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I have been to Oberlin College twice. In 2002, I traveled through Oberlin on my return trip from visiting the Glenn Curtiss Aviation Museum in Hammonsport, New York. I tried to locate the fountatin dedicated to Katharine Wright Haskell; however, no one seemed to know where it was.

This past March, I drove to Baldwin-Wallace College to watch a premiere of a drama by Jack Winget. En route, I stopped through Oberlin, having researched the fountain’s location. Most of it was covered, but the cherub was clearly visible.

I just received this link to the following article from Betty Gabrielli… neat article about the memorial fountain.

Seventy-six years ago, a marble fountain crowned by a small boy playing with a dolphin first graced the plaza fronting Allen Memorial Art Museum. The bronze figure, a replica of the original by the 15th-century Florentine artist Andrea del Verrocchio, was a small, delicate sculpture, an angel lifting into the air on wings.

The fountain is a kind of love letter to Katharine Wright, the sister and “third member” of the powered-flight team of Wilbur and Orville Wright, from her husband, journalist Henry “Harry” Haskell.

At Oberlin, Katharine was a member of the Class of 1898. Harry, who was two years ahead of her, tutored her in math. They remained friends after graduating, and during the next 30 years, Katharine not only went on to support her brothers, Wilbur and Orville, but she also became the second woman ever elected to the Oberlin’s Board of Trustees. During that time, Harry married and became a journalist, winning two Pulitzer Prizes and eventually editing the Kansas City Star.

In the 1920s, with Harry now a widower, they began a courtship, largely by letters. In 1926, despite the adamant opposition of Orville, who had been Katharine’s constant companion for 14 years after Wilbur’s death, Katharine and Harry married. “They were two Victorian people caught up in a passion that neither understood,” says Harry’s grandson, Harry Haskell. “They were swept off their feet by each other.” But their happiness was short lived. In 1929, while preparing for a European trip, Katharine caught a cold that turned into pneumonia. She died on March 3 at the age of 54.

In 1931, as a tribute to Katharine, a bereft Harry sent 25 crates of hand-cut Italian marble to Oberlin to be assembled as a fountain and inscribed with the words: “To Katharine Wright Haskell 1874-1929.” Installed near the Allen Memorial Art Museum, the fountain quickly became a campus favorite, attracting visitors, students, and bridal parties, but over the years the structure began to deteriorate, and the water flow eventually ceased

That has recently changed. Thanks to the generosity of many donors, including friends and family members, particularly the late Katharine Wright Chaffee ’44 and the Wright Family Foundation in Dayton, Ohio, the fountain has been restored to full working condition by internationally recognized Fairplay Stonecarvers of Oberlin.  

To celebrate its restoration, a public program will be held Friday, September 28 at 1:30 p.m. on the lawn of the art museum, located at 87 North Main Street in Oberlin. Among the speakers will be Judith Haskell Zernich ’72, granddaughter of Henry J. Haskell; Marianne Hudec, grandniece of Wilbur, Orville, and Katharine Wright; James P. Howard, director of principal gifts at Oberlin; Stephanie Wiles, John G.W. Cowles Director of the Allen Memorial Art Museum; and sculptor Nicholas G. Fairplay.

In the event of inclement weather, the program will take place in the museum.

Media Contact:  Betty Gabrielli

A century ago, aviation marvel occurred with flight by Glenn Curtiss

HAMMONDSPORT, N.Y. — On a steamy Fourth of July evening a century ago, a wood-and-fabric biplane lifted off from Stony Brook Farm and stayed airborne for about 1.5 kilometres in a stupendous triumph over gravity witnessed by more than 2,000 people.

It was the first pre-announced public flight in America, the first heavier-than-air flying machine outside Europe to officially remain aloft and under control for a kilometre or more. And it helped elevate pilot Glenn H. Curtiss to national hero status – to the dismay of Orville and Wilbur Wright.

