VIEWPOINTS McFADDIN-WARD HOUSE
December 2013 Vol. 30/No. 1
McFaddins kept their Christmas traditions alive BY JUDY LINSLEY In her book, “Emyl Jenkins’ Southern Christmas,” the author gives two reasons for the rich Christmas traditions in the
South. First, the earliest Southern settlers — mostly Anglican English, Irish, and German — came from European cultures that, unlike the New England Puritans, reveled in the
During World War II, war bonds were considered especially suitable gifts.
“festivity and enjoyment” of the holiday. The second was the relatively mild weather, which allowed people to gather and celebrate. Ida and W.P.H. McFaddin were both products of Southern culture — Southeast Texas and West Virginia — so Christmas at the McFaddin home in Beaumont was a rich blend of two Southern traditions. Giving topped the list of family traditions. Christmas shopping began sometime in the late fall. Sometimes the two women shopped together, but Mamie usually worked alone, doing much of Ida’s at the same time. “Shopped, I think, all day,” she wrote in her diary in 1921. The McFaddins were generous at Christmas; in 1914, Mamie wrote, “Papa bought me a seal skin coat.” She also received pearls. Future husband Carroll Ward, still a relatively new beau, gave her a watch and bracelet. In 1921, she got a diamond ring and a negligee “and lots of things.” Ida McFaddin and Mamie Ward enjoyed exchanging beautiful gifts, whether personal items such as nightgowns or elegant silver serving pieces. In 1947, in October, Mamie found “2 silver bowls for Mother’s Christmas
See TRADITIONS, page 8
Linda and Glenn Cummings enjoy their farewell party at the visitor center.
Happy Trails — From Beaumont to Boerne and beyond! BY CAROL CUCCIO
Little did we know that years ago, when we got one special volunteer, we would later get a second, and two great friends out of the bargain. Linda and Glenn Cummings are very dear to our hearts at the McFaddin-Ward House Museum. They are the very embodiment of the phrase “southern charm.” With their gracious hospitality and treatment of friends — both old and new — like family, they are good people through and through. As the saying goes, “they just don’t make them like
See CUMMINGS, page 10
-- Director’s Desk --
Suited and masked, two painters carefully remove old paint from window trim in the green bedroom before painting can begin. Four of the bedrooms were closed during the three-week restoration but are now back on view.
By ALLEN LEA
Whew! Where has this year gone? For some, it was just another year to scratch through on the calendar, but for us here at the McFaddin-Ward House, well — it was somewhat busy! In addition to the plethora of daily tours, projects and events that we always provide, we had two memorable additions to the year. In April, we were thrilled to participate with the Texas Association of Museums as they held their annual conference here in Beaumont; and as if we weren’t tired enough from that, we hosted our own triennial conference in November. We had a lot of fun planning and executing both, but I think it’s safe to say that we are conferenced out. It’s not all fun and play, of course. Hosting events and programs means
PROJECTS — OH MY!
hours of planning by museum staff, and all the while work goes on behind the scenes in order to keep the museum in its normal pristine condition. Two of the bedrooms on the second floor of the museum received paint restorations in October, and the front porch got a fresh coat of paint, just in time for the Christmas season! As 2014 comes into focus, we are planning forward. Hosting educational lectures and activities for the public is part of our mission as a museum, and it is also something we enjoy doing. The word “lecture” sometimes conjures up unpleasant visions of an hour-long snooze fest, but we make it our mission to seek out programs on interesting topics, given by speakers who not only know but love their subjects. In 2014, we will be increasing our
lecture series from two or three to four — one per quarter — two of which are already scheduled. On January 30, Meredith Meuwly, Director of Appraisal Services at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, and appraiser for the “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS, will inform us about fakes and forgeries in the art market. And on May 1, Perry McFaddin Clark from the Amizetta Estate Winery in Napa Valley will discuss different grape varieties and the art of wine making. We hope you are as eager to attend the lectures as we are to host them. Remember, all of them are free and open to the public. See you there!
