Archive for April 30th, 2011

Happy Birthday

It’s my Dad’s birthday today.  That’s him on the right in an old photo,and one of my favorites, from about 50 years ago when he was working at a little used car  lot that my uncle used to run in Elmira.  I always loved this picture and that kind of cocky attitude of  it.  It really captures a particular time for me and I can almost smell the oily ground and the dusty interiors of those old  1950’s cars I used to play in and around.

The fellow on the other side of that sweet Chevy Impala  was Jesse Gardner, who also worked with my Dad at the Sheriff’s Department and actually played a small part in my beginning to show my work many years later.   Although I didn’t know it at the time, his son, Tom, a well known painter, was the owner of the West End Gallery in Corning.  I used to visit the gallery before I even started painting and often had long conversations with Tom that eventually led to him taking a look at my work and inviting me to show there.  When I learned that he was Jesse’s son I was surprised I hadn’t put it together before since the two had a strikingly similar appearance.

Growing up, I was a pretty constant companion to my Dad.  Being the youngest by several years, I probably spent more time alone with Dad than my sister or brother, especially as they moved into their late teens.  We spent a lot of time over the years at the Finger Lakes Race Track, a thoroughbred horse track  in Canandaigua.  Maybe not what most would consider an ideal place for impressionable kids but I enjoyed that world at the time and I enjoyed my time with Dad.  We would listen to country stations on the radio on the hour and a half drive there.  I particularly remember us  listening to the news from Paul Harvey with his distinctive take on the world and songs like A Boy Named Sue from Johnny Cash and many others.  Whenever I think of that ride, the song that comes to mind is Counting Flowers on the Wall from the Statler Brothers.  It seems like we heard that many times and we both seemed to enjoy it as we glided through that Finger Lakes landscape that was often filled with the smells of fresh cabbages in the fields.

Anyway, we don’t make a big deal out of birthdays in our family but I did want to say Happy Birthday to my old man down in Florida.  Have a great day, Dad.  Here’s a song for you.

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