July 2011

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Michael Updike writes,

“While in Berks county, Liz, I and kids got to the Reading Museum and we were happy to see that the Drinking Girl fountain is back in her place on the third floor landing. They have our father’s description from The Centaur on display.

However, there is a slight twist to this situation in that from the water of the fountain emerges several Dale Chihuly red, green and yellow glass “reeds.” The girl is surrounded by them. It was a site-specific work that the museum commissioned, but I’m not convinced it is a successful marriage of contemporary glass and nineteenth century figurative work . . . although from the back the reeds rhythmically mimic her S-shaped posture.”

According to the Reading Public Museum, which hasn’t displayed Drinking Girl (by sculptor Edward McCartan) for three years prior to its current exhibition in conjunction with “Tiffany Lamps: Articles of Utility, Objects of Art,” the fountain that made a lasting impression on a young John Updike will remain on display for at least another six months. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. They are closed on Mondays. Admission is $8.00.

Bruce Posten wrote a story for the Reading Eagle. This report was written by Society board member Jack De Bellis:

In Plowville Cemetery, where generations of John Updike’s relatives rest, John Updike’s children, Liz, David, Michael and Miranda gathered to show publicly their love for their father. The ceremony took the form of the placing of a headstone carved by Michael with affection and wit on Pennsylvania slate. The stone featured John Updike’s signature in its many representations, including “Johnny” as he was known by his parents. Linda and Wesley Updike rested only inches from the headstone. Atop the monument Michael had carved an angel in the New England style, a face with wings. He cleverly carved his father’s smiling face showing that though he feared death all his life, he had a faith which would enable him to ascend, happily, to heaven. On the reverse of the stone Michael had cut both stanzas from Updike’s poem “Telephone Poles”. There was little doubt he still communicated with those assembled.

The gathering included the spouses of Miranda and David, many of their children, and one, Trevor, who bears his grandfather’s features to a remarkable degree. John Updike’s blood flowed in many veins. Also honoring John were his former classmates and lifelong friends Jackie Hirneisen Kendall and Joan Venne Youngerman; David Silcox, who had kept Updike abreast of Shillington news; Jack De Bellis, Alvernia University’s John Updike Scholar in Residence; and Patricia De Bellis. Read the rest of this entry »