Central Park Bench Dedication-
October 25, 2002
|Recollections by Mary Sheeran, the lady whose ideas and initiative culminated in this wonderful event and weekend....|
bench is one of those little things that resonates with layers of meaning
for many people. It is above all a tribute to Guy Williams, and an
almost playful reminder about a man who acted for play, and who played
Diego/Zorro without a seam.
Guy Williams has always carried this hero, Zorro, with him. He portrayed the hero of Spanish California with larger than life flair and swashbuckling panache that will resonate long after we've departed earth. He gave insightful performances in the many film and TV roles he played. Who recognizes Zorro in John Robinson? Who could have thought that Guy Williams could portray doubt or insecurity, as he did as Will Cartwright on "Bonanza?" Or pure malevolence, as he did on occasion in "Lost in Space?" But before he was Zorro or Diego or John Robinson or Will or Damon or Captain Sindbad, he enjoyed Central Park and the resources of his hometown, New York City.
Guy Williams was more than the characters he played, as many actor is, and as many fans tend to forget. He was someone with a wide range of interests and ideas, well read, articulate, and fabulous as a chess player and a fencer-- which also means he was fabulously clever and strategic. I don't pretend to know Guy Williams; everything points to the fact that he had a great sense of wonder-- he chafed at the bit in school himself!-- but he had a phenomenal life of the mind. Music, literature, philosophy, theology, astronomy, politics- a very articulate, unique human being. What a sense of curiosity and wonder he must have had!
I also know what a sense of wonder Guy Williams and his work gave to me. And of course he cared for children; that is so appealing about him-- how he brought joy and hope to many children, not just in his own direct efforts to do so, but in the parts he played and the integrity he brought to them, and in taking Zorro to children's hospital wards and spreading delight and magic. Children experience delight and magic here. Children laugh in this park; it's great to hear them. The spirit of Zorro's mischief, and the resonance of his laughter, is a sound I remember from childhood, for the spirit of William's Zorro was mischievous as well as passionate.
Although I have avoided connecting the bench with September 11, 2001, it is true that the tragic events of that day are why I was walking in the Park in the first place in October when the idea for the bench came to me. That was a beautiful day- I remember that it was October 27, 2001. Families were all over the Park, playing, enjoying the mellow weather. The imaginative play- fantasy- which is inspired by the creative spirit at work in Central Park-- is the direct opposite of war, destruction, and fear as well as the source of heroism. To me, adopting Guy's bench is an act, even if small of scale, of defiance against the destroyers of life and imagination.
Our act of giving a gift to Central Park and creating "Guy's bench" also pays tribute to someone who embodied a selfless hero who sought justice and freedom for oppression, playfully. Who inspired us as children to play. Who still inspires people to write and to imagine, and to offer help and friendship and hope. No human is perfect, but there was something in the life and legacy of Guy Williams that nurtured enthusiasm, play and a curiosity for something greater in life, as well as sweet memories. I like to think that our gift to the Park will help to nurture the sense of wonder and care that Guy gave to us in his roles and to which he himself would embrace.
Now in Central Park, we have a spot set for his memory in a lovely place he loved, so that people of all ages enjoying the park or needing to get away from the pressures, and the strains (and grimness) of the city can remember the wonder he gave us, and perhaps tell their children when they are in the mood for a hero with flair, fun, and romance.
Those of us, his fans, who have participated in this small project, have contributed, in a small way, to the maintenance and the beauty of the awesome work that must go on in this Park to make it a free gift to the people- clean and beautiful, and safe for wild life as well. A place where we can all go out and play.
Toni Williams shared the Williams' family's happiness about our adopting a bench for her father, and the inscriptions' inclusion of her mother's name:
What a wonderful success! I read the dedication to my mother, and it brought tears to her eyes. It really couldn't have been more perfect or beautiful. I can't thank you and this amazing group of friends enough for your thoughtfulness. This is a brilliant honor to both of my parents. It's as if you all captured a magnificent moment in time and saved it for all of us. Blessing to you all. Warmly, Toni Williams
Little things have a way of being the most important. Friends, we have done a good thing in adopting a Central Park bench for Guy Williams. It is not just a bench, it is a way of taking pause, taking stock, and looking at life anew. It's simple, it has beauty, it helps the soul, it contributes to nurturing wonder and play and fantasy. And it has Guy's name on it, which means something to us, to his family, to a whole legion of grown-up children who remember, and it means something to people we have not even met. Mary Sheeran
Mary and Jo at the chess tables.
Statue of Columbus.
The bench is behind our next favorite Italian.
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