artNotes from Hyde House: You Must Be Living Right

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“You must be living right,” she told me during one of the early calls I made to Kansas City.

Some days later, viewing the pages of my photo journal, she added, “This is almost unbelievable.  That nothing was really damaged and that it all got taken care of so efficiently. Thank you so much.”

These are the bookends of my story—the beginning and the ending. Looking back the experience seems surreal. My gratitude still grows.

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High winds blew through Carthage the night before. They seemed to be raging. Some say a twister or two may have dipped into our town. All I know is that a force hit hard at Hyde House.

Arriving on the campus that early morning after the big blow, something felt different. A hole gaped in the skyscape. The vivid blue was no longer filled with towering, budding branches. Stripped down from the mount, the lawn’s security lamp dangled from the post. A live electrical wire snaked across the ground.

Stunned, I paused to make a plan: 1) Call the utility company; 2) call the Hyde House property manager in Kansas City, report my discoveries and secure permission to take next steps; 3) reach out to the tree service to access and bid removal; and 4) practice gratitude.

Beginning with gratitude, walking around the massive pin oak—75 or 100 years old or more—stretched out beside but away from the Pottery House, my gratitude list grew ever greater. There was no structural damage to this building, or to any other. The historic well was not crushed yet still in peril with the mammoth trunk hovering eight inches above. Though portions of the vintage sidewalks, hand-mortared and made of Carthage marble, rose up in disarray like peaked waves on an ocean, they could be reset. The carving-adorned cement bench favored by artCampers was untouched. So, too, the towering rough-hewn obelisk brought in by Bob Tommey for his sculpture-making class.

A three day marathon took off with the weather window rapidly closing before the next round of spring showers.

Day One: Calls were made. CWEP was on site within the hour. Power was cut: the downed line made safe. KC gave permission to reach out for work estimates. The electrician came quickly and restored the power contact point torn from the Pottery House. CWEP returned and installed a new security light. The power was turned back on. The tree service bid was received.

Day Two: Greg Wilkerson, owner of Affordable Tree Service in Joplin, brought his crew plus a bobcat, trucks for hauling and lifting a bucket, as well as chain saws and rakes. Before 5:00 p.m. their work was done, but still removal of the enormous trunk, stump and root ball had to be accomplished. Thankfully, Greg went the extra distance before leaving: he contacted Neal Asbell of Asbell Excavating and Trucking Inc. in Carl Junction and facilitated an onsite assessment and strategized using heavy equipment for final work to be done the next day.

Day Three: From 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., Asbell workers brought in, off-loaded and reloaded equipment (including a giant excavator) and delivered top soil, grass seed and straw to repair the lawn. Two men worked the excavator for the trunk and stump removal. They filled the huge crater left by the stump. The same two did the entire lawn repair then reset and mortared the broken portions of the walkways.

I am so very grateful for the Kansas City folks caring for Katherine Hyde’s legacy, for their trusting me to do my part and for all the help that came.

Still hearing the echoes of “You must be living right….This is almost unbelievable,” more than ever, I am convinced that Katherine Hyde continues watching over the home she loved and has entrusted to us. Perhaps, “Don’t Fear the Wind” by David Greenwood-Mathé, that fragile wooden work that stood beside the giant oak and remains standing today, also levered super power that worked on our behalf!

Come see the super powers of artists on display inside Hyde House! FOILED AGAIN! remains on exhibit through March 18.

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