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Historical Figures Of Southampton ’Revealing’ Calendar Launch To Raise Funds For Halsey House Restoration

Originally Posted: September 28, 2009

Edward Callaghan

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Martha Belasis and "Miss April" Bonnie Grice of WLIU radio at the opening night event. Photos by John Wegorzewski

Southampton - A group of Hamptons ladies now known as the "Calendar Girls," doffed their clothes for the creation of a 'PG Rated' calendar to help raise funds for the restoration of the centuries old Halsey House. The glamorous result of their unabashed support for the Southampton Historical Museum's efforts to preserve and promote the history and culture of Southampton, "Historical Figures of Southampton," went on display at The Mark Humphrey Gallery on Friday, Sept. 25, and drew a packed house to the Main Street, Southampton gallery.

The "Calendar Girls" - Board Members past and present, museum volunteers, and several media figures - all long-time supporters of the Museum's efforts were out in full force for the unveiling of the sexy calendar and to sign copies for friends and collectors. Both rooms of the gallery were packed to overflowing with the ladies' families and close pals. Sherry Dobbin of The Watermill Center was surprised at the number of "husbands eagerly showing off their wives' provocative portraits."

The idea of creating the calendar was the brainchild of realtor Pamela Jackson Jones who not only serves on the Museum's Board of Trustees, she co-chairs The Museum Shop Committee, and is creator of The Museum's Southampton Antiques Fair. She had an "Aha" moment when she came across a copy of a calendar from England depicting a group of community women in various stages of undress who posed to help raise money for a local hospital.

Roberta Hunter ("Miss January") autographs a calendar for Village Trustee Bonnie Cannon.

Film buffs might remember the women of the Rylstone Women's Institute in North Yorkshire. This Women's Group produces a calendar each year based around scenes of the Yorkshire dales. In 1999, one of the ladies husbands became ill with leukemia. He said that if the ladies planted sunflowers, he'd make sure he'd get better so he could see them. Unfortunately, he didn't pull through and in order to raise funds for Leukemia research the women - all ladies of a certain age - decided to make an alternative calendar of them in the nude hoping to sell a few hundred copies around their villages. This calendar in fact became a worldwide sensation, out-selling even those of Britney Spears and Cindy Crawford.

Their story was captured on film by director Nigel Cole in his 2003 movie starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters. Just this weekend the English "Calendar Girls" were featured on CBS Morning News celebrating the 10th anniversary of their fundraising experience which has raised over $3 million dollars to date!

Thus inspired, Pamela shared her idea with fellow Board Members Suzanne Caldwell and Pamela Herrick Hare who were immediately enthused with the idea and the calendar project was born.

The ladies quickly set out to find the right photographer, one that would take them seriously and found him in acclaimed Water Mill fashion and lifestyle photographer Nick Mansfield, who has been shooting fashion, interiors and lifestyle in the Hamptons, New York and the Caribbean for over 15 years. His images have appeared in numerous publications including Town & Country, the New York Times, Elle, Conde Nast Traveler, W, Vogue, House Beautiful, and scores more.

Hair stylist Gerard Tourol and make-up artist Erin McNeill of Kevin Maple Salon on Jobs Lane signed on to create the individual looks for this disparate group of ladies ranging in age from mid 30s to early 70s. Gerard said, "They were all a little nervous at the beginning but as Erin and I worked with them they quickly relaxed and really got into it."

With the ladies lined up, hair and make-up in place, and the photographer set to make magic, the ladies were off and running. One glitch occurred when Mansfield broke his leg and didn't even realize it until the third day of shooting. In the end, the results, all shot on the grounds of The Museum's properties, are glorious with all the women actually glowing in the images.

Maribeth Edmonds gets coy showing her calendar debut.

Seventy-two year old ("and proud of it") Board Member Sheila Guidera remembers not even telling her husband as she was not sure how it would turn out but after the ministrations of the Kevin Maple team and her shoot, she went home to her husband who asked, "Where have you been?" not even looking up from his crossword puzzle. When she replied she had her picture taken at The Museum he absentmindedly said, "Oh that's nice." Finally, she said, "Look at me - I'm gorgeous." When he looked up she said, "I wowed him."

Like Sheila's husband, Bob Skinner, married to Board Member Elizabeth Skinner, was so taken with his wife's portrait in the all together on a sofa in the Rogers Mansion he immediately bought 20 copies of the calendar for "Christmas gifts" he smiled and winked.

Laid out in traditional pin-up girl style but done in soft black and white, the photographs are slightly naughty but extremely tasteful. The one thing they have in common despite the ages, weight, and figures is that all the ladies look beautiful. From the cover photo of an elegant tea party gone wild featuring former Board Member Paula Margolin; attorney, activist, and member of the Shinnecock Nation Roberta Hunter; and Southampton Press photo editor Dana Shaw to the after-glow of Brenda Simmons pictured languorously in bed in Captain Rogers' bedroom, the photos are all suggestive but tasteful. Simmons who serves as Curator of the East End African-American Museum and Center for Excellence, as well as assistant to Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley, blushed when showing her picture but was thrilled with the final result, as were all the ladies present.

Maribeth Edmonds, "the long suffering wife of The Museum's executive director" Tom Edmonds, playfully announced to all, "I'm Miss June - the June Bug. I enjoy picnics on the front lawn wearing nothing but a tablecloth." And she did as the photo testifies. Pamela Jackson Jones and Deborah Herrick Hare are the two naked ladies gossiping behind the privet; WLIU's Bonnie Grice wearing nothing but an almost see-through apron is caught ironing; Suzanne Caldwell clasping a sheet to her breast is pictured gazing out to sea while Hillary Herrick Woodward frolics naked but for a parasol in the grass at Conscience Point ready for a little skinny dipping! Bonnie Grice confessed that posing nude was "on my bucket list."

There's more - attorney and Board MemberJulia Vance Carter posed nude with a dress form; Tish Rehill, owner of Gardeneering, one of Southampton's largest landscaping companies who decks out the Rogers Mansion every holiday season wields nothing but her pearls while arranging flowers; and Linda Stabler-Talty is seen behind the general store counter with bushels of apples and, like Eve, wearing nothing else!

Tom Edmonds, The Museum's Executive Director was "totally delighted" with the response to this unusual fundraising effort but is hoping it will go a long way to help restore the Halsey House and the Sayre Barn, both are which are in desperate need of restoration. The "Historic Figures of Southampton Calendar" can be purchased at The Museum's Shop at the Rogers Mansion, 17 Meeting House Lane Southampton and sells for $14.95. For more information, visit www.southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org.

Now known as "Miss February," Brenda Simmons blushes as she proudly shows a calendar page.


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Guest (Patricia McArdle) from Islip, NY says::
I was thrilled to see that Hildreths had the calendars there. I pciked one up and next week when the ladies are there signing them, I'll get a couple more. They'll make great Christmas & holiday gifts!
Oct 10, 2009 11:07 pm


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