from the Nut Lady
October 22, 2002:
The Nut Lady wishes to thank her many fans for their kind words of support and encouragement which have been received over the past few months.
While my health is improving, there has been a dip in my finances, and in order to reenter my home my finances must be buoyed. All contributions, big or small, will be gratefully received.
I moved into my home in Old Lyme on October 31, 1950. I Hope to announce re-entry on that day in 2002. Will keep you posted. Thank you again, and have a very happy Halloween.
July 30, 2002:
I wish to express my deep thanks to all those who have shown interest in the Nut Lady in my hour of trial. It caused a tear to think that I have so many loyal fans requesting information about my whereabouts and well being.
In the beginning of May, I was found unconscious in my home (cause murky!) and rushed to the hospital. After two weeks of unconsciousness I opened my eyes -- having dodged death. To many it was a miracle. Since then, I have endured a most difficult experience that has taken various forms. Presently, I am laid up in a convalescent home just a nut's throw from my own house.
It is my understanding that my home, which houses the Nut Museum, has been put up for sale. I have also been told that I am now a ward of the State. I am fighting that position. Truth will get the floor eventually, not lies.
One bright spot outshining this otherwise gloomy, greedy scene is that my art, nut collections, and papers are being preserved and archived by Christopher Steiner, a professor of art history at Connecticut College. We are working together on a book and traveling exhibition that will establish the originality and legacy of the Nut Museum forever. Although these recent events have been trying, my artistic spirit has not been crushed. New ideas are being born, and my creativity is still kicking. Pray for me.
This next story, from the 1990s, was (in contrast) a happier time for Elizabeth....
When you visit the Nut Museum, ask Elizabeth about the latest intrigues of The Conspiracy. The forces of evil and entropy swirl around the Nut Mansion, but Elizabeth is a trooper. And the worst may have passed...
Roadside America noticed a stark contrast at the Nut Museum between visits in the mid-eighties and the early nineties. In 1985, the Nut Lady had hit a peak -- numerous appearances on national TV shows, her sculpture garden fully arrayed with nut art she had created during the previous ten years. In the bright sun, she cheerfully burst into song at each stop of the Stations of the Nut. Then the vandalism started...
We returned years later on a gray, drizzly Saturday, to find the museum "under seige." Many of the outdoor aluminum nut sculptures had been savaged by faceless vandals. And Ms.Tashjian was inexplicably getting the civic cold shoulder from a town that prefers to be known only for its diseased deer ticks. We banged on the heavy wooden door, and after the sound of bolts being thrown back, the door cracked and a familiar face peered from within.
The Nut Lady!
The Connecticut Department of Tourism had kept the Nut Museum out of their official guide since 1988, claiming that the house was infested with squirrels. "It was a fabrication," the Nut Lady says. "The state tourism bureau was bought out by some rich, local financiers who want my home. It's a plot."
Today, she says: "It's being made very difficult to exist here. All alone I'm holding out. I'm here as of today." Who's behind it? "It's the artists in the area. And their patrons. They exploited me, now they want to do away with me. There's a lot of rivalry and envy. It's coming from all directions."
Later, things improved for the Nut Museum, which was back on the roster of Connecticut must-sees, along with the Kerosene Lamp Museum and the Lock Museum. The Nut Lady is still in the national media, and the support of her many fans is heartening. She admits to the infamous squirrel invasion, now that the crisis is over. "I got a new roof. The squirrels grabbed enough to start a nut museum of their own now." Hang in there, Nut Lady!
© Copyright 1996-2012 Doug Kirby, Ken Smith, Mike Wilkins. All rights reserved. No portion of this document may be reproduced, copied or revised without written permission of the authors.