It was the best car my 8-year-old self could have wished for…a 1949 Ford Convertible in yellow! The first of only two new cars my parents would purchase in their lives. We took it to the beach with the top down and that made the whole experience even more special. My Mom would make each of us two sandwiches apiece…one for lunch and the other to eat on the way home after we’d worn ourselves out in the ocean. I remember sand-gritty hands, wet hair and towel wrapped body in the back seat, being windblown and loving every moment.
What I couldn’t have realized then was that the most memorable and significant part of that time was the monthly issue of the FORD TIMES that was sent to all customers. In that wonderful little magazine, which was published to encourage car trips in the United States, were watercolors of all the places and scenery being highlighted in each issue. I remember pouring over each installment looking at each painting. I firmly believe that began my passion for the medium that has only grown over time, both as a painter and a collector. My favorite paintings were those done by Rex Brandt and truthfully those were the only ones I remembered until I purchased some issues online a few years ago.
|FORD TIMES - January 1953, June 1956, April 1957|
So, what does this all have to do with Mom and saying thank you? Several years ago I was asked about my early interest in painting watercolors and after mulling that question over a bit, I remembered those paintings in the FORD TIMES.
After remembering, I thought it was necessary to say thank you to Rex Brandt who was so influential for me. I’d had two good chances to say something when I took two workshops from him in the 1980s and I was sorry I hadn’t, but I hadn’t put it all together then. I was in the midst of raising small children and felt lucky to carve out a week to go painting!
At last I wrote a note, telling him about my early interest and how I’d learned about him, my subsequent schooling and teaching and finally my current situation – painting, teaching and having a gallery specializing in water media. I told him I thought it was high time I send him my gratitude for his influence on my life.
Two to three days later, I saw his obituary in the newspaper. My heart sank! I had waited too long. A week later I got a letter from his daughter, Joan. A brief note on the back of the service folder read: “I read your letter to dad on the day is died. He was pleased and so was I. We will miss him.”
Don’t wait too long. I almost did.