We sat together in that old Southern house on Lancaster Street. If you were quiet, you could hear it groaning with the years it has lived. Built in 1900, by the Rev. Thomas Henry Ayers, DDS, who not only left this wonderful monument to his heirs but also the family history that fills good hearts with the joys of accomplishment.
Vivian Ayers Allen is a product of that legend, and it was indeed a marvelous couple of hours that I listened, learned and appreciated all that has taken place in her 80 some years of social and intellectual triumph.
That wonderful house is filled with things that rattle the memory of one who has lived a long time. A WPA mural is placed squarely on the back wall of the sitting room, a reminder of FDR and his quest to recognize artists. Who, without him, would have lain fallow in the Great Depression world of financial and social suffering.
A painting above the mantel tells us more about this marvelous family and all they have given to this nation, but most of all to the South. A gentle reminder that indeed "black folks" made immense contributions to this place where we live and I, a small-time writer from the county of Chester, had a chance to hear, see and learn.
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I discovered that she, Vivian Ayers Allen, was favored by a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 1952 for her stirring poem "Hawk," written with a clear understanding of the mightiness of this avian giant. This literary creation was, for more than 20 years, the only poetry celebrated by NASA.
Her work in 1972, "Workshops in Open Fields," was introduced and recommended by the National Endowment for the Arts. It was there that Allen also established the Adept New American Museum, a place to see and enjoy the art and history of the American Southwest.
Along with creating writing and introducing new artistic concepts, she, for 15 years, studiously began to delve into classical Greek. This, of course, introduced her to the study of languages and how they happen. Mrs. Allen has an unlimited curiosity that moves at a rapid pace from one day to another. Never satisfied, never believing that she knows it all, and forever searching for another intellectual avenue. Her days are consumed with the delight of thinking, writing and learning; she truly knows there is much to garner, even at the age of 80 plus.
We talked of mutual interests and the pleasure we enjoyed by living in Mexico and the rewards of that sweet place. She studied the Mayan culture and their advanced learning in math and astronomy. We agreed, we were and always will be sisters in adventures, learning and just plain joy.
On Sunday, Vivian Ayers Allen and Shirley Keyser Gleicher will ride in the car for the marshals. We will be sharing our five minutes of fame, with the people of Chester in their Christmas Parade. It is a great honor, and Vivian and I are delighted to have been chosen.
Know that we will talk and laugh in all of our dressed up "grandness" and wish from our hearts a blessed and wonderful Christmas to all of you.