Pink Pearls in the Pink Parlor BY SAM DALEO In October of 1985, the McFaddinWard House was being transformed into a museum. Part of this transformation involved the cleaning of the parlor and breakfast room/conservatory; both rooms are unusual for many reasons, but especially for their canvas-covered, hand-decorated walls and ceilings. The larger room, the parlor, comprises eleven oil-on-canvas panels of various sizes, including a 15’ x 17’ single piece for the ceiling. The panels are glued to the plaster walls and ceiling, using lead white oil paint as the adhesive. All are painted pink and decorated with a beautiful, hand-painted rose vine (done by an unknown itinerant artist). A painted, gilt, wooden, applied decoration also enhances the walls. Everything — canvas and wood alike — had to be cleaned. Unfortunately, since early 1907, when the McFaddins moved in, a layer of grime had slowly accumulated, caused by pollution from open windows, cigar and cigarette smoke, and other factors. The staff felt that a professional cleaning by trained conservators was necessary. Cleaning of the breakfast room/conservatory went smoothly; however, work in the parlor did not. The parlor presented staff and conservators with an unexpected problem, and as sometimes happens, an unexpected problem necessitates a unique solution. Museum staff had contracted with the Texas Conservation Center, at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, to undertake this project. The conservators there had originally thought the cleaning could be done with a solvent. Everything they tried, however, was too strong and removed paint, or not strong enough and left dirt. They finally settled on Pink Pearl erasers — that’s right, just like the ones used in school! This was a technique the head conservator, Tony Rajer, had used before on small paintings, but never on this scale. Doing the work with erasers was going to take much longer than originally estimated and would cost more, due to the longer work
Conservators left a single uncleaned spot in the parlor behind the radiator near the south window.
time and the extra help that would be needed. Tony (working with two assistants) immediately began hiring extra technicians, about fifteen in all. Many were students from Lamar University who responded to a “help wanted” ad. I was lucky enough to be asked to help and assisted evenings and Saturdays, as did curator Clark Pierce’s girlfriend, “Wiz.” Four scaffolds were erected, erasers were purchased and work began. When Tony exhausted Beaumont’s supply of Pink Pearl erasers, he went to Houston to buy them. I do not know how many erasers it took, but quite a few, as one might imagine. Work started around eight in the morning and regularly went until ten or eleven at night. At the end of each workday, workers vacuumed and swept up eraser dust that had accumulated. Conservation work on the parlor began on January 5, 1986, and was completed on February 3, 1986. The process involved not only erasing the walls and ceiling, but also inpainting with acrylic emulsion paints and watercolor on the
wooden decoration, as needed. Some of this decoration had to be re-attached in places with white glue. Flaking paint was consolidated and wrinkles in the canvas were glued down, using the adhesive BEVA 371. When all was completed, the entire surface area was cleaned with a 5% solution of TSP (trisodium phosphate) in water applied with cotton swabs. Finally, a hand-applied surface coating of Soluvar Matte varnish was used to protect the cleaned canvas. The work was hard, dirty and tedious, but it was also extremely rewarding. Watching as the room came back to life, looking as it had in 1907, made it worth the effort. It was a great experience to work with Tony Rajer and the other conservators. They had very positive attitudes and were extremely confident and professional. Tony decided not to clean one small area next to the radiator, to show how dirty the room had been. It is not visible from the tour path; you have to crawl behind the furniture to see it. Whenever I do, I am still amazed at how dirty the room once was, and how beautiful it looks now.