The Wrights’ epochal flight over the dunes at Kitty Hawk, N.C., in 1903 had been cloaked in secrecy. Fearing their ideas would be stolen, the Ohio brothers spent much of the next five years out of the public eye as they tried to lock down patents to secure commercial control over the nascent aerial age. Historians say their first flights were spotted only by five passersby, and before Curtiss made his mark, fewer than 100 Americans had glimpsed the marvel of aviation.

In Europe, by contrast, “people were showing up by the hundreds and even the thousands” to watch pioneers of flying, said Tom Crouch, a Wright brothers biographer and senior curator of aeronautics at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

Curtiss, a motorcycle builder who set a land speed record of 219 km/h in January 1907, accepted an invitation that summer to supply powerful, lightweight engines to a five-member Aerial Experiment Association led by inventor Alexander Graham Bell.

Within a year, the team invited the Aero Club of America to send representatives to Curtiss’ tiny hometown of Hammondsport in western New York to observe his attempt to fly its insectlike June Bug plane across bucolic Pleasant Valley on Independence Day 1908.

His first try when the overcast skies finally cleared late in the day could have ended in disaster. The June Bug, which was supposed to rise only a few metres, shot more than 60 metres above the crowd before Curtiss cut the eight-cylinder engine and glided back down without causing damage. The tail section had been wrongly angled.

On his second attempt at around 7:30 p.m., the plane with its crackling, smoky engine bobbed unevenly three to six metres above vineyards, potato fields and a racetrack. It flew for 1,551 metres in 1 minute, 42.5 seconds before touching down just short of the village limits.

Crowded on the grassy hillsides, onlookers roared out their delight, honked their horse-and-buggy horns and swarmed down into the fields and adjacent pastures to greet the intense but taciturn aviator.

“This thing was wobbling back and forth and up and down, but it kept going and going and going as everybody got more and more excited,” said Trafford Doherty, director of the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum and grandson of a Curtiss test pilot.

Looking out across the same crop field in Pleasant Valley, with tree-topped ridges on each side and a sliver of Keuka Lake barely visible on the horizon, Doherty noted little has changed about the site that locals hope to have listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

At a picnic and music gala on Saturday, a model club plans to fly a quarter-scale, remote-controlled model of the June Bug above the valley. A full-scale reproduction sits in the nearby Curtiss museum, which is packed with aircraft, motorbikes and memorabilia and draws 30,000 visitors a year.

Soon after the June Bug success, the Wrights went to court to try to keep Curtiss planes off the market in a labyrinthine dispute only set aside with America’s entry into the First World War in 1917.

“I’m well aware of their genius, but I think the Wright brothers also hampered the development of American aviation through patents and court battles,” Doherty said.

Crouch thinks too much is made of the rivalry.

“The Wright brothers may have driven a few small potatoes out of the field, but they certainly didn’t have a big impact on Glenn Curtiss,” Crouch said. “He’s a much better businessman than they are.”

Curtiss racked up dozens of patents for landing gear, ailerons and other innovations still present in aircraft today. He developed the first practical seaplane in 1911 and the flying boat in 1912, earning renown as “the father of naval aviation.” From 1916 to 1918, he turned Buffalo into the airplane manufacturing hub of America.

He rolled out success after success: The first open flying school in the U.S. The first water-cooled engines, to extend air travel. A Curtiss-designed behemoth vanquished the Atlantic in 1919, only stopping on the Azores, 17 days before Britons John Alcock and Arthur Brown made the first non-stop crossing.

“You get told in grade school that the Wright brothers invented the airplane, but it’s a great simplification,” Doherty said. “This was a science that was developing all over the world.”

The Wrights were undeniably first, but others moved the technology forward, he added. “Now, at last, you’re starting to see a more even-handed attitude toward Curtiss.”

Last year, we were standing at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, during a naturalization ceremony… this year, was more personally nostalgic.Jose and I left Chicago this morning at 7:30am, lost an hour through the time change, and my family in Warsaw, Indiana.

