Kit Stansbury was responsible for putting on the very first egg show (1971) in the United States, founding the International Egg Art Guild, and inspiring thousands of egg artists throughout the world.
I Remember Mama
By Alice Shearer
I was asked to write a little bit about memories of my “Mama”, referred to from here on as Mom, which is what I called the woman you know as Kit Stansbury. Writing is not my forte, and for awhile I thought about refusing. How do you put sixty years of memories in a few paragraphs?
Mom had just passed away the end of June (1999) and it still hurt an awful lot. After thinking a little longer, I felt that I wanted you to know a little bit more about the lady who you knew for her fervent desire to further the knowledge and enjoyment of egg art to people everywhere.
There was a lot more to her than that. Mom was definitely a people person who had a hard time saying “no” to anyone. As far back as I can remember she was always involved in all types of community affairs. As a family, we took part in every parade and celebration that came down the pike. On my husband Ken’s desk sits a blowup of a snapshot he found shortly after we were married. It is a picture of me at the age of one year, in a swimsuit and crown with a banner saying, “Miss America 1940”. I was walking with assistance in front of a float Mom had decorated with all kinds of red, white, and blue streamers. She did get us involved at an early age.
There were times when it seemed she was never home. Active in the PTA, not only on the local level, but county and state as well. Then there was choir practice one night and another night when she was an advisor to our church youth group.
Mom enjoyed all kinds of arts and crafts as well as sewing. Fro a time she made all of her own as well as my clothing. (Believe it or not, there was a time when I was so small for my age, the only way I could have clothes like the other kids were wearing, was if she made them for me). I remember when that ended! One day one of Mom’s friends asked me if I sewed. I made a remark that there was not reason for Me to learn, as Mom did it for me. As soon as that got back to her, that ended my having my own seamstress. She was more than willing to teach me though, and I soon started making my own clothes.
During our early years, my brother and I would tag along to the different school playgrounds in town where Mom served as director of arts and crafts. We learned to do all kinds of things and summers were fun. Then I became really sick and Mom’s life seemed to revolve around my needs.
We didn’t have a lot of money and it was a long time before I realized how much my family did without during these times. Every week we would take a bus to Philadelphia (which was 60 miles away) to see the specialist there. On days when I felt well enough, we would spend a couple of hours walking through the big department stores. This was always a treat, especially around the Christmas holidays.
I missed a lot of school over several years, too sick and weak to go. I was tutored at home. This was when Mom started inviting the neighborhood children to the house to teach us arts and crafts and to make sure I had company and didn’t feel totally isolated.
Mom and one of the town’s favorite teachers took on the task of establishing a group called “We-R-Teens”. the group had officers, with the adults as advisors, sponsored a big dance every Friday evening so that teenagers from all around the local area would have a place to spend time. Twice a year we would have a big formal dance, and Mom always was in charge of decorating the hall and making centerpieces and favors for all the tables. I can remember learning how to turn little soufflé cups into flowers, roses, daffodils, violets, made from crepe paper, to put mints in at every place.
Brother Bill and I were always tearing up newspaper for her many paper mache’ projects. Our home was always filled with projects, in some state of completion, setting all over. Dad even got involved in a lot of these projects and since he enjoyed cooking and was good at it, he took on that responsibility most of the time.
I was already out on my own and living in Maryland when Mom started working at the Youth Center, had her first egg show, and started publishing the Treasure Chest (later to become the Egger’s Journal). I wasn’t involved in the first few egg shows at all but then I started going to Phillipsburg to help out at her table.
It’s funny, but with all the things Mom taught me over the years, I don’t ever remember working on eggs with her until she moved down here a few years ago. I picked that up by going to shows, taking a few mini-classes that would be offered and helping with the acceptance of eggs for the contests and listening to what the judges had to say about the various eggs they were judging. She always encouraged me though, and I stayed involved, even agreeing to be the first membership chairman of the Egg Art Guild upon its formation. (It wasn’t difficult then).
While at the Youth Center, Mom taught all kinds of arts and crafts but especially ceramics to both children and adults. Working as a volunteer for several years after the Youth Center opened, she was eventually given the position of Director of Arts and Crafts. She held this position for 40 years, retiring at the age of 78, she moved down here to be closer to us.
Even after she came here, she got involved in teaching a group of children at the church next to where she lived, how to decorate eggs for trees to go on their altar for Easter. When my nursing career came to an abrupt halt, I opened my shop, Eggcetera, and Mom and I started going to several shows together each year. We really enjoyed that time together. Now she was my helper so she got to enjoy some of the shows as a spectator.
I could go on and on but to sum it up, she was always there for me, no matter what my need. Through sickness and troubled marriages, I soaked her shoulders many, many times and through happy times as well. Always setting a good example, she taught me to be a good and honest person.
I have been so blessed to have her all these years. She was not only my Mom, but my Best Friend as well and I have to say, I miss her terribly!