By ARLENE CHRISTIANSEN This past October, Becky Fertitta and I were fortunate to be allowed to attend the Mountain Plains Museum Association’s annual meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska. In attendance were approximately 400 museum professionals from the ten-state area that encompasses the association. Much like our own Texas Association of Museums, the MPMA annual meeting is a forum for members to participate in sessions and share knowledge, as well as to network with colleagues from across the region. At Lincoln, Becky spoke to the group on volunteers, sharing what it is like to volunteer at the McFaddin-Ward House and also what is involved in coordinating such a group. I belong to the membership committee, a group that promotes the MPMA and makes potential members aware of the benefits of membership. Becky and I were also there to promote the McFaddin-Ward House Museum, and of course, our own upcoming conference. It was a fun and exciting experience. Speaking of our own conference, the McFaddin-Ward House hosted one: “Conservation Savvy: From Expert to DIY,” November 7-9, 2013 covering a broad range of conservation topics. It was the museum’s eleventh historic house museum conference. Dr. Karen Pope of Baylor University’s Allbritton Art Institute led off Thursday night with her keynote speech, “Perspectives from Art History,” relating the value of conservation to art history and the museum world. The museum had worked with Dr.
The museum hosted a three-day conference, “Conservation Savvy: From Expert to DIY,” November 7-9.
Pipp Gillette poses with staffer Judy Linsley along with Walker and Ann Lea at the McFaddin-Ward House conference, Nov. 7-9. Pope in planning this conference. Ten speakers presented a number of methods for best conserving glass, furniture, paper, paintings and frames, as well as how to digitize records and photographs. The speakers also offered guidance on how to decide when a project can be done in-house and when an expert should be consulted; others presented sessions on conservation of structures and disaster planning. The partici-
pants spent a pleasant Friday afternoon at McFaddin-Ward House enjoying tours of the house, carriage house and the curatorial office building, and were able to speak with staff about conservation projects at the museum. On Friday evening, attendees received a special treat: the music of Pipp Gillette, who performed traditional folk and cowboy songs from the 19th century. His instruments included guitar and three kinds of banjos, one made from a large gourd in the traditional African method! Participants offered comments on their evaluation forms such as: “A wonderful conference! The food was great and I loved Pipp Gillette.” “The conference was very professionally done. The employees of McFaddin-Ward House were extremely welcoming. Super, super, super!” “The conference was extremely hospitable and enjoyable! The food and entertainment were exceptional.” “Very informative, good line-up of speakers.” The McFaddin-Ward House staff was gratified to know that their efforts had paid off with another successful conference.
Who Knew a Part-Time Job Would Ignite a Passion — and a Full-Time Career By Carol Cuccio I would have never dreamed that the museum world would fulfill so many things I was looking for in a job. Growing up, I had considered a lot of different paths, from veterinarian to nurse — and even teacher. I was never certain, but I always knew that whatever I did, I wanted to make a difference. I had always loved museums as much as the next person, but who knew that I would end up finding my niche in the museum world or stumbling into the perfect career? Just barely, though; I almost missed out. In my mid-twenties, while trying to figure out that next step, I put conventional life on hold and joined the Peace Corps. I had a lifetime of agricultural expertise I could put to use, and I figured this would be an ideal way to try to make an impact. The experience opened my eyes to a whole new world of opportunity, and I was able to temporarily fulfill the desire to help and bring about change. As I wrapped up my two-year service commitment and prepared for my readjustment into American life, I considered several options for my next move. I seriously considered pursuing my childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian or nurse, but more than anything, I was ready to be back near family and friends. I needed to be home. I decided to settle back in Southeast Texas, find a job, and cool my heels before I considered moving and starting a new life again somewhere else. Fresh back from Africa, I started my job search with gusto, sending out more than 30 applications in a little less than two weeks. Not being very inspired by many of the jobs I had applied for, especially after spending 27 months in “the bush,” I decided to give the want-ads one more look before I started to figure out a plan B. I came across a posting I had somehow missed — an education opportunity at the McFaddin-Ward House. I sent in my résumé and didn’t have to wait long. Within a day or so, I received a call and an interview, and learned that they had almost decided not to interview any more candidates before my application arrived. Little did I know at the time that I would embark upon a journey that would inspire a passion for
