Alison Johnson Memoir - "The Eleventh Hour Can’t Last Forever"

Reader Comments

Letter from Terry L. H. Slade

I received your book and devoured it in a few days.

It brought back so many memories of my childhood growing up in Palisade, things I thought I had forgotten. I always have felt that the Krotter’s and our family, particularly your mother and father were very intertwined.

As I am sure you know, my dad worked for your father the majority of his working life. We moved to Imperial when I was three, then we moved to Palisade when I was 7, where dad ran the hardware store until our move to Benkelman when the store closed (1967?) and then back to Imperial the last years before his retirement. I won’t bore you with too many stories of my childhood and life, but I did want to tell you something about your mother you may not know.

When I was young, your mother took an interest in me relating to my artistic "talent",as an academic I normally don’t use that word but it seems to fit for this description. I worked for her in the garden tiding up the "rock garden" and other household chores. At one point she attempted to give me voice lessons but my lack of experience outside of Palisade got in the way of that, although those breathing exercises helped me to be able to play the French horn via circular breathing and it still comes in handy when I am working in the hot glass studio blowing glass.

When I was 13 or 14, can’t remember exactly, I was suddenly able to attend the McCook Concert Series. It was many years later that I was told by my mother that your mother bought me a yearly membership for several years while I was in high school. I was flabbergasted when my mother told me this, but it made perfect sense when I thought about it. Mom and Dad would take me to the auditorium and drop me off and pick me up when the events were over. I did ask them once why they didn’t come with me and mom told me they weren’t interested. I realized later that wasn’t the reason at all, of course; they couldn’t afford to go. I saw classical guitarists, symphonic orchestras, operatic presentations, choral groups, string ensembles and many other performances which opened my eyes to a different world.

That single series of events changed my life, and I have no doubt those concerts had a part in making me the person I am today. The experience made me very aware of the outside world, in particular the art world, and that knowledge gave me the confidence to leave Palisade and pursue my education and my dream of becoming an artist.

Well, here I am forty years later. I went to undergraduate school at the University of Nebraska and finished my graduate degree in art with a concentration in sculpture from Washington University, in St. Louis. After two years teaching at Florida State, I moved to Oneonta NY, to teach sculpture at Hartwick College, where I met my wife, an art historian and artist from England. I have been here since 1983. I have had numerous exhibitions of my work in the States including solo shows in New York City and other major cities and exhibitions in England, France, Italy and Japan. Not bad for the boy from Palisade.

I am not telling you this to impress you with my accomplishments, I am telling you this because in my heart I know your mother was instrumental in my early life and since she is not around to thank, I would like to thank you.

By the way, my mom died just over a year ago, but my dad is still alive at 95, amazing. Although, your dad drove my dad crazy sometimes, my dad had the greatest respect and admiration for Dean and still does to this day. I always thought they had a very interesting relationship of mutual respect.

Below is my web site address. I haven’t updated it in a couple of years, but there is more on this than anyone would want to know about me and my work.

Thanks for writing the book.

Very best wishes,


Terry L. H. Slade
Co-Chair Department of Art and Art History
Professor of Art and Sculptor in Residence
Hartwick College
Oneonta, NY 13820

Comments from Colleen Carter Dame

Colleen Carter Dame started Palisade High School in 1930 at the age of 12 and graduated in 1934, when she was 16. She had my mother as her high school English teacher for two years before Mom married Dad in 1932. Colleen told me in a phone conversation about her memories of Mom. Colleen is now 91 and going strong. She returned to Imperial to live a few years ago because the youngest of her nine siblings, Shirley Carter Fanning, lives there and wanted to have Colleen nearby. Incidentally, when Shirley graduated from Palisade High School, the superintendent announced that all ten of the Carter children had graduated from Palisade High School, which was a record.

I wrote up what Colleen said from my notes of our phone conversation and have read this to her for her final approval.

Colleen's memories:

After I graduated from Palisade High School, I received a scholarship to Kearney, where I got my college degree in 1938. I majored in math, with minors in English and commercial studies. I was disappointed when I graduated to find that no school system wanted to hire a woman to teach math. They thought that math was a subject men should be teaching, so I spent most of my teaching career teaching English, typing, and shorthand. I ran into a glass ceiling before the term had even been coined.

My teaching was interrupted in 1941 when my mother died. I quit teaching and came home to help Dad because my youngest sibling, Shirley, was only 11. I was offered a teaching job at Beverly, but Dad was horrified when I said I was going to take the job because that school had run out three teachers the year before. As it turned out, I had a successful year at Beverly, and they offered to double my salary if I would stay. I got married that June, however, and they wouldn’t hire a married woman as a teacher. Incidentally, Palisade people might be interested to know that Jack Abbuhl was one of my students.

I loved your mother. My brother Keith and I both just loved her. I remember Keith saying that she was the best teacher he ever had. I suppose she was kind of an idol to most of us girls; she was so pretty and wore pretty clothes. She was a very popular teacher.

I won a local declamatory contest but wasn’t able to go on to the next stage because it meant a trip to Hastings. Your mom said, "We will go," and she got Dean to take us to McCook to catch the train. I remember thinking that your father wasn’t nearly as fun-loving and cheerful as your mom. Even though I was just a child, I thought that she was so special and they didn’t seem like a good match.

Your mom was always cheerful and happy; she was always an inspiration, very good a nd very patient as a teacher. She was just wonderful–one of those people that make you feel warm just thinking about her. I always hoped I could be like her.

We all adored your mother; she was just a lovely, lovely lady. She came back for a class get-together in McCook in 1976 or 1977, and Keith and I were there. She was so pleased to see us. I had returned from Deming, New Mexico, for t he reunion.

My baby brother, Lee Carter, occasionally had your mother as a substitute teacher when he was in high school in the early 1940s. He remembers delivering groceries from Charlie Enders’s grocery store to your house outside town and she would always have him sit down with her for a few minutes to chat. He says he thought she was just the loveliest woman.