On September 14, 2010, Glenn Rudderow gave the following speech at the Winfield's fundraiser for Citizens United:
When I was thinking about what I wanted to say tonight, I realized that what I really wanted to do, was just talk about how I feel about the East Point Light House, the Maurice River and Citizens United, and how they are all connected and relate to each other.
We can all probably agree that the East Point Lighthouse is a symbol for South Jersey, as well as an icon. And that the same could be said for the Maurice River. We would probably also agree that the East Point Lighthouse is a guardian for the river and the bay, and for all of those people whose lives and livelihoods have depended, and depend, on the river and bay.
I would like to talk about some of my memories of the Maurice River and the East Point Lighthouse.
When I was seven or eight years old, my oldest brother got his driver’s permit, and on Sunday afternoons the five of us kids would pile into the family car, a 1955 plymouth station wagon, if you remember, the kind with the really huge fins in the back. When cars were cars. We children always felt especially lucky because our car had rust holes in the floor, which allowed us to see the road as we passed over it.
At any rate, my brother would drive us, leaving Newport, down to Dividing Creek, over to Haleyville and Mauricetown. And of course, the Maurice River, and the Mauricetown Bridge. The real Mauricetown Bridge. We were all so excited to see the bridge and especially in crossing it, to hear the clackety, clack, clack our tires made as we crossed the wooden planks of the bridge. It was also always exciting, if when we got to it, the bridge would be open, allowing an oyster boat to go upriver or down. To see that structure moving in its arc on its pivots as it opened or closed was thrilling.
After crossing, of course coming to the Delsea Drive, turning south, following the road as it paralleled the river and coming to the Delaware Bay. I still remember the excitement and anticipation I always felt when on crossing the marshes, we would make that last turn and see the lighthouse across the meadows. Standing majestic against the horizon and bay. I still have the same feeling of excitement and anticipation, some fifty years later, on first seeing the lighthouse across the marshes.
In those days the lighthouse was painted a creamy white, with the roof and tower a brilliant red. This is still the way I see the lighthouse in my mind, even today.
This brings back so many memories of all the times spent there and along the Maurice River.
Painting trips with Morris Blackburn, a teacher from the Pennsylvania Academy, who taught his landscape painting classes along the river, at the various boat yards, and at the lighthouse for many years.
Painting there with Pat Witt, when we would paint and watch the sunset across the bay, and wait for the full moon rise across the marshes. Pat and I would have our picnic suppers and listen to the waves and seagulls as we ate and talked.
All of the times painting there with Louis Sloan and his students from the Pennsylvania Academy. When we would help him look for the prickly pear cactus that grew wild along the road as you approached East Point.
And how can I forget watching the turtles climbing up the beach, through the sand, to lay their eggs, and then a few weeks later, the newly hatched babies, no bigger than a nickel, making a mad dash for the bay and the safety of the water.
These memories bring me to the painting that is on auction tonight. This painting is titled, “Autumnal Equinox, East Point Light.”
As we know the autumnal equinox is just over a week from tonight, when the length of the day equals the length of the night.
On this particular evening I was fortunate to be able to witness the wonderment of the setting sun in the west, and the full moon rising, directly opposite, in the east, with the lighthouse and me in the middle. Anyone familiar with Stonehenge would appreciate this. I will never forget seeing and feeling the warmth of the setting sun on the western wall of the lighthouse and looking further, seeing the full moon rise in the east. This is what this painting is all about, a very real, special, and magical moment.
Now, some of you might be wondering, why is he telling us all of this, and what does it have to do with Citizens United.
Well, I’m taking the long way around, something I’m fond of doing. For instance, going to my studio in the morning. My studio is two tenths of a mile from our house, and yet most mornings it is a ten mile or more, drive to get there. That’s because it involves a trip to the bay to make sure the tides are still coming in and going out.
So here we are. We have the East Point Lighthouse, the Maurice River, and Citizens United. Symbols, icons, and guardians.
When I think of the East Point Lighthouse, I think of those people that a hundred and fifty years ago, give or take, envisioned, built and commissioned this lighthouse. And I think that these people did a good thing. That these people did a right thing.
I think of the thousands and thousands of people that this lighthouse has shown the right direction.
The countless number of tired travelers that it has shown a safe place to rest.
And I think of the hundreds upon hundreds of oystermen, fishermen, watermen, hunters, trappers, crabbers, and in fact, all of those that have earned, and earn, their livelihood on the Maurice River and the Delaware Bay, along the Bayshore and in South Jersey. That this lighthouse is a guardian, a watch, and a companion, to all of them.
What an incredible analogy, the East Point Lighthouse and Citizens United, linked together by the Maurice River.
When I think of Citizens United, I think of the many projects and programs they are involved with; actively promoting or participating in; whether it’s the protection of our birds and wildlife, the environment or sensitive fragile lands and waterways; whether it’s the participation in state and national programs to educate and inform all of us about our environment; or even the support and promotion of film projects featuring local artists.
Citizens United always seeks to give us a good direction.
Citizens United always seeks to give us a safe place to rest.
And it always seeks to watch over our best interests.
Because here we have an organization that is, of course, a guardian of the Maurice River and its tributaries, and is, of course, a guardian of the Delaware Bay and Bayshore, and South Jersey, but much more importantly it is a guardian for all of us, and for all of our futures.
I think how wonderful it will be when in a hundred and fifty years from now, give or take, people will look back at tonight, and look back at us, and look at Citizens United, and say, “These people were and are our guardians. They did a good thing. They did a right thing.”
In conclusion, let me say, Thank you, to all of you for listening. And thank you to Citizens United for being a light.
September 14, 2010 Glenn Rudderow
We received this email after the 2010 Purple Martin festival:
My husband and I went on the Purple Martin Bodacious boat trip Friday night and what an AWESOME night!! We’ve gone before but this time we met Alan Jackson and “got informed.”
The boat was full for Saturday night but my husband charmed Linda just enough to get him and our granddaughter back on for Saturday’s trip. Isabella (10 yrs old) thought that that was the greatest sight she’d ever seen and wants to go every year!!
Trustee emeritus Joanne Murphine sent this letter upon her retirement from the board:
To the CU Members,
Thank you so much for the beautiful painting by Verna McClain and the garden arrangement by Bob Schwartz. The gifts were very much appreciated and really a surprise.
I enjoyed being on the board of CU for many years. I have met and worked with many people who I am proud to call my friends.
Our organization has done many things to educate and guide people to help preserve our environment. I know this will continue with our new leadership.
P.S. I will always try to help when needed.