Carol Cuccio, above in green, is interviewed for a TV story about the McFaddinWard House victory garden. After five years at MWH,Cuccio says that, “Creating the victory garden was one of my biggest achievements at the museum and helped me see the impact my work had on the community,” adding, “Working at the museum gave me so much, even my dog Rosie, whom I found on the way to work one morning.” the museum field. Within a few days, I had the job and started down the path to fulfillment. The museum has given me so much in such a short time. I gained valuable experience in just about every aspect of museum management. From planning educational programming and assisting with exhibit installations to conducting television interviews and working with volunteers — I got to do it all with the McFaddin-Ward House. I have always been lucky to be part of such a great group of passionate, nurturing people, and for that, I will be forever grateful. I made amazing friends, was able to head up some exciting projects, and got to work with incredible people. I learned so much and felt that I helped make a real impact on the community. I met people from all over the world and amazing things happened during my tenure. I
started Beaumont’s first community garden, met Allen Rienstra, the love of my life, and adopted my sweet dog Rosie on my way into the office one morning, just to name a few — and I gained a huge range of experiences that will benefit me for the rest of my life. Looking back on my time with the museum, I would never have guessed that accepting a part-time job would have led to a career and so many opportunities. The next one has arrived. This month, I begin the next chapter as I accept the Head of Visitor Services position with the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin. Though I am sad to leave the McFaddin-Ward House, I look forward to my next adventure. I hope you all stay in touch, and please be sure to stop in the next time you find yourself in Texas’ capital city. Thank you for a great five years!
-- FALL FESTIVITIES -Fall brought busy times to the McFaddin-Ward House, when we hosted a Community Picnic in October and a historic house museum conference in
November. The day after the conference, the museumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s annual Christmas Photo Op took place in the entrance hall of the house.
Traditions Continued from page 1 present” at Cherry Jewelers in Beaumont. In 1941, Ida wrote Mamie from Huntington, “My Santa from you and Carroll was grand.” When declining health limited her shopping, Ida gave Mamie money, always accompanied by a sweet, loving note. Ida McFaddin always remembered her family in West Virginia: parents, Mary and J.L. Caldwell, and sister Ouida Watts, mailing or shipping their gifts to them. Many times they spent Christmas in Beaumont, however, which became another holiday tradition. Christmas giving went far beyond family and close friends. The McFaddins remembered not only their employees—domestic, office and ranch—but people in the community who served and assisted them. Often Ida and Mamie sent checks or small gifts to Ouida’s domestic staff. This created an especially busy shopping season for Mamie, who was determined not to leave anyone out. In 1941, she wrote in her diary that she bought “candy for sales girls [at the White House, a Beaumont department store] & sweater for Tom Parker & gift for Albertine [chauffeur and his wife].” In 1947, Mamie “went to White House for more
ribbon, tags etc. & wrapped rest of Christmas gifts — 44 in all.” Her shopping usually ended with one last trip to town on Christmas Eve, followed by delivery of gifts. No wonder her holiday diary entries frequently contain the word “exhausted.” Charitable giving received special attention at Christmas. The Beaumont Day Nursery, later the Beaumont Children’s Home, was one of Ida and Mamie’s favorite charities, both women serving on the board for many years. In addition to monetary donations, Mamie often chose, bought, and wrapped Christmas gifts for the girls who lived there. In 1940, she and her friend Clytie Allen decorated the Christmas tree at the Home. A festive house was a must. After she married and took on more household operations, Mamie saw to it that the house was elegantly decorated each year. As a member of the Magnolia Garden Club, and a person who enjoyed beautiful gardens and flowers, she favored live décor — evergreens, pine cones, fruit, flowers — and arranged it herself, with assistance from Ida. Beaumonters attending parties at the McFaddin home over the years recalled masses of beautiful poinsettias in the entry hall. The live greenery may explain why Mamie didn’t decorate until just before
