I was once offered a hundred dollars for this oil painting of State Highway 3 in Iowa. The art collector who offered it was a fellow teacher at the time. He didn’t really know much about painting. He collected wooden Santos, or carved saints from Mexico, and he had bought wooden carousel horses before. He was very knowledgeable about wooden sculpture from Mexico, but kind of a dithering old fool who was actually going blind at the time from cataracts when it came to other kinds of art. He wanted to encourage me as an artist, although he couldn’t really see the painting very well. I loved the old guy, but blind guys shouldn’t really be teachers (unless they have Daredevil level hearing skills), and they definitely shouldn’t try to evaluate art that they can’t see by touching. I was flattered, but also very happy I held on to the painting instead of selling it.
You see, this is literally the road home. Traveling west on Highway Three, you only have to go a couple more miles down this road to reach the little town where I grew up, Rowan, Iowa. And I am going home this week. My parents live on what used to be the Raymond Aldrich farm. Up ahead in the painting you turn right on the gravel road north to reach the connecting gravel room that takes you to Grandpa and Grandma’s farm house, where my parents, in their 80’s now live. In many ways it is a journey into the past. I have a class reunion of the Belmond High School Class of 1975 on July 3rd. I get to revisit the town where I grew up and the family farm which always used to be the center of my world even though we lived in a different house in the town of Rowan. My whole family of 5 is going along. My sisters and their families will also be there. It is worth the 700-plus mile trip, which we are doing today. Soon, the picture becomes reality. I thank my lucky stars I never sold it.