small Judy Bolton collage

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One Hundred Years of Marking Time

Weekend Vistas, Friday May 19, 1978
By Jean Jernigan

She came from a family who "just collected stuff."

"They collected spools, calendars, they just collected things," said Margaret Sutton Hunting of Berkeley. Ms.Sutton might be called the "calendar lady," because she has collected more than 100, and even has a calendar dating back to 1878, and a few that predate that year.

"I didn't reallly think about collecting calendars until the 1940's. Then i realized I had so many I might as well get one for every year," she recalled.

Some of Ms. Hunting's calendars were passed down to her from a grandmother, aunts and great aunts, grandmother, and mnother. Others are gifts from, friends and relatives aware of her interest In calendars, and some Ms. Hunting has found in antique shops.

All of Ms. Hunting's calendars have some point of uniqueness or beauty, In addition to the antiquity of the early ones. Others are special for personal reasons. For example she treasures a small diary calendar for 1919 in which she made the long-ago entry that her Engljsh teacher was coming to dinner. "I could think of nothing more wonderful than having my English teacher to dinner on my 16th birthday," she said.

Another diary calendar that is special to Ms. Hunting is the one for 1924 which has the entry "wedding day." Nee Margaret Beebe, she was married to William Sutton in 1924 and widowed in 1965.

Two other calendars special to Ms. Hunting are one from her sister, 1922, with a handpainted house on it, and one from her son, 1939, hand drawn in nursery school.

Perhaps the most viewable for an impersonal viewer is her calendar for 1899 bearing an advertisement for John Rose & Co., Tea Importers and Dealers, London. This is done in color, and has much activity, including a dog, a cat, a horse, mother and baby.

One of Ms. Hunting's treasured calendars is for 1909, and has a small bird that opens, similar to the way a heart on a valentine unfolds with tissue paper. A perfect kitten adorns the calendar for 1921, Forget-me-nots make 1912 memorable, and 1950 has a Blue bird.

Most unusual is a calendar shaped like a wishbone for 1908, and there is a "perfume" calendar for 1890. "The Youth Companion" put out postcard calendars as early as 1879.

Ms. Hunting has calendars on collector plates, and towel calendars that she believes were first manufactured in the 1950's. Generations who grew up prior to World War 11 will feel a tug of nostalgia viewing a 1941 calendar of Chessie, bearing the old pullman motto, "Sleep Like a Kitten."

All the girls on the antique calendars have a porcelain doll-type beauty. Old advertisements such as "Wrigley's P.K." 1923 add interest to many of Ms. Hunting's calendars. She has a plate map for 1915, the year of the Panama Treaty, which she says, "we were rooting for."

In some years the days and dates match the days and dates of 1978 and Ms. Hunting has them all. The years are: 1882, 1899, 1905, 1911, 1922, 1933, 1939, 1950, 1961, and 1967. The next year this will occur is 1989.

As far as she knows, Ms. Hunting is the only person collecting calendars. She would like to know of other collectors with a view of making some trades.

"I have calendars for each year of the past 100, but some are prints, not originals. Some that I have are small and I would like larger ones, or prettier ones. The years I would like to have are 1902, 1892, 1897, and 1878," Ms. Hunting said.

Ms. Hunting has offered to display her calendars for groups, and also gives talks about them. Anyone with a calendar to trade, or who is interested in having Ms. Hunting talk to a group, may call her at 524-3286.

Why does she collect calendars? "The whole concept of time is interesting," she said. "There Is something about time, each year has something in it like 'remember the time we went, or the time we did this or that, or this or that happened?' There are good years and bad years, but all.have something.

"During my widowhood I had my calendars to remind me, that time is the great healer."

A favorite calendar that Ms. Hunting has is a postcard calendar for 1877, which came to her from her great grandmother's pioneer home in Pennsylvania.

The face of the card has a picture of wooden spool people. Ms. Hunting said that seeing that picture as a child, led her to making little spool people and making up stories about them, which later became the beginnings of the characters in the more than 60 books she has written over the years.

If the name Margaret Sutton Hunting seems hauntingly familiar, it should. Ms. Hunting was married in 1975 to Everett Hunting, but prior to that she wrote prolifically under her name, Margaret Sutton.

She is the author of the Judy Bolton mystery series, 38 volumes, beginning in 1932 and published by Grosset and Dunlap. They sold more than four million copies but unfortunately they are now out of print.

Her other writing include, numerous novels, true stories, texts and adaptations. Most of her books are now out of print, but still available is the Palace Wagon Family, published by Alfred Knopf.

Currently Ms. Hunting is writing the curriculum for, her church school class of kindergarteners at the First Unitarian Church in Kensington.

Called "Letters to Live By," the curriculum includes a story for each letter of the alphabet. Many of the stories are based on questions that children have asked.

Ms. Hunting is a School Resource Volunteer for the Berkeley Unified School District and a member of the California Writers Association, National Book Association, Authors League, and way back In 1923 she became a member of the Printer's Union.

A bride of nearly three years now, at 75 Ms. Hunting is busier than most housewives with a career, children, and grandchildren. Speaking of her second marriage, she said, "Two lonesome people add up to one happy couple." Both Huntings agree it is never too late for romance and look forward to being on a honeymoon for the rest of their lives

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