That was the week that was...
March 24, 2011 —
The “circle of life” was in full swing this week, as I augmented my schedule minute by minute. Sullivan County lost one of its local treasures on Wednesday, March 16th when Blanche Masters, the irascible, tenacious, one-of-a-kind pit bull (with a heart of gold) owner of Blanche’s Diner on Rt. 17B in Mongaup Valley passed away peacefully at home.
Affectionately dubbed “Mama” and famous for her pancakes far and wide, Blanche was revered throughout the Catskills as an icon, holding court at the register for 25 years. So it was no surprise that hundreds of people showed up at the United Methodist Church in White Sulphur Springs on Saturday to pay their respects to Blanche’s family.
The service, led by daughter-in-law Rev. Bridgette LeConey of Liberty, NY, was personal, touching and a fitting tribute to the Queen of the Catskills as traffic came to a standstill outside the church. LeConeys’ eulogy touched on the fact that, over the years, Blanche “was hostess to celebrities, statesmen, politicians... and maybe even a mobster or two” alongside the regulars who flocked to the diner for decades, knowing that she treated everyone equally, with a sharp tongue, an affectionate wink and as a member of the family.
As folks milled about after the service, memories and stories filled the air. Personally, I may hold the distinction of being one of the few that Blanche ever “treated” to breakfast. A few years ago, after schmoozing with the regulars and cleaning my plate, I made my way to the Queen herself, to pay the tab. Blanche gave me a sly look and said, “this one’s on me, honey.” You could have heard a pin drop as every head turned to see who was being honored in such a way, and I still don’t know what I did to be singled out, but will never forget it. I do know that Blanche touched thousands of lives during her reign and although off on a new adventure, will never be forgotten.
Celebrating Blanches’ life was (IMHO) entirely appropriate, and I headed off to the BrookHouse Gallery (brookhousegallery.com) in Barryville, NY to celebrate life in a different manner. The gallery presented NEON, “an art showing in support of the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA, artsalliancesite.org), showcasing the works of Tom Holmes, Janet Rutkowski, Walter Kenul, Kim Lust, Laurie Stuart and featuring the work of special guest, neon artist Rocky Pinciotti.