Mother, along with my great-aunt, Norma (Grandpa Barmes’ younger sister), and Uncle Jack (Norma’s husband), and my Uncle Danny (he is actually my grandfather’s younger brother – 22 yrs younger, and 9 months older than Mother!) went to lunch, and then paid a nostalgic visit to Dewart Lake – the retirement home of my great-grandfather (Aunt Norma and Uncle Danny’s father). The home was purchased somewhere between 1959-1962. Grandpa Virgil added on to the house, and built a garage, and workshop.

The house is up for sale, and Uncle Danny pounced on it! Within 20 minutes he was discussing the matt! er with the Realtor.

We peaked inside through windows and I took some photos of the original cabinets Grandpa Virgil built. The garage door was open, and there we found even more cabinets!

Uncle Danny, Jose and I walked to the lake and spent some time talking to folks who lived there. The lake, with the island and Grandpa’s pier, was one of the most peaceful, beautiful moments of this trip.

Over in the swamp lived the famed WOOFENWAFUS.

Grandpa Virgil lost two fingers on one hand in an accident with a table saw. To keep all the grandchildren, and later, great-grandchildren from wandering to the lake alone, he created this creature who lived in the lake – the Woofenwafus. Mother said she even use to sit on her hands for fear the creature would chew her fingers off her hands.

One Christmas, when I was about 5 or 6, Grandpa Virgil pulled me on to his lap and told me a hunter had caught the Woofenwafus out of the lake one morning and shot him… the creature died. However, I was assured there wou! ld be mo re baby woofenwafus clamouring out of the nest that following spring… sadly, the creator of the Woofenwafus, known to countless others beyond our family, passed away that September… Grandpa Virgil is no longer with us, but the Woofenwafus lives on in the woods at Uncle Danny & Aunt Bonnie’s farm, and one cousin told me it is sometimes in the trunk of her car when a son wishes to not behave.

Once, my grandfather drove me up to Dewart to go ice fishing with Grandpa Virgil. On the ride up, I was told that Grandpa Virgil was chopping a hole big enough for the boat to fit in… of course, we arrived to the ice house, instead.

So you see, Dewart Lake, to me, is truly Grandpa Virgil. Many gatherings were held here, and many wonderful times.

We left the family and ventured around the lake to Quaker Haven. I knew of the location while growing up, and was re-introduced to the camp in 2005 by Amanda Berlon and her family. Jose and Caleb Berlon went to! camp there for a week, and this was fun for Jose to visit. He took some photos, and eagerly told me of the fun things he had done while at camp… it was finally a break from stories of being with Uncle Destin and Aunt Stacia…

We left Dewart Lake – and for some reason, I believe I will be returning… I arrived thinking of this as sort of a farewell visit as there did not seem any reason to return… however….

We headed north to Syracuse, about 15 miles away, and there I visited one of my most favorite places from my high school and early college years… Smith-Walbridge Drum-Major Camp.

In 1979, I became one of the first freshman drum-majors in the country. Tudy Smith, the nationally known baton instructor was our choreographer at Elwood, and she insisted I attend this camp… and I did.

Four remarkable years as a student, and several as an instructor. Last week, I wrote Gary Smith, the son of the camp’s founder, and he cautioned me that it was run down in appearance… and it is… but still, enough of the camp was still standing.

Twenty-nine years ago on July 7th, I arrived at Smith-Walbridge Camp, and my life changed…

Today was just the best way to end a few fun filled days with Jose, and ending it with family, and wonderful visitations to sites deeply carved into memories from youth….


After leaving Navy Pier, we took the bus to Shedd Acquarium and Science and Industry Museum at the southern end of Grant Park… wow. I forgot just how much I missed this place.

After these visits – including a fantastic 4-D movie in Shedd, we traveled along the lake watching folks set up for the fireworks that evening. Incredile.