Ida received this holiday-themed Western Union telegram at Christmas in the 1940s from her sister-in-law Irene Caldwell and her family
Christmas. On December 22, 1941, she “decorated the house…put up sleigh Bells at door…pine burrs & greens & Leonard put lights on outside.” In 1942, she started even later, on Christmas Eve, recording that she “fixed house. Ma put around cones, I fixed all the flowers, fruit & candy.” That year she decorated for a post-Christmas dinner with “candles, leaves & apples.” No Christmas would have been complete without family dinners. Ida and Mamie hosted them each year for the family in Beaumont, for visiting relatives and friends, or for the Wards, after Mamie and Carroll married. Usually they were held at the McFaddin home, but during World War II, with domestic employees scarce, Ida sought other venues. In 1944 Mamie recorded, “Carroll & I to Hotel Beaumont to New Year’s dinner Mother had for family — 20 including children.” Eggnog parties and open houses were especially popular traditions. One Beaumonter recalled of those Christmases, “Socially it was a very entertaining time. There was actually a season from Thanksgiving to Lent and women bought clothes all year for it. Teas, dances, dinner after dinner.” Several open houses became so entrenched in the custom that they occupied the same time slot each year: one was always at night; another was the last to be held. New Year’s brought more fun. During Prohibition in the 1920s, the Crosby Hotel hosted a New Year’s Eve “cabaret.” People could bring in their own alcohol — unofficially, of course. In 1918, Mamie, brother Perry and fiancé Carroll Ward bought liquor from the local bootlegger before they went. The McFaddins’ parties usually fell between Christmas and New Year’s. Some were grand social occasions; in 1940, the Beaumont Journal praised the “festive decorations” at an “elaborate affair” hosted by Ida, Mamie and Carroll “in the large and exquisitely furnished old southern home.” In 1944, Ida and Mamie invited 150 friends for cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres. In her words, “all came early & stayed late & had a good time,” and she went to bed “tired but happy.” Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” ends with this description of the reformed Ebenezer Scrooge: “and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well….” The McFaddins also knew how to keep Christmas well. The holiday exhibit, “Deck the Halls: McFaddins and their Christmas Traditions” will be on display through December 30 at the McFaddin-Ward House.
‘Fakes and Forgeries in the Art Market’
to kick off museum’s 2014 lecture series Meredith Meuwly will kick off the McFaddin-Ward House 2014 lecture series on Thursday, January 30, with “Fakes and Forgeries in the Art Market.” Meredith earned her Bachelor’s degree in Classical Studies and Art History from Duke University in 2000, and a Master’s degree in Modern Art, Connois-seurship, and the History of the Art Market from Christie’s Education in New York in 2001. She spent the next five years in Christie’s New York Antiquities Department as sale coordinator and cataloguer of ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Near Eastern works of art. During her time at Christie’s, she worked on numerous high-profile auctions, including the Doris Duke Estate, Ancient Egyptian Art from the Harer
Traditions Continued from page 8 them each year for the family in Beaumont, for visiting relatives and friends, or for the Wards, after Mamie and Carroll married. Usually they were held at the McFaddin home, but during World War II, with domestic employees scarce, Ida sought other venues. In 1944 Mamie recorded, “Carroll & I to Hotel Beaumont to New Year’s dinner Mother had for family — 20 including children.” Eggnog parties and open houses were especially popular traditions. One Beaumonter recalled of those Christmases, “Socially it was a very entertaining time. There was actually a
Family Trust, and the John W. Kluge Morven Collection of Ancient Art. Meredith joined Heritage Auctions in 2007 as Senior Consignment Director in the Fine & Decorative Arts Department, overseeing two auctions each year. In January 2010, she became the Director of Appraisal Services, preparing formal appraisals for more than 35 specialist categories. In addition to her duties at Heritage, Meredith participates as an appraiser for the Antiques Roadshow on PBS, specializing in Glass, Silver, and Decorative Arts. She is an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers, serving on the Fine Art committee. She is also a board member of the Foundation for Appraisal Education.
