Fennville Women’s Club Member Rebecca Crane Will Share Stories From Fennville’s Own “Clock Watchers” 5:30 pm, Thursday, August 17
The City of Fennville will dedicate the outdoor bronze sculpture entitled Clock V by Kalamazoo artist Richard Light located in Hutchinson Park adjacent to the U.S. Post office and the clock tower, 5:30 pm, Thursday, August 17. The artist’s intent was to tell the story of a working woman who is a “clock watcher”. She checks the time often as she grapples with work and family responsibilities. The abstract style is similar to the art produced in the 1930’s and 1940’s when women found themselves in new roles, filling the jobs once performed by the men who had been called to war.
One of the local significant examples of this history is when the cannery located in downtown Fennville needed to recruit women workers. A version of a photo of the cannery’s workers may be viewed in the Fennville District Library’s exhibit Her Story, Then and Now: A Snapshot of Women in Fennville. The public is welcome to view the exhibit before walking over to the park for the dedication. This exhibit is a collaboration with the library and the Fennville Women’s Club and closes Monday, August 21.
Club member, Rebecca Crane has gathered oral histories from family members of some of the women who worked at the cannery and will share a few of these stories during the dedication. Some of the workers’ family members have also committed to attend and to share their memories when their grandmothers, mothers, or aunts had to step in and become” clock watchers”. A panoramic photo of the cannery women workers can be found hanging on the wall of Crane’s Pie Pantry Restaurant and Winery in Fennville.
Stories shared with Rebecca Crane include a memory relayed by Janice Hagger Orent, daughter to Frances Haan Hagger (b. 1919 d.2004) who worked on the canning line during the fruit and vegetable seasons. "The sharpest memory I have, involved me washing a lot of white aprons and gloves that Mother brought home from work. It seems odd now that the women were responsible for the washing of their aprons. And I always associated that canning factory whistle with her coming home soon!" Edie Foreman Cochran, daughter of Margaret Foreman told Rebecca Crane that her mother worked at the canners in the 40's. She told Rebecca Crane, “The women had to wear white uniform dresses and aprons and when they were into the beets, they would go home looking like they'd been murdered from the beet juice. They would then have to get the dresses and aprons white again for the next work day!”
Sculpture donors Garry Lee McCormick (area artist) and John V. Hall will be present at the dedication as will Maryjo Lemanski, local art expert who introduced the donors to Fennville’s community leaders. Garry Lee McCormick and John Hall began to collect art in the early 80’s and upon Light’s death were able to obtain many of his pieces. They are excited to help Fennville celebrate the many contributions made by the women of Fennville through their gift to the city.
Following the dedication ceremony, the public is welcome to enjoy the downtown social district offerings and the summer outdoor concert beginning at 6:30 pm at 125 S Maple Street. In case of inclement weather, the dedication ceremony and concert will be held at the library.
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