Died: August 4, 1968
She was born in the lumbering town of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the youngest child of Scotch Irish immigrant Hugh McMaster, and Phylena Gray, a Maine frontierswoman. When she was about 16 they moved to Washington, D.C. After her father suffered a stroke they moved to Dayton, Ohio and then Chicago, where she went to art school.
After her recovery from tuberculosis, the death of her father, and marriage to Dr. Blanchet she moved to 27 Church Street (now 49 Church Street). In the first years much of her time was spent taking care of her invalid mother. She also worked both in the Workshop and also at the Craft Guild. She apparently created the harlequin girl logo for an early Winter Carnival sometime in about 1913. Another of her possible works is an artist's watercolor sketch in brilliant orange and blue, unsigned, of a lady bug, c. 1917. Mildred was a talented painter and she worked in a variety of mediums from watercolors, bas relief, pencil and oils to painting furniture.
After her husband Sidney’s death she went to work and live at the Trudeau Sanatorium with her youngest son Jeremy as an occupational therapist in the crafts program. She encouraged people to use their leisure to do things with their hands. She got men knitting. She made designs for hooked rugs and did crewel work or hand embroidery. She was one of the judges for a Craft Guild art contest in September 1941.1
Her art was often inspired by Saranac Lake: fawns, rhododendrons, pine trees and woodsy bouquets. She also loved art nouveau and oriental imagery.
Mrs. Blanchet also used to do poems and portraits of some of the doctors. Her granddaughter thinks she continued living in Saranac until about 1944 when she married John J. Connors. She and John moved to Albany, New York, then to Coconut Grove, Florida, and retired at the Elizabeth Carleton House in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Her work at the retirement home was similar to what she had done at the Saranac Lake Study and Craft Guild - organizing craft activities.
"Repressions" -- a set of limericks about the doctors
From an undated handwritten manuscript by Mildred McMaster Blanchet, provided by her granddaughter, Shelby Hines. Her understanding is that these limericks were done for a dinner party, and the poem for each doctor was accompanied by Millie’s artwork. Shelby has only the finished art and limerick for Dr. Sidney Blanchet. The illustration is pictured below.
In these days of deep investigation,
In the psychologic field,
We’ve heard of much to bother us,
Our brains have fairly reeled.
With talk of inhibitions
And repressions dark and deep.
To say nothing of complexes
That tie us hand and feet.
These gentlemen named Jung and Freud
Have got us worried, quite
It’s up to us to check them up
If only out of spite.
So, in this august company
Of scholars wise and learned
Let’s try them out to see,
If there’s experiments to be confirmed.
If deep in our unconscious
There burn some smouldering1 fires,
Some dreadful guilty longings,
Or ungratified desires,
Now is the hour to search them out
And look them in the eyes
And so rob them forever
Of the power to make us writhe.
We’ll turn our cardboard over
To find a brief suggestion
To help us in our search for Truth
And our particulars repression
When it we find, lets bring it forth
Most gallant o courageous
And trust our friends to keep it dark
No matter how outrageous!
Let “Cheerful Charlie” start us off!
We know him for a mixer
Good fellowship, sports, all things gay
A very nifty fixer.
What’s underneath this exterior?
To guess we’re at a loss.
We wonder what you really long to be –
Now Charlie, come across! –
We call you “Cautious Hughie,”
And affectionately claim
You’d never do a reckless deed,
Nor give us cause for shame.
Now here’s your chance to show us up,
And for your stainless past atone,
By confessing to a mad desire to
Play the saxophone!
A merry soul is Francis here,
With manner all robustious
A ready smile and friendly cheer
And laughter quite combustious
Is a repression lurking here?
We’ve got to have a showdown
It’s up to you to make things clear,
Come Francis, what’s the lowdown?
So grave and stern your manner,
Is shown in all your mien,
But underneath we see
A glimpse of hardy buccaneer
Or pirate fierce, perchance.
Oh tell us of this knave in you
A-fighting for romance!
Oh Harry, Handsome Harry,
Why let an unkind fate
Make you a lonely bachelor,
Imprisoned by the state?
P’raps a wicked nurse told you in childhood
Of the moth’s encounter with the flame.
But never even hinted that
He liked it just the same!
Your head in books is buried –
Thoughts are most profound.
But we wonder what is happening
Down deep in buried ground.
Are you longing to play hookey,
And hunt or fish or browse,
Or would you rather just
Bust loose and then carouse?
Your gentle personality,
With qualities so winning,
Would not be harmed a single bit,
By just a little sinning –
If you’d have a fling at high finance,
And a bootlegging go,
It’s quite all right with us, dear Ned,
The world will never know! –
With dignity you face the world,
And hold a bit aloof,
We’d like to burrow under here,
We yearn to know the truth:
A dashing cavalier we spy,
His rapier a-polishing
With lusty oath and fiery eye,
His enemy demolishing!
At home, abroad, your knowledge
Has won us great renown,
But just this once Oh Lawrie,
Let your bars discreetly down!
We’d gladly hear a juicy bit,
And treasure longings ghoulish –
Please humor us a bit,
And dig up something foolish!
Has work for sick humanity,
That fills your life with joy
Displaced the secret yearnings
You dreamed of as a boy?
Is a tight grip on that old pipe
Still necessary quite,
To keep the jester and the clown
From coming into sight?
We know you know your onions,
A bonny charming bird
An easy gracious manner,
And ‘sex appeal’ – my word!
But Woodsie, have a heart
And justify the rhyme –
So fastidious a gentleman,
Should harbour gorgeous crime!
When Sid’s abroad and on the job,
A-peddling of his gas1
He seems a steady British lad,
But oh alack, alas!
When once the ‘French2’ in him is roused
And gets a taste of blood
The Johnny Bull is clean submerged
In devastating flood! –
1) Mildred is generally using British or Canadian spelling rather than American spelling (e.g. smouldering; harbour, hookey)
2) Perhaps a reference to Dr. Blanchet’s lex pnuemothorax tuberculosis treatment?
3) Dr. Blanchet was Canadian; his father was French speaking, and his mother was English speaking.
1. Ticonderoga Sentinel, September 4, 1941