season from Thanksgiving to Lent and women bought clothes all year for it. Teas, dances, dinner after dinner.” Several open houses became so entrenched in the custom that they occupied the same time slot each year: one was always at night; another was the last to be held. New Year’s brought more fun. During Prohibition in the 1920s, the Crosby Hotel hosted a New Year’s Eve “cabaret.” People could bring in their own alcohol — unofficially, of course. In 1918, Mamie, brother Perry and fiancé Carroll Ward bought liquor from the local bootlegger before they went. The McFaddins’ parties usually fell between Christmas and New Year’s. Some were grand social occasions; in 1940, the Beaumont Journal praised the “festive decora-
Meredith Meuwly The program will begin January 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the McFaddin-Ward House Visitor Center, 1906 Calder Avenue, Beaumont.
tions” at an “elaborate affair” hosted by Ida, Mamie and Carroll “in the large and exquisitely furnished old southern home.” In 1944, Ida and Mamie invited 150 friends for cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres. In her words, “all came early & stayed late & had a good time,” and she went to bed “tired but happy.” Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” ends with this description of the reformed Ebenezer Scrooge: “and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well….” The McFaddins also knew how to keep Christmas well. The holiday exhibit, “Deck the Halls: McFaddins and their Christmas Traditions” will be on display through December 30 at the McFaddin-Ward House.
BOB’S SANTAS By MICHELLE CATE A charming vintage collection of Santas will be on display at the Visitor Center this winter season. They are on loan from our very own Docent Glenda Warren and are a curated selection from a larger collection her husband, Robert “Bob” Warren gathered over many years. Bob was Vice-President at the “Old” Baptist Hospital on College in Beaumont from 1959-1986. He began playing Santa often in the 1960s to cheer Beaumont children and continued to do so until the early 1970s. During those years, Bob’s collection of Santas really started growing, because people who knew he had
a penchant for portraying Jolly Old Saint Nick began giving them to him. For over a decade, Bob always made time to show up as Santa for events at clubs, organizations, and churches, until he passed his red coat on to another. However, he was still being given Santas through the year 2000! The display will include a wide variety of Santas, ranging from milkglass to mechanical wind-up toy, from quilted to Coca-Cola. Please come by and enjoy them sometime in December. Perhaps you can take them in while enjoying refreshments at our Open House December 14, or while sipping Eggnog at our Eggnog Event December 19. We hope so!
Cummings Continued from page 1 that any more.” Unfortunately for Beaumont, this wonderful couple is leaving. Last month, they said their goodbyes as they packed up their home of more than 30 years, loaded up four dogs and a cat, and relocated to the hill country. It was a real change for them; Linda is a native Beaumonter and Glenn has lived here for nearly 50 years. Linda, who got her degree in education from Lamar, first came to the museum in the late ’80s as a volunteer and a few years later, was hired on in the education department, where she worked for 13 years. Linda helped “raise” several of our junior interpreters; they first got to know her when they came to Afternoon Pastimes and other programs for younger children. Her skill and creativity in developing and executing education programs made her a huge asset to four education coordinators over the years; and her enthusiasm, her contagious laugh, and the ever-present twinkle in her eye endeared her to everyone around her. Glenn, also a Lamar graduate, has been involved with the McFaddin-Ward House since 2001, after he retired from Ameripol Synpol. He trained as a docent and became one of “our guys” — one of just a handful of men in our volunteer corps. We all love Glenn for his jokes, his kindness, and of course, the campfire biscuits he very graciously makes on occasion.