We wandered through Grant Park (tons of walking!!!), and then headed to eat at a KFC. We ventured back out to Grant Park and talk about tons of humanity – most of which I did not care to roam into… it was PACKED. The estimate was 1.8 million people to watch the fireworks… 150,000 in downtown Dayton is too many for me, so you can imagine that the wall to wall flesh was disgusting.

While wandering through the park (yes, I could have used the word “strolling” just to amuse you), we came across the USArmy site… Jose was in heaven. The sign-in was quite lengthy, but we had time. They really know how to schmooze! What great recruits…

“Sir, would you like to sign up for information?”

“No, I am 43 years old.”

“Get out of here… you don’t look like you are past your early thirties….”

And it was then my concerns grew…. if young privates are lying to me, can you imagine what it must be like at the Pentagon???

We then ventured on the Army Jazz band performing during Taste of Chicago.

We settled in a nice area on the northeast corner of Grant Park, across from Millenium Park. I decided this would be the best place to watch, and to run when it was over. I figured I would rather have 1.8 million people following me rather than me trailing behind them. The Chicago Symphony was right next to us… delightful evening.




DAY TWO – July 2nd, 2008 – was spent at Six Flags Great America…. WOW!  Started at 10:00am – longest lines were 15 minutes max – except for two – and they were over an hour…. walked on rides…. 

DAY THREE – July 3rd, 2008

Morning – University of Chicago….

Took the commuter train from Mount Prospect into the city… hopped on the above ground train, and took the Green Line train to the University of Chicago.

While waiting for the train, we began chatting with a couple who had just moved to the city… long story short, she is an actress – and she and her fiancee grew up in Dayton… his next door neighbor was Jim & Jerry Lake from North Riverdale Lutheran Church!

We got off at Washington Park, and walked through it, arriving at the UofC hospital where Nathaniel Stevens was born. We walked through the campus – one of my all time favorite campus! es, and saw where my good friend, Rick Donichar, lived while working on his graduate studies. Ironically, Monte Stevens lived in the same area while attending seminary. After he and Chris married, she worked on campus. The Stevens and I realized we had been attending the same churches between 1986-1990!

After that trip down memory lane, we hopped on a bus and headed to the Green Line, and another bus which deposited us at Navy Pier! One of the most beautiful places in Chicago. We ate lunch, walked the pier, and enjoyed our time…




Tuesday morning….Left Dayton, Ohio at 6:30am. Arrived in Fowler, Indiana at 9:30am. Chatted with my sister-in-law, Stacia, for a few minutes, and of course, Parker (Frederick was asleep); packed Jose’s items and we were off toward Chicago by 10:30am. As we were heading to the school we passed Destin – pulled over on the side of the road and chatted for a few minutes.

For the next two hours to the hotel, Jose was animated about all the fun he had with Destin, Stacia, the boys, Stacia’s mom, Norma, and all the work he did while there for three weeks. Had Flyer been with him, I believe Jose could stay there all summer.

We had a terribly easy trip into Chicago, all the way up Route 41, and then on to I-90 – and on to our hotel north of O’Hare in Elk Grove Village. We were checked into our room by 12:30pm (we gained an hour), and I took a nap. We drove over to this lovely little place called Mount Prospect to catch the train into the cit! y – the only way to travel in a large city. The train station is very 1900’s, and across the street was an attorney, named Haas.

Chicago is beautiful, and as you will see, the architecture captured me.

Our first stop was Sears Tower… what an impressive view. I have been up in the World Train Center and Empire State Building but not Sears. Amazing… and a clear, beautiful afternoon.

We hiked further into the city, towards Lake Michigan, stopping to eat at McDonalds.

We walked through half of Grant Park where the Taste of Chicago event was just getting under way…. it was crowded, but the crowds were yet to come!

Millenium Park is a must for any visit to this city… the tall fountains had faces that spit water – but the spitting had ceased while we were there.

The kidney shaped mirror was neat, as was the amphitheatre.

Back through Grant Park, and up to Buckingham Fountain – nothing to do with Queen Liz II and her hou! se – just a wealthy patron. You may recognize this fountain at! the beg inning of the television show, MARRIED WITH CHILDREN.

