This is a scene near Mason. I would love to drive down this road on the way home every day, a winding road with trees making a canopy overhead. We used to visit relatives in East Texas and between Douglasville and Atlanta, there were roads like this that went to the farm houses. It was magical, mystical, and maybe a little bit spooky at night. Dan’s ‘McWhorter cousins’ lived in East Texas and I liked going there, it was so different. The people were soft spoken and no one ever got in a hurry. Their voices had such a sweet, kind sound. (Dan always came home with an East Texas accent and it took a few days for it to wear off). I was amazed at how green it was back there, very hot and humid too. Ben took us fishing in his boat, we got out in the middle of Caddo Lake, anchor in the water, hooks baited, then he had to turn around and take Cousin Lilla all the way back to the bait stand because she was afraid of the water. We fished all day while she sat on the dock beside the picnic basket with the food, I wished I had stayed with her. We loved our East Texas people.
This is a miniature copy of the swing set at Camp Rock. (I didn’t make the trailer, it was a gift from Dan and Debbie). The barn is a copy of one Dan built, ZZ helped him by handing him each nail, one by one that went on the roof. There is the picnic table like the one I built that washed away. I bought the real swing set at Lowe’s and put it together. It came in several heavy cartons full of pipes, seats, chains and a thousand nuts and bolts. I laid it all out on the ground, opened up the instructions and it said, ‘have your helper hold the first leg steady as you connect it to the horizontal top bar’. Well,the only helper around was my little dog Spook. One of these things can be assembled by one person because I did it that day. (a hard job) When it was finished, it was worth it. Our kids came for vacation from Albuquerque the next day, and ZZ had stars in her eyes when she saw it. She spent the next two weeks on the slide or a swing or sitting in the glider with her dog and her stuffed toys, she was three years old. I see swing sets in people’s back yards that are a piece of work. They have climbing walls and bridges, curved slides, ladders up to a landing on top with a flag flying. They are made of redwood and and likely very expensive. I know it would take more than your dog to help put one together. But what a nice thing to have when your kids are growing up, it should last forever. When I grew up, we were lucky if we had a tree big enough to hang a rope swing. Ours was across the street in Grandmother’s yard. You could sit in it and have someone wind you up and spin until you were sick. You staggered out of that swing drunk as a skunk~
In the summer of 1966, this painting was included in a special showing of paintings by 15 outstanding Texas women artists in the office of Sen. John Towers in Washington. The painting, “Spring Brags in Texas” is a bluebonnet scene with the huge live oak tree which is a landmark between Eldorado and Christoval. It stands at the entrance to the Bob Helmers Ranch. An account of the exhibit was written into the 89th Congressional Record and later taken on a circuit tour through Texas. I painted it 48 years ago and it was like yesterday~
When I was growing up, I learned first hand about men and hats. This is a picture Granddad Jack’s old Stetson. Let me see, I think it was the Silver Beaver XXX and cost $15~ a huge amount back 75 years ago. He only wore it when he went to lodge. He had another one he used for every day. If we were in the car, it blocked the view from the back seat, more than once it blew out the window, and often blew into the back seat and into someone’s face. We were constantly reminded to “watch out for my hat!”. When we got somewhere, he had to find a place to put it, men did not wear their hats inside! Later, Dan and I married and he liked hats too. He had lots of them, I had to go shopping with him and he would try one on, hold the brim in front and give it a shake. (this was a test or something) It took forever for him to decided since not many fit just right. (Someone once told him that he had a ‘well shaped head’ and he liked to remember that compliment). I hated the hats. They were trouble! We were in Luby’s eating one day and someone took Dan’s hat and left him theirs. He never forgot it and from then on we would have to sit where he could watch his hat like a hawk. When my first little boy was four, Granddad Jack gave him a Stetson for Easter and I thought, ‘Oh No, Here We Go Again!’ It went through lots of wear and tear with stick horses and cowboys and Indians. Sometimes it ended up on the closet floor, under a pile of toys. It was recycled on down to his little brother. I found it in the cedar chest not long ago and was overcome with feelings, I realized how much I loved this one.
Dan’s mother saw this painting and mentioned it several times, it hangs in the Hermitage in Russia. It was an old world painting, ‘The Stolen Kiss’ by Fragonard. I found a photograph of the painting and was overwhelmed by the beautiful detail in the woman’s dress, I decided to try to copy it. It took several weeks to sketch it off on canvas and once I started painting, I was terribly excited to be doing it. Painting the folds in the woman’s dress was a great experience, it was like reading a good book~ hard to put down. When it was finished Dan gave it to his mother on Mother’s Day, she loved it. She had a beautiful formal living room and the perfect place for it. It has been in the family for 47 years, it now hangs in her grandson’s home.
