Workshop on Wheels

Art Changed Our Lives

By Kitty Campbell Widner

Photos Courtesy of Kitty Campbell Widner

In the 1950s in McCall, my friends and I were quintessential housewives, but none of us was the pathetic character sometimes portrayed in the media. Our husbands were kind, hardworking veterans of World War II, members of the “Greatest Generation,” as television newsman Tom Brokaw graciously labeled us.

After five years of war and privation, we were all happy to work at putting our country back together, helping it to progress. When the 1960s rolled around, we were neither members of the hippie movement nor burned our bras, but we always supported the women’s movement. We were avid readers of the paper, listened to the news, and belonged to a book discussion group, in which we explored deep subjects.

Even so, four of us among our friends felt the need for more creativity in our lives—specifically, the need to paint. I learned of a University of Idaho art history class to be taught in McCall by Mary Louise Whetstone during the winter of 1958, and our foursome attended: myself, my sister Lomie Helmich, Louise Everett, and Ruth Hamell. Mary Louise was an excellent teacher, sensitive to our needs, and her class made the long winter much brighter.

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