Archive for Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Letters: Community rescues a piece of history

April 10, 2002

To the editor:

Long ago, there was a Health Clinic on Oak Street that needed "brightening up," so they asked Gray Von Friendly to "add some color." He painted a marvelous picture on a peg-board of the Bonner Springs Union Pacific depot, the railroad tracks and a steaming engine. The clinic is gone, the depot is gone and the train doesn't stop any more, but the painting has been rescued for display, eventually in the caboose at Centennial Park when it is ready. For the month of April, that painting and more of Mr. Von Friendly's work are on display in the window of the Bonner Springs Senior Center.

This has been a real community effort. Ella Mae Mitchell knew about the picture nearly hidden by items on the pegboard at Vaughn-Trent Thrift Store, photographed it and publicized its location. She called on Twila Williams for her input; then they talked to Marcia Ashford and Carol Geary to try to preserve it for the city. Mort Holmes, owner of the building, agreed to give it to the city for its historical value. The BEAS (Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Area Singles) paid to replace the pegboard; the idea was presented to Connie Harrington and the Bonner Springs Historical Society and they approved the idea. But the painting remained on the wall.

Finally, Bernice and Robert Campbell, employees of the thrift store, decided to tackle the job and removed the 8-by-4 foot board. They helped put it into Twila's van to go to the Senior Center, where Nancy Johnson agreed to display it. It was too large to go in the window, so Dan Miller cut it to fit in the space. Nancy built a display using more of Mr. Von Friendly's paintings "Bonner Arch," "Kaw Valley car barn and interurban" and the "McDanield Home at 110 Forest."

We thank Joanna Leineger for her work in displaying many of the pictures in the Library window for the month of March, and to Linda Ross for the use of her painting.

The depot is gone, trains don't stop for passengers, but that part of Bonner Springs history is preserved forever.

Just a word about the artist. Gray has lived here most of his life, much in the home he painted at 110 Forest. He always liked to draw, using pencil, pen and ink, and only got into oil painting in the last 25 to 30 years. He gave most of his pictures away; Gray and his wife, Margaret, and son live in the Bonner Springs area. We would like to thank them for their generosity in loaning us the painting.

Twila Williams and Ella Mae Mitchell

Bonner Springs

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