Sunday, October 19, 2008
A campaign idea from the Taft era
Catherine Johnson, Architect, and current member of Middletown's Planning and Zoning Board, is running for the state legislature.
While most candidates are satisfied with printing up hundreds of yard signs and distributing them to supporters on high traffic thoroughfares, Johnson was inspired by a photo she spotted in the excellent, A Pictorial History of Middletown by Liz Warner. In it, the Thomas McDonough Russell House on High Street (now Wesleyan's Center for African-American studies) is festooned with patriotic bunting for a visit, in 1909, from President William Howard Taft.
This is not the only photo in Warner's book which demonstrates the art of abundant bunting, but it was the one which inspired Johnson.
She recruited her mother, who is an experienced seamstress, to help fashion similar bunting to decorate the beautifully restored Victorian home of Marilyn and Oran Mills on Broad Street, just across from the Russell Library. The bunting is fashioned from surplus spandex (which hasn't been much in demand since David Lee Roth left Van Halen), and Johnson mounted the display of patriotic stretch fabric at some danger to her own life and limb, often dangling from a step ladder on the second floor porch.
The results were worth it (though the real value will be judged after the election), as the Victorian has been transformed into a campaign display from another era.