My all-time favorite painter was Norman Rockwell. He painted life as he wished it to be not always as it was. He painted about the aspects of my life and the lives of many Americans.
The hoity-toity art community shunned him and turned up their collective noses and labeled him an illustrator.
“He is not a painter,” they snorted with disdain and sanctimony dripping from their arrogant and conceited lips.
I have several of his prints framed and on display in my office and house. One in my office particularly resonates with me because it depicts me many years ago. It is titled “Breaking Home Ties” and portrays two people and a dog in a poignant scene. The father with gray hair above his ears is wearing a faded denim shirt and pants that have been down the trail many times. His huge gnarled hands are holding two hats: one is his well-used cowboy hat and the other is a dressier hat for the boy. His hands are of a man who tills the soil and tends animals. My dad had huge hands such as his. He is wearing cowboy boots and there is a string from a bag of “makins” tobacco dangling from his shirt pocket; a home-rolled cigarette dangles from his lips. He is slumping over, pensive, looking down, lost in thought as he sits on the running board of an old pickup truck circa the 1930s with Double J Ranch barely visible on the door. He is not ready for this day.
Sitting beside him is a bright-eyed teenage boy wearing a light colored suit with shirt and tie. His shoes are spotless and argyle socks are showing. In his lap is a lunch his mother sent with him. His face is filled with anticipation about the future as he looks down the tracks wishing the train would come. Between his feet is a well-used suitcase with books piled on top of it and a pennant for State U on the end. A faithful Collie dog sits with his head resting on the boy’s left knee.
Off to one side is an old crate or box with a railroad lantern resting on the top. It is obvious that the son is going off to college and the father has brought him to the train station and they are waiting; both are lost in their own world.
Dad is thinking where did the time go? How am I going to pay for his education? How will I get the work done without him? World, don’t take my boy from me.
The boy is thinking I can’t wait to get to school and escape ranch life. The world is my oyster and I want to eat it. The world is out there for the taking and this is the first step. I can’t wait.
The dog is thinking why is Bobbie’s dad so sad? Why does Bobbie have a suitcase? His lunch smells good. Is that the train I hear? That was me back in the middle of the last century. I lived it again when our daughters went off to school and since then they have only been visitors to our house.
[Larry Vandeventer. Go to my two websites – Larryvandeventer.com and wjrambler1956.com – and purchase my books. I grew up North of Calvertville and graduated from Worthington High School and Indiana State. Contact me at Goosecrick@aol.com or 812-557-3342]