By Jean Clark
Family and friends of Polly Page streamed into the Pleasant Hill Community House to honor the community’s most famous citizen June 22. Page, who turned 95 the following week, belies her age with her steady hand at carving and running various woodworking machines in her shop.
Page is a woodcarver and doll maker who has been a respected figure in traditional Tennessee crafts since World War II. Trained in the craft program at the Pleasant Hill Academy, she is known for a variety of animal and human figures, including her signature Aunt Jenny and Uncle Pink dolls. Her dolls have been exhibited at the Smithsonian and other folk museums around the world.
On display in the Community House were some of her carvings and the attractive Governor’s Award for Folklife Heritage, which Page was honored with this year. Everyone enjoyed cake and ice cream in celebration of Page’s upcoming birthday.
Her teachers at the academy, Tom Brown and Margaret Campbell, had designed the dolls Uncle Pink and Aunt Jenny based on real mountain people of the area and taught the academy students how to carve the heads, hands and make their jointed limbs. After the academy closed, Page worked with Margaret Campbell and Earl Clark in the Craft Shop, working, teaching, or demonstrating her work.
When the Pleasant Hill Community Center closed the Craft Shop, she built and opened Polly Page Craft Center on the edge of Pleasant Hill in 1969. Here four workshops are crammed with all kinds of wood, driftwood, baskets filled with odds and ends, paints, templates, interesting bits and pieces of feathers, beads, etc. Also housed in these rooms are two jigsaws, three bandsaws, a variety of hand saws and other tools.
Although best known for her renditions of Uncle Pink and Aunt Jenny, Page has designed and carved a myriad of other characters; Miss Hitty; Mark and Robin (based on her own children); families of ducks, pigs and rabbits; the gossips; Tennessee walking horses; angels; the shy fox; and nativity scenes among others. She has carved likenesses of her three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren when they were between ages two and six.
The Folklife Heritage Award recognizes folk artists or organizations that have made outstanding contributions to artistic tradition. The award is intended to honor long-term achievements within art forms rooted in the traditional culture of Tennessee. The award was established by the Tennessee Arts Commission in 1971 and is the highest honor in the arts. Page is one of 25 persons recognized and honored by the Tennessee Arts Commission’s project book, Tradition: Tennessee Lives and Legacies, profiling those who actively preserve folk traditions.
At the July Pleasant Hill Town Council meeting, plans were made for the town’s first fall craft show to be held on the grounds of the Pleasant Hill Community House on Saturday, Sept. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is hoped that many of the local excellent artisans will be on exhibit with their variety of crafts for sale. Food vendors will be included as well as nonprofit organizations who wish to participate. Spaces will be available for $35 and may be reserved with the town clerk, Heather Gunter, by calling 277-3813.
Vice Mayor Diane Savage announced that school would resume Aug. 7, with a full day scheduled for Aug. 9. Lisa Patrick relayed the information from the sheriff’s department that the Fraternal Order of Police is seeking donations to provide funds for providing school materials for their annual Shop with a Cop. The town council approved donating $1,000 in school supplies to Pleasant Hill Elementary students. The clerk also announced that the new Pleasant Girl Scout Troop 2907 would be holding a pancake breakfast Saturday, Aug. 10, from 7 to 10 a.m. in the Pleasant Hill Community House, or a $5 donation. There will be lots of activities going on in Pleasant Hill.
A spaghetti lunch benefit for an injured Uplands Village employee will be Saturday, July 19, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Adshead Hall of Fletcher House. Donations will be accepted.
The Shalom Center for Continuing Education is holding a program on immigration reform in Adshead Hall of Fletcher House on Friday and Saturday, July 19 and 20. After the Friday 5:30 p.m. potluck in Adshead Hall of Fletcher House, Stephanie Teatro of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) will begin the program with “Immigration Reform 101 and Our Current Moment.” Bring table service and a dish to share.
On Saturday the 9 a.m. session will be “Tennessee Congressional Delegation and Immigration Reform: What Do We Know?” After the break the workshop will feature “Moving Forward: Understanding Our Opposition, Challenges and Opportunities” at 10:30 a.m. For more information, call Alysa at (937) 620-6637 or Don Smith at 277-5720.