Sunday, March 3, 2013

Radiant In White

Amherst History Museum displays Emily Dickinson's only surviving article of clothing: white dress (photo by Jim Wald)

On March 14 the Amherst Community Preservation Act Committee will decide the cosmetic fate of Emily Dickinson's simple, unlike her, white dress ... which has not been cleaned since the early-1980s. And even then, a task probably not all that properly performed.

What is the cost of professionally dry cleaning Superman's cape?  $1,000.  Yes, pocket change.

Although the Amherst Historical Society is also requesting an additional $20,000 for improvements to the Strong House, home of the Amherst History Museum.  The museum is located next door to Amherst's other downtown gem, the Jones Library.

Town Meeting will have to approve the CPA committee's recommendations, but they usually do.

Via the CPA Amherst has been good to our resident icon over the past few years, appropriating money to renovate/preserve the black ornate iron fence around her final resting place in West Cemetery, improving lighting and signage around the cemetery itself, and helped with a small amount of seed money for the transformation of the landscape around Miss Emily's home.

While our reclusive poetic genius was indeed, wrapped in white for her funeral then lovingly ensconced in a white coffin for her final journey to West Cemetery, it's more of an urban legend that she dressed only in white.

Still, this simple -- but priceless -- white dress is all we have.  Also priceless?  Respect!


Tom McBride said...

I believe we should save things in Amherst like history, and the trees along our streets because it's all we have. Because I believe in development we should not be saving things like golf courses and acres and acres of conservation land and other protected land. I'm not too sure Larry is too crazy about Emily (maybe I misread something), but we should just clean the dress and be done with it. She's nationally and internationally remembered, although we tend to see her as just another historical figure from Amherst.

Larry Kelley said...

I think maybe you read that a tad too fast Tom.

I will picket Town Meeting stark naked if they don't come up with a lousy $1,000 and "be done with it."

Anonymous said...

I have always been curious as to what the measurements of the dress is, to see what height she was