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Begging for camera funds maybe like begging for artifacts

December 14, 2008
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

Hurray and hallelujah, it's soup.

That comes from the old commercial, "Is it soup yet?" but yes, it is. It's soup. We're done. We have enough money to buy a thermal imaging camera for the Vincent Volunteer Fire Department, thanks, of course, to the Vincent Lions, who donated proceeds from the annual chili and soup dinner to the fund.

And they went all out, it seems, making almost twice what they've done in other years. That's such a wonderful way for the community to help itself.

In this case, there was a little help from their friends, too, with donations of money, auction items and entertainment coming from West Bend, Laurens, Livermore, Pomeroy, Duncombe, Rolfe, Hardy, Boxholm and Fort Dodge. That's just what I know, and I may not know it all or may have forgotten a lot.

If I could scream my thanks, there'd be a thundering thank you rolling over the area right now. We cannot begin to thank you enough for all the help getting this done and being so generous when we came begging.

Being part of something big like that makes me wonder how someone can do such stuff day after day, year after year.

Maybe not the same exact stuff, but Maureen Harding - the former Maureen Hill, of Fort Dodge - has spent more than 30 years at the Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, starting as a photography technician in 1977 and being promoted to museum curator in the late 1980s. She spends most of her time staging exhibits, begging for borrowed artifacts from wherever she finds them.

It's a lot of work, but she's doing it well. On Dec. 4 she was honored at the "State of the Archives Address and Awards Ceremony" at the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Md., with an individual achievement award, one of eight to receive this honor out of more than 80 who got awards.

Harding, by the way, is the daughter of Joan and John Hill, of Fort Dodge, and wife of Jay Harding, who grew up in Eagle Grove. They have no children, but are the proud caretakers of Little Mo, a guinea pig. He - that's Jay, not Mo - is a psychologist working with children with behavioral problems through a grant from the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics.

The Hoover Museum opened in 1962. Since she took over as curator, Harding has put together three exhibits a year - a holiday exhibit, a winter exhibit that stays put for a couple months with subjects interesting to local and area people. And in April a large exhibit goes up and stays through fall. The current holiday exhibit, A Very Elvis Christmas, "is just a fun exhibit," Harding said. "So far, nobody has asked us what it has to do with Herbert Hoover."

From the beginning of an exhibit idea to opening can take anywhere from six months to a year, she said. "It's all temporary until maybe an hour or two before the exhibit opens. I send begging letters, please loan me your stuff."

See, she begs, too. She could be doing a fundraiser.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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