Looks like a tea party going on, maybe for you and a special little granddaughter. It is almost as easy as reaching in the cookie tin and walking through the house eating cookies, except you will enjoy this special moment you give yourself. The figurine is one my sister Nancy gave me, one of my favorites. The china is from my Grandmother Christian’s set when she started house keeping as a new bride. Little girls like tea parties and old girls do too~
This is a picture ZZ painted of a cow. We took lots of cow pictures in Buscher’s pasture, they were strange looking but probably good ones since they all had ear tags. ZZ was 9 years old on this one. I helped her sketch it off on a 9×12″ canvas. (paint the eyes in first, then it will watch you while you paint in everything else.) To show her how, I would write in b for brown, w for white, etc. and she would paint in the different colors. She learned to mix paint from an early age, we used very few colors, white, blue, yellow, red, and brown. Nearly any color can be mixed from these. She learned early not to mix a big pile of color, if you mix small amounts, each one will be different and make the picture more realistic. One time when ZZ was about 5 years old, we were buying brushes at the art store and an older man and his wife were shopping. From what we understood, he had decided to start painting. He was saying, ‘let me see, I need some purple and some green, and some black’~ I could tell ZZ was having a fit. She finally told me, ‘that man is not obeying’. She knew blue and red made purple, and yellow and blue made green. She was beside herself wanting to go help him. She painted several parrot pictures and sold them on e-bay. Children like bright colors. She painted a lot of adobe houses. They are easy to do and when you are finished, you have something worthy of a nice frame. They have a 3-D effect with shadows and sunlight hitting the walls. The great thing about her is she never got tired, she was never ready to quit. I love this old cow. I love that sweet girl~
Dan made a rocking chair to give his daddy for Father’s Day a few years ago. It took him 7 months, it was a work of art. He had to make all the jigs to bend the strips of walnut, spent weeks putting it together, sanding and rubbing the wood.Finally it was finished and it was delivery time. Debbie called me when they got to the edge of town to have me to send daddy off in the car for something so they could come slip it in the house. Daddy came back, walked right in past the chair and sat at the bar, then Dan gave him his card. Daddy read it and looked it over and was so happy. He said, ” you made this card yourself?'” Well yes! So he read and re-read the card and said it needed to be framed. He thanked Dan again and gave him a big old daddy/boy hug. We were about to crack up it was so funny. Then we all went
to sit in the den and Daddy saw his chair. He was speechless! He sat down and went over every inch of it, stroking it and saying over and over again, “I can’t believe it, and you made this chair!” Daddy treasured things and was happy beyond words. What a wonderful day.
This is a picture of Dan holding his sweet baby D.T in 1956. The second picture is five years later with little Paul. (last week was Paul’s birthday, he was born on June 17, 1961 so this is a very special week for me.) Dan was a wonderful daddy to these two little boys, they were the best thing to ever happen to him.The boys had lots of fine men in their lives~ granddad’s and many uncles~ but no one more special than their daddy. “Ye-haw, let’s stand and sing, keep smiling , raise the flag, who’s ready for a cigar, let’s eat.” I love those boys and loved that daddy!
This is a picture of Granddad marking the hem on ZZ’s new dress. When she came to see us there were always projects. She learned to sew and cook, oil paint and, and most of all practice driving the pickup. Here she is at 9 years old. She made this dress in two days. Dan always was happy to mark hems for me and he helped her with hers. You had to stand perfectly still, he would stick a pin in and and then say ‘shift’. He praised her for whatever work she was doing. They were great friends. He died four years ago and while I was going through some of his things, I found about 20 ‘tickets’ she had printed for him, each with a picture of an omelet, plate of scrambled eggs or brownies~which he could redeem “at any time” and she would cook it for his supper. Sometimes we find these treasures that remind us of precious moments~ they are priceless~
We had the little 17′ Airstream and for years traveled in it. Later when the boys and their families were coming to Camp Rock on the river for two weeks at a time, it was pretty crowded. Early one morning, I saw an ad in the Standard Times “Airstream 31′ trailer for sale,1974 model, one owner, $6,500″. Paul and Anna were at the river so I went to Christoval to get Anna so we could go look at it. We loved it, it was big and it was beautiful. We went back to the river and sent Dan and Paul to buy it. (Dan drug his feet as usual, he had to always think things over). I told him I would pay for it so ‘just go get it, and don’t come home without it!’ Anna and I spent a couple of hours planning and celebrating our soon to be dream come true. When they got back, Dan said, ‘it’s in the bag!’, I offered the guy $5,000 CASH, he will be calling back in a little while to say he will take the deal!’. We came home and he did call, he said, ‘I know how much you girls wanted that trailer but I sold it to the Fords right after your husband left’. I was so mad at Dan, I was sick! The kids went back home to Albuquerque, and a couple of weeks later I took Elizabeth Ann home. One afternoon Anna and I were shopping, and when we got back, Paul said ‘Daddy just called and said to tell you, the trailer is on the premises’. The Fords took it on a short trip and decided it was too big so put an ad in the paper. Dan saw it and went straight up and bought it. They even pulled it down here for him. When I got home, that wonderful trailer was parked in the driveway. In the 20 years we have had it, the longest trip it has made is the 24 miles to the river.
Wishing a Happy Birthday today to someone I love very much!