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August 10, 2011 - 3:09pm

Purple bench honoring Batavia's famed novelist installed outside the Pok-A-Dot

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Pok-A-Dot, John Gardner.

When you drive past the Pok-A-Dot today, you may notice a purple bench you've not seen before. It was installed today in honor of John Gardner, the world-famous novelist, poet and literary critic who grew up in Batavia and once considered the Pok-A-Dot his favorite eatery.

The bench, which cost a little less than $2,000, was bought and paid for by the John Gardner Society and installed by a city work crew.

"We wanted the bench to be in the spirit of both the Pok-A-Dot and John Gardner," said local author and Gardner Society member Bill Kauffman. "So, it is, ah, colorful (purple and yellow). Who knows -- maybe we'll paint polka dots on it later. Gardner once said,  'I think a writer who leaves his roots leaves any hope of writing importantly.' Well, his roots haven't forgotten him."

Kauffman said the group has talked for years about sponsoring a memorial for Gardner. Since the group holds its annual Gardner reading each October at the Pok-A-Dot and he included "the Dot" in one of his novels, it seemed like an appropriate spot for a memorial.

"We figured why not put a Gardner bench in front of this literary-culinary capital of Batavia?" Kauffman said.

Leona Pastore, whose family owns the Pok-A-Dot, was enthusiastic and helpful, Kauffman said. He also thanks City Manager Jason Molino for supporting the project and Ray Tourt and his staff for their assistance.

The plaque reads: JOHN C. GARDNER / Author, Teacher / 1933-1982 / Born in Batavia and raised on the family farm on Putnam Settlement Road, Gardner published more than 30 books of fiction, literary criticism, and advice for writers. The novel that brought him national recognition, The Sunlight Dialogues (1972), is set in Batavia and environs, including the Pok-a-Dot restaurant.

Lisa Falkowski
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:)
Irene Will
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THAT is the BEST thing that's happened in Batavia in a LOOOOOOOOONG time !!!!!!
George Richardson
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I dreamed I saw John Gardner last night Alive as he could be, He said I have a chore for you, or maybe two or three. Or maybe two or three. He said you know that purple bench Batavia made for me? I want you to ask those good people, to maybe plant a tree. To maybe plant a tree. I know I'm dead and gone but I see you still think of me, So welcome the riff raff to sit in the shade, and please give them a place to pee. Please give them a place to pee. Thanks Howard, you rule. -Channeled to me through my dear departed Grandma Frances Cooley Richardson of South Liberty Street and Howard Batavian.
Jason Crater
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$2,000 for a bench? yikes.
Jason Crater
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On second thought, $2,000 is a lot of money, but think of the increase in tourism this bench is sure to bring.
George Richardson
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There are times when I would pay twenty dollar just to sit down. Thirty, if it came with an Italian Sausage Sandwich.
Howard B. Owens
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Nice poem, George.
George Richardson
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JT Hunt
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over/under on vandalism - 6 months
RICHARD L. HALE
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Now.....is this a no drinking bench, or a no smoking bench? Or a no smoking-no-drinking bench?
George Richardson
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It's a no sitting bench once the sun comes up and it's too short for sleeping at night. Still, I like it. It's very weird in a good way, I can feel it in my mind. Can you dig it? Batavia has always been slightly on the trippy side of social issues. That's why I still love you.
George Richardson
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Good Luck to all of you. Good luck to all of me too, and Billie and Howard, my hosts.
Brandon Burger
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Great lyrics, George. I enjoyed reading them far more than reading "Grendel."

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