15).  Leigh Hunt.  Retrieved December 2018, from Leigh Hunt - Wikiquote: https://en.wikiquote.org

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Ken Whiteley's "That Other Shore" Inspires Pride in Michael Sullivan's Michigan Descendants

Note: Photos of Allison Bosshart and family, Ken Whiteley and Reggie Harris, included with permission.

Introduction

On July 25, 2016, I published a leithpeterson.ca post about Ken Whiteley and my great-great grandfather, Michael Sullivan (1813-1886).  Below is a link to this post.

https://www.leithpeterson.ca/2016/07/ken-whiteley-and-leith-petersons-great.html

I explained that Ken is a "multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter [and] record producer" whose "musical journey has taken him from jug band, folk and swing to blues, gospel and children's music."  He has won a Canadian Folk Music Award and a Genie Award for best original song, among many other accolades.

Like me, Ken grew up hearing the story of how Michael Sullivan changed his surname from O'Sullivan to Sullivan, after he got on the wrong side of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland.  Michael ended up moving to Cambourne, in the Cornwall area of England.  He courted a widow named Jane Trevillion (1816-1895).  Her husband had been killed in the mines, and she was raising four children on her own.

Jane told Michael that if he wanted to marry her, he would have to become a Methodist, and he complied with her wishes.  Around the 1840 to 1845 period, they wed in Cambourne, and subsequently had two children: Ellen Sullivan (1846-1922) and Thomas Sullivan (1849-1920).  Thomas is Ken Whiteley and my great-grandfather.

Michael was employed in the tin and/or copper mines.  Around the late 1840s, copper was discovered near Sault Ste. Marie, Upper Canada.  The centre of the find turned out to be Bruce Mines.  This led to a call for experienced miners, including those in the Cornwall area of England.  Michael, Jane and their six children crossed the Atlantic, ca. 1851, to seek a better life.

Ken Whitely's "That Other Shore" About Michael Sullivan

In my July 2016 post, I explained that Ken wrote a song, entitled "That Other Shore," about our great-great grandfather, Michael Sullivan.  The song is on his Freedom Blues (2016) CD.  This CD can be purchased from kenwhiteley.com or via borealisrecords.com

On July 16, 2016, I enjoyed hearing Ken sing "That Other Shore" at the Home County Music & Art Festival Main Stage in London, Ontario.  A couple of photos of Ken and my meet-up can be found in my July 25, 2016 post (link below).

https://www.leithpeterson.ca/2016/07/ken-whiteley-and-leith-petersons-great.html

Allison Bosshart, the Great-Great-Great Granddaughter of Michael and Jane Sullivan

In July 2017, Allison Bosshart, who is the great-great-great granddaughter of Michael and Jane Sullivan, contacted me via my leithpeterson.ca blog.  Allison is descended from Ellen Sullivan (1846-1922) who was the oldest daughter of Michael and Jane.

Below is a chart that explains the connection between Allison, Ken and me.

Connection Between Allison Bosshart, Ken Whiteley and Leith Peterson



















Ken Whiteley Performs at Michigan Concerts, May 4-5, 2018

I helped Allison connect up with Ken.  She was thrilled when he informed her he was playing twice in Michigan in May 2018.

The first Michigan gig was on May 4, 2018 evening, and was entitled "Reggie Harris and Ken Whiteley - in Celebration of Pete Seeger!"  It was part of the Ten Pound Fiddle Concert (tenpoundfiddle.org) at MSU Community Music School in East Lansing.

(For further information about Reggie Harris, visit www.ReggieHarrisMusic.com)

Below is a photo of Ken and Reggie at this event.

Ken Whitley and Reggie Harris at Ten Pound Fiddle Concert, May 4, 2018


In attendance were:

- Allison Bosshart and her husband
- Allison and her husband's children: Max and Ava (twins), 8, Ella Ruth, 10
- Allison's mother, Carole Bosshart, who is the great-great granddaughter of Michael and Jane
- Allison's cousin, Jan Yeaman, who is the great-great-great granddaughter of Michael and Jane


L-R: Jan Yeaman, Max, Ken, Ava, Allison, Carole, Ella Ruth, May 2018


In a May 8, 2018 email to me, Allison described it as a "magical performance. . .We sang with a whole group of people about my great-great-great grandparents AND my children's great-great-great-great grandparents!!  Wow!!

Then on Saturday, May 5, morning, Ken performed at the "Fiddle Scouts Concert," which was the children's segment of the Ten Pound Fiddle event.

Allison said she was "beside [herself] with joy and fellowship of music" when Ken invited her children up on the stage with him.  She "kept wondering what would Michael and Jane Sullivan think?"

Ken Sings "That Other Shore" at Smales Pace/Change of Pace Reunion, London, Ontario, May 5, 2018

On Saturday, May 5, evening, I was happy to be entertained by the music and camaraderie of Ken, Brent Titcomb, Liam Russel Titcomb, Fraser & Girard, New Cumberland with John P. Allen, and Nora Galloway.  This was at the 8th Annual Smales Pace/Change of Pace Reunion at Aeolian Hall in London, Ontario.  As Ken sang "That Other Shore," and dedicated it to me, I felt gratitude that my July 25, 2016 leithpeterson.ca post had widened the circle of Michael and Jane's living descendants.

Below is a photo of Ken and me after the Smales Pace/Change of Pace Reunion Concert, at the Aeolian Hall.


Ken Whiteley and Leith Peterson, London, Ontario, May 5, 2018


Bibliography

aeolianhall.ca

Belanger, J. (2018, May 2).  "Reunion concert pays tribute to London's legendary folk "'hotbed.'"  London Free Press

Bowman, D. (2013, December 16).  Ken Whiteley.  canadianencyclopedia.ca

kenwhiteley.com

ReggieHarrisMusic.com

tenpoundfiddle.org

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

My Leith Peterson Blog is Now HTTPS

As of April 8, 2018, this blog is now HTTPS, via the following link:

https://www.leithpeterson.ca

My other blog, which covers my views on Indigenous (Aboriginal) issues, was also updated on April 8, 2018:

https://www.counterpoise.ca