Thursday, October 3, 2013

Our "Excellent Little Lady" by Leann O'Neill

Our “Excellent Little Lady”
By Leann O'Neill

A Compilation of Thoughts by All ~ September 30, 2013
How do we honor a woman who has given us all so much
One who shared her vision and talents with a very special touch
For all you’ve done that we know about; for all about which we don’t have a clue! 
Vicki, you’ll be missed more than words can say.  This tribute is for you.

Fourteen years with the museum, starting off without much training
Then she studied to become Curator, and her knowledge just kept gaining
In the A-frame to start off with in spaces so cramped and so small
Such wonderful working conditions with no room for anything at all
A desk right beside Jennifer, for convenience, everyone thought
But Vic soon moved to the kitchen ‘cause Jennifer talked a lot!
A multi-purpose area that Formica counter became
Food prep, carpentry, exhibit starts – it was all the same
On one side was the copy room, the lounge, storage, and meeting place
“What could she do for fun each day?”  Try turning around in that space!
Piled floor to ceiling with boxes, papers, photos; never pristine
It was the messiest, coldest, most odorous office anyone had ever seen
Many road trips were involved for each exhibit and artifact
Stories of those travels and getting lost are endless. Amazing they ever made it back!
For years there was lots of brainstorming about traveling trunks, displays and more
Vicki quietly infused everyone with energy that opened so many doors
“Do not touch; alarm will sound,” a museum mantra she couldn’t endure
If ever there was a new museum, she’d have interactives for sure.

Many years of dreaming and just never giving up
Meant finally time to leave the A-frame, and pack up all that stuff
Such a dusty, nasty job and Vicki insisted on masks
Seems air quality wasn’t the best during those moving tasks
So on to the Sehmel building – every exhibit has Vicki’s stamp
Countless hours always spent to create, design and revamp
A “New Place in Time” was about to take shape; the dream of so many in town
Vicki’s attention to detail and leadership meant a museum of renown
Vicki’s commitment to the museum is like the United States PO
She never let rain or heat keep her down; even trudged to work in the snow
We could call her “Recycle Queen,” both for garbage and exhibit displays
And who could forget the rats and cockroaches in “An Excellent Little Bay”
An expert by choice; she learned on her own for love of history and this town
Never one for kudos; for previews and openings, often not even around
Exhibits so varied, fascinating; hundreds of flags, astounding textiles
Intriguing sandpits, golden oldies, woven baskets, and even scary reptiles
Life-sized surrey, wagon pulled by goats, former storefronts, vintage clothes
Undersea creatures, incredibly big; Maritime Art and PAL Juried Shows
Photographs of gigantic size and a Christmas card collection
Stories of quilts and tapestries; “Requiem for Trees;” a 9/11 place for reflection
QR codes, audio tours, Backpacks for Kids; “Savage Ancient Seas” blockbuster
Up ‘til all hours with exhibit installation; nothing could deter or fluster
The “Pioneer School Experience” for schoolchildren to take part
They just can’t wait to go back in time after the school bell start
Then off they go to the galleries for “I Spy” and history lessons
All the while knowing “we’re gonna be friends” long before the end of the sessions
Leveling signs, straightening letters, display cases and Plexiglas walls
Pedestals, placards, reader rails, emails and seemingly endless phone calls

No place she’d refuse to work or crawl, often with flashlight in hand
Even when searching for that horrible stench, Vicki was in command
A wealth of knowledge is in her head; tons of facts in her memory
Questions always answered for docents and guests, much fast than Google or Siri
Although she owned a few vehicles, her BMW sports car was frequently found
Sitting there in the parking lot, then she’d roar out with the top down
We’re lucky to have a real schoolhouse and a real fishing boat too
And all of us who worked with her know, she’s the “real deal” through and through
Never afraid to climb ladders and we’re not talking a social one
Changing light bulbs, putting banners outside, replacing TP; now who’ll get these jobs done?
A mentor for so many others; she let us into her world
Researcher, director, manager – the “Above and Beyond Curator Girl”
Loyal, generous, compassionate, professional, even keeled
Enthusiastic, diligent, inquisitive, incredible leadership revealed
Devoted, creative, tireless; we’re all in awe of her skill
Always going the extra miles and millenniums so history could delight and thrill
Never a prima donna, great sense of humor, incredibly smart
Now every visitor can touch, feel and learn from Vicki’s “works of heart”
Award-winning programs and grant writing; there’s nothing Vicki can’t do
All of us just keep shaking our heads.  Whatever will we do without you?
Vicki, you have been our rock, laying foundation so crystal clear

As good as gold, the salt of the earth.  Your value is cast in stone here
You always found the silver lining; in every job, you were top brass
It’s been our privilege to work with you.  Everything you do is first class
No matter the task, you’ve always found treasure; you’re a visionary beyond parallel
To say you’ll be missed is an understatement.  You’re irreplaceable, Mrs. Blackwell
We know this decision was not easy for you – it was complex and hard and weighty
Just know, for sure, that you will always be our “Excellent Little Lady!”

© 2012 Harbor History Museum. All rights reserved.

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