The Lincoln Museum from Springfield had a trailer with some Lincoln items – no originals… but I had a taste of Lincoln.

The street lights caught Jose’s attention – and once you see the globes, I assume you will understand why.

Then, at the bridge was a column with lights… something struck me but the image was in black and white… and then I remembered seeing a photograph of my grandmother, Donna Clary Barmes, standing on the rail for a photo – when she was visiting her uncle and aunt, Alphie & Clara Jones.

The last photo was of the marquee for JERSEY BOYS where a former student is playing.

Kenneth Jones Playbill On-Line Thu Jul 3, 9:44 AM ET

She was a founding member of Chicago Musical Theatre Works (CMTW), a collective of Windy City musical writers who sought to establish Chicago as a place where musicals were developed. The group’s efforts included public readings of new works. Recently, an offshoot group would meet for critique sessions of their dawning works.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Ms. McKenny was born in Dayton, OH, in 1951, where she attended Alter High School and was a co-founder of Summer Youth Theatre Company (SYTCO). At Northwestern, she earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Oral Interpretation. She liked to say that she majored in “reading aloud,” friends said.

While at Northwestern she wrote her first play, Chautauqua, seen at the university, in a local professional production and at other colleges. At the time of her death she had just completed her first draft of a play about the Greek goddess Psyche.

For 30 years, she collaborated on industrials, plays, musicals and other projects with writing partner and fellow Northwestern University grad Doug Frew, who is now executor of her writing. They shared book and lyric credits and worked with various composers over the years.

For three seasons, Ms. McKenny, Frew and David Roe wrote for Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”

McKenny and Frew’s musical about George Sand, Becoming George, with composer Linda Eisenstein, was chosen for the Pages to Stages development program at the Kennedy Center and premiered in spring 2006 at Metro Stage in Alexandria, VA.

Their musical 90 North, written with composer Daniel Sticco, won ASCAP’s 1997 Outstanding New Musical Award, was nominated for the Sammy Cahn Lyricist Award, and helped launch ASCAP’s “In the Works” new musicals program at the Kennedy Center in 2000 with artistic director Stephen Schwartz.

Her other works include Lady Lovelace’s Objection (with Doug Frew) and a 1920s Chicago-set play, Towertown, completed in 2007.

With Frew and Andrew Hansen, she won the After Dark Award and was nominated for the Joseph Jefferson Award for incidental music and lyrics in She Stoops to Conquer at Northlight Theatre.

In addition to narrative musical theatre works, she wrote standalone songs with many composers, and her songs were sought by Chicago cabaret performers, including Kat Taylor.

In a note that was distributed to members of the group Chicago Cabaret Professionals, Taylor reflected on Ms. McKenny: “She was a writer a story teller, a lyricist, a playwright, songwriter, freelance corporate communications writer, voice over performer, oral interpreter, producer, director, a networking business woman, an organizer extraordinaire with a work ethic astounding to behold. She was the glue that held her many friends and acquaintances together, a true and loyal friend, a loving sister and the best aunt. She was and is an inspiration. And we will miss her.”

Cheri Coons, a Chicago lyricist and librettist, told, “Patti was driven by the idea that, in her words, ‘It takes a village to raise a curtain.’ She was the driving force behind Chicago Musical Theatre Works, and lived to see her dream realized of the first Disney ASCAP Workshop in Chicago, largely because of the efforts of CMTW. She was a true connecter a committed community-builder, a magical writer, and an inspirational friend.”

Ms. McKenny was a co-founder of Studiomedia recording studio, a member of Chautauqua Preservation Society, a member of the Dramatists Guild, and an active member of Chicago Women in Publishing.

She is survived by her brother Don McKenny and his wife Diane, her nieces Trish and Molly and nephew Sam, and a countless extended family of friends across the country. Her parents Donald and Martha McKenny predeceased her.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

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July 2008
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