Bob Warren as “Santa” handing out gifts to the delight of school children in 1963.
for taking people — and “critters” — under his wing. He keeps close tabs on the welfare of an elderly gentleman in a local assisted living facility who has no family. He and Linda have adopted several dogs in the last few years, a Catahoula hound mix (maybe), two dachshunds and a Labrador retriever (named Brinkley Bass), all of whom made their way into the couple’s hearts and home. Glenn and Linda obviously enjoy doing their own “thing,” but they also do a lot togethGlenn and Linda Cummings portray er. For several summers, they worked for W.P.H. and Ida McFaddin for seventh Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. Both graders in 2008. also love to travel and invariably make new Linda and Glenn are no strangers to vol- friends everywhere they go. We like to tell unteer service in other nonprofits, either. them that they could travel from coast to coast Wesley United Methodist Church, Texas Gulf in the United States and never have to stay in Historical Society, and Tyrrell Historical a hotel! Of course, both Glenn and Linda have Library Association, to name just a few, will always dedicated themselves to the causes nearreally miss Linda’s dependable and dedicated service. They, and we, know that if she promis- est their heart — their daughters, Stephanie es to do something, she delivers; and she’ll per- and Jennifer — and their devotion has paid off sonally make sure the outcome is the best it beautifully. Now grown, both lovely daughters have made their parents proud. With them, the could be. Glenn will also be missed by the Tyrrell museum lucked out and got yet another Historical Library Association, as he served as Cummings bonus: over the years, the two girls its president this past year. A former Boy Scout, also became involved in the museum — he continued in Scout work as an adult. A few Jennifer in the children’s and JI programs, years ago, he learned of an Eagle Scout, Stephanie as a volunteer and parttime employBrinkley Bass, who later became a decorated ee. All of this is to say that Glenn and Linda World War II pilot and was killed in action. The story was so compelling that Glenn wrote Cummings are treasures, and we will miss them a biography of Bass, “Trailing A Texas Eagle,” more than we can ever say. Good Luck, Glenn and Linda, and happy trails — wherever they which was published in 2010. Glenn, a soft-hearted soul, is also known lead you!
Viewpoints from the Visitor Center By BECKY FERTITTA The McFaddin-Ward House is very fortunate to have a remarkable group of approximately 65 adult volunteers, who are committed to helping make the museum the very best that it can be. From the museum’s inception, the McFaddin-Ward House Board of Directors planned that volunteer docents, not paid staff, would provide tours (and eventually perform other functions as well). The board then enlisted professionals to develop a course of instruction that would ensure a highly competent group of interpreters. Although it has undergone many changes, thirty years later, the McFaddin-Ward House Docent Training Program remains a first-rate program that continues to bear amazing “fruit.” Because of the extremely high regard I have for our volunteers, when the Volunteer Service Council (VSC — umbrella organization for all MWH volunteers) leaders asked me to explain the organizational structure for our volunteer recognition program in Viewpoints, I jumped at the chance; I know that even though the program makes perfect sense to me as volunteer coordinator, it must seem mostly a mighty muddle for our volunteers. The awards program confuses volunteers partly because being recognized for their service is an added bonus — they really enjoy volunteering at the museum and never give a thought to the “pat on the back” they most assuredly deserve. But recognition is a key part of the package; along with excellent training, it forms the basis of our volunteer program. In the early days, volunteers were recognized only by years of service. It was soon evident that this method was not quite fair to many really devoted workers; so in 1996, the current recognition program was implemented and remains in place to this day — with a few tweaks along the way. Volunteers’ hours are logged day in and day out, all year long, and cumulative totals kept from year to year. When volunteers amass a total of 125 hours of service, women receive a silver service pin, a jeweler’s rendition of the front doors of the McFaddinWard House, while men receive a tie tac in the same style. Volunteers usually reach this level after about three years of service; but
The distinctive design of the McFaddin-Ward House front door is rendered in silver and is given to volunteers who have served 125 hours. Women receive a pin; men receive a tie tac.
