Benson’s Old Lady in the Shoe Gets Transformed
November 16, 2018
by David S. Morin
The Old Lady in the Shoe display, one of the most visited spots in Benson Park by children, received a facelift after several years of deterioration. Early in the summer Holly Klump came before the Benson Park Committee with a plan to bring the shoe structure back to its original state.
Holly and her family had visited Benson’s early in the summer, and, when she looked inside the shoe, she noticed the poor condition of the display items and the conditions of the building itself. When growing up in New Jersey, Holly often visited a nearby theme park that also had an Old Lady in a Shoe display. Her interest in repairing Hudson’s shoe first was due to nostalgia from her childhood memories and that the display was in need of some love.
Over the summer, Klump, family members, friends and her husband, Nate, a carpenter, cleaned out the shoe only to find the damage was much worse than they had expected. Damage caused by mice, chipmunks and squirrels that had entered the shoe as well as the effects of weather and time took their toll. The work ahead of them was not at all a deterrent. Over the summer, Holly spent a lot of time combing area flea markets and looking online for items that would bring life to the display. An old-fashioned iron wood stove and many of the period items to bring the rhyme to life were purchased and added to the interior of the shoe.
She asked friends and family to help; they provided labor, leftover paint they had in their basements, and, most importantly, support. She dragged her husband into the project and, with his carpentry skills, he made the necessary repairs to the building. Nate installed a new hardwood floor, painted and added a wood stove that looks as if it was in operation. He also repaired the animal damage and secured the building to keep the critters out.
One final and most important detail was still needed and Holly, not an artist, searched for someone to help her with the Old Lady. A co-worker recommended Kristina Hickman, an artist out of Milford. When Holly contacted Kristina and explained what she was doing and what she needed, Kristina was excited to help and, using wood cut in the shape of the Old Lady, Hickman went to work with her paints to bring the Old Lady to life.
In early November, the last touches were completed and the shoe was back for the visitors of the park to enjoy. Holly said she was grateful for all the assistance from family and friends and Kristina’s artistic talents. With her busy family life she wanted to give back to the community, and this was the perfect project to do just that.