Painting the new picket fence at the old Dutch Reformed Church in Newburgh
last Saturday was billed as a "Tom Sawyer" party, and that's
just how it happened.
The unpainted fence had been erected last October, after the City completed
repairs to the foundation wall and the drainage system of the former Church
a National Historic Monument that the Newburgh Preservation Association
wants to see restored and adapted for re-use.
When volunteers gathered at the church to start painting, something happened
straight out of the pages of Mark Twain's classic story. Henry Martinez,
also known as "Mad Dog," was on his way to the Hudson River
with an impressive array of fishing poles, nets, and bait. "What
are you guys doing?" he asked.
Peter Billman, coordinator of the event, said "We're going to have
some fun painting this fence. Want to join us?" Martinez set aside
his fishing gear and pitched in, staying with the effort until the project
Others came, too, including Tom Hughes, director of a Washington's Headquarters,
and Elizabeth McKean, the City's archivist.
Carlos Vasquez, age 12, stopped on his bike to ask if the group would
let him paint. Receiving a positive answer, he rode his bike home, came
back, and took up the brush until the entire fence was painted.
When the work was completed, everyone felt a great sense of accomplishment.
The only problem, several painters agreed, is that the freshly painted
fence makes the church look that much worse in its present condition.