most are quite surprised at the award, because they have no idea they have given that many hours. When the volunteer has accumulated 250 hours of service, usually in two more years, a small diamond chip is added to the service pin. This recognition comes as no surprise, because they have to return the pin to me to have the jeweler insert the enhancement. At 500 hours, volunteers are recognized with a small gift, a key chain made from the wood of our historic oak tree, “Rachel.” She toppled over in 2008, thanks to Hurricane Ike. Rachel is one of a pair of oaks who have graced the grounds of the museum for well over 100 years. She and her companion William, both named for W.P.H. McFaddin’s parents, were given names in order to become members of the Louisiana Live Oak Society. When volunteers have given 750 hours of service to the museum, they receive a framed print of the McFaddin-Ward House. And on the rare occasion that a volunteer tops the 1000-hour mark, twelve so far, she or he is given a pen and pencil set made of wood from Rachel. The box that holds them, although not made from the same wood, is engraved with the volunteer’s name and the year. The stations along this “Recognition Trail” honor our volunteers for every hour they give over the entirety of their career, be it through tours, helping with outreach programs, or planning programs. Two additional awards are given each year. The Visitor Service Award honors the person who donated the most hours in the calendar year working with visitors, usually a docent who has gone far beyond the normal amount of time in giving tours. The Visitor
Service Award gift varies from year to year. The second award is the highest a volunteer can receive: the Volunteer Innovation Personified (VIP) designation. The VIP recognition highlights a volunteer who consistently goes far beyond the call of duty and has a real impact on the museum’s mission. A small ruby and an additional diamond are added to the VIP’s service pin. Small changes have been made to our recognition program through the years, but none so much as a recent change in the special honor shown to the past president of our VSC. For many years, the president’s service pin was sent to the jeweler for a light goldwash denoting the special status. Because it has become extremely difficult to accomplish this particular task, past presidents now receive a plaque, suitable for hanging, with the McFaddin-Ward House logo screenprinted on a slate that once graced the roof of our museum. When the museum’s roof was restored in 2001-2002, the contractor used slate from the same quarry in Pennsylvania to replace the original. The original pieces that were in good condition were saved and now can be given to our past presidents — a little bit of history, just for them! It is such an honor to be the one who shares these special gifts of recognition with the adult volunteers at our annual appreciation banquet. I hope that the program outlined above shows our volunteers how much they are valued and appreciated. I also hope that in addition to gifts and accolades, my words and deeds, as well as those of the entire McFaddin-Ward House staff, let our volunteers know that they are the museum’s greatest assets.
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Vol. 30, No. 1 December 2013 Published quarterly for volunteers of the McFaddin-Ward House and others interested in cultural and educational aspects of the museum. (409) 832-1906, office (409) 832-2134, visitor center www.mcfaddin-ward.org 2013 Press Club of Southeast Texas Excellence in Media Award winner for Best Newsletter
Events Calendar Thursday, December 12 Movie Night: “We’re No Angels” 6:30 p.m. Lecture Hall
Thursday, December 19 Eggnog Evening and Christmas Light Ride 5-7 p.m. Lecture Hall
Saturday, December 14 Holiday Open House 1-4 p.m. Visitor Center
Thursday, January 30 Lecture: “Fakes and Forgeries in the Art Market” 6:30 p.m. Lecture Hall
Volunteer Calendar Wednesday, December 4 Volunteer Christmas Preview and Reception 10 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. Lecture Hall
Saturday, January 25 Volunteer Appreciation Banquet MCM Eleganté 11 a.m.
Saturday, December 28 JI Tour Day 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday, February 1 Junior Interpreter Banquet McFaddin-Ward House Visitor Center Noon
Sunday, December 29 JI Tour Day 1 to 4 p.m.
Monday, February 10 Volunteer Swap Meet 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lecture Hall Monday, February 17 (date tentative) MWH Book Club Lecture Hall Noon