Wendell Post front pages line meetinghouse for exhibit

A copy of the Wendell Post, a volunteer-driven newspaper published from 1977 and 2001.

A copy of the Wendell Post, a volunteer-driven newspaper published from 1977 and 2001. COURTESY IMAGE/ROBERT S. COX SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES RESEARCH CENTER, UMASS AMHERST LIBRARIES

A copy of the Wendell Post, a volunteer-driven newspaper published from 1977 and 2001.

A copy of the Wendell Post, a volunteer-driven newspaper published from 1977 and 2001. COURTESY IMAGE/ROBERT S. COX SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES RESEARCH CENTER, UMASS AMHERST LIBRARIES

A copy of the Wendell Post, a volunteer-driven newspaper published from 1977 and 2001.

A copy of the Wendell Post, a volunteer-driven newspaper published from 1977 and 2001. COURTESY IMAGE/ROBERT S. COX SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES RESEARCH CENTER, UMASS AMHERST LIBRARIES

A copy of the Wendell Post, a volunteer-driven newspaper published from 1977 and 2001.

A copy of the Wendell Post, a volunteer-driven newspaper published from 1977 and 2001. COURTESY IMAGE/ROBERT S. COX SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AND UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES RESEARCH CENTER, UMASS AMHERST LIBRARIES

Enlarged copies of the Wendell Post, a volunteer-driven newspaper published from 1977 and 2001, are on display at the Wendell Meetinghouse.

Enlarged copies of the Wendell Post, a volunteer-driven newspaper published from 1977 and 2001, are on display at the Wendell Meetinghouse. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Jerry Barilla, a Friends of the Wendell Meetinghouse volunteer and former board member, and current member Debbie Lynangale view enlarged copies of the Wendell Post that are on display at the Wendell Meetinghouse.

Jerry Barilla, a Friends of the Wendell Meetinghouse volunteer and former board member, and current member Debbie Lynangale view enlarged copies of the Wendell Post that are on display at the Wendell Meetinghouse. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Friends of the Wendell Meetinghouse board member Debbie Lynangale labels enlarged copies of the Wendell Post that are on display at the Wendell Meetinghouse.

Friends of the Wendell Meetinghouse board member Debbie Lynangale labels enlarged copies of the Wendell Post that are on display at the Wendell Meetinghouse. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

The Wendell Meetinghouse in Wendell Center.

The Wendell Meetinghouse in Wendell Center. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Enlarged copies of the Wendell Post, a volunteer-driven newspaper published from 1977 and 2001, are on display at the Wendell Meetinghouse.

Enlarged copies of the Wendell Post, a volunteer-driven newspaper published from 1977 and 2001, are on display at the Wendell Meetinghouse. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 01-24-2024 4:17 PM

WENDELL — A reception set for Friday afternoon will mark the beginning of a Wendell Meetinghouse exhibit featuring 40 enlarged front pages of the Wendell Post, a volunteer-driven newspaper published from 1977 and 2001.

The event, which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., will include a panel of Wendell Post artists and contributors who will be swapping stories and memories of the publication’s production and impact. Wendell Post front pages included original art and articles about events, personalities and issues from across the region.

“It’s looking really good. I just got back from over there,” Court Dorsey, president of the Friends of the Wendell Meetinghouse, said by phone from his home on Monday. “We’re going to have the corresponding papers ... in case anybody gets hooked by the front-page articles and wants to finish it out.”

The exhibit is the brainchild of Jerry Barilla, a Friends of the Wendell Meetinghouse volunteer and former board member who curated the collection with support from other volunteers. Barilla said he was inspired by “the beauty of the hand-drawn art” that accompanied the newspaper’s masthead on virtually every edition.

“We’re excited about it. It looks great,” Barilla said of the exhibit. “It’ll be there for a while.”

Barilla explained there are 40 enlarged front pages, each spanning 2 feet wide by 3 feet tall. Sound panels around the meetinghouse serve as frames for the front pages.

Having moved to town the year before the Wendell Post started publishing, Barilla remembers the newspaper well. It started as a monthly, though publication became less and less frequent as the years went on. Barilla said there were at least 100 issues printed.

“I think their mission was to talk about good things happening in town,” he said.

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Barilla has been assisted by his wife, Beth Erviti, who is fascinated by the history the old newspapers preserve.

“The Wendell Post spans … four decades of citizen volunteer work to talk about positive stories generated by our town. It’s just beautiful,” she said. “The art is very special. The front page of the Post … most of the time had hand-drawn artwork. It’s just really gorgeous.”

Erviti said this exhibit can help educate newer residents about their small town’s past.

“They don’t really now a lot of the history of Wendell,” she said. “Maybe this will help bring together some of the past and the present. Can’t hurt.”

Anne Diemand Bucci and Jonathan von Ranson, two of the former newspaper’s main organizers, are expected to be at Friday’s reception. Diemand Bucci said she got involved when someone stopped by her family’s farm and asked if she was interested in participating in the new idea. She said she was intrigued because it offered a way for residents to learn about local goings-on without relying on the so-called rumor mill.

“They wanted to have it be more factual,” she said. “I thought, ‘Hey, this is kind of a cool idea.’”

Diemand Bucci said she started distributing the newspaper and eventually “did just about every single job,” ranging from writing to coordinating advertising. Organizers would meet at least once a month to decide on the topics to print. Articles would be solicited throughout the community and dropped off at the newspaper’s post office box, at Diemand Farm or at the Wendell Country Store. The text, Diemand Bucci explained, was transcribed by three or four typists who worked on a rotating basis.

“Sometimes we really would work all night long, putting the paper together,” she recounted.

The Wendell Post was printed at Highland Press in Athol, Diemand Bucci said.

She mentioned the monthly publication eventually became a seasonal one and it went defunct in 2001 after whittling down to a skeleton crew.

“It was really fun, for a long time,” she said. “[The exhibit] definitely makes me smile.”

Friday’s reception is free to attend, with donations encouraged. It is funded in part by a grant from the Wendell Cultural Council.

For more information on the exhibit, contact Dorsey at courtcdorsey@gmail.com.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.