Animals that made the Parade, and the Family...
Updated: Mar 30, 2019
We always had dogs and cats in our family. Loved ones make a house into a home,
and pets make some of the best loved ones.
The big red Golden Retriever was Rembrandt. He was the most personable old dog you might ever meet. He loved being a part of whatever was going on with his people. Rem was our family dog when we were all growing up.
He liked attention, he knew when he had an attentive audience, and he could play to the crowd. There is a great story Jim loved to tell about Rembrandt and Archie Campbell of Grand Ole Opry and Hee Haw fame. You put two natural born entertainers like these in the same room, one wearing overalls and a straw hat, and the other wearing nothing but a pair of high top sneakers, and you have the makings of a great memory for all involved.
Barnum and Bailey were Jim and Fran's dogs in Knoxville and in Florida. Like their names suggested, they were as entertaining as a three ring circus. Jim and Fran traveled to Indiana for one puppy for her. When they saw these two brothers, Jim decided he better have one too. In our family, the line between pet and kin was drawn pretty fine, but these two took the prize for being especially loved.
Max was Dad's cat. Laurie gave him to Dad , or gave Dad to Max for Christmas one year. Dad wrote in his notebook that "He was a large grey and blackish male that looked like he had "been around". I first thought "I really don't need a cat". But when Laurie put his new litter box down on the floor and he walked over and hopped in and used it, I knew he and I were going to "get along"." Max lived a good long life. When he finally passed on, Dad buried him in the flower garden and carved him a headstone that said simply, "Max, the best cat ever." Today, if you walked into Jim's room, you would see a charcoal drawing Jim did of Max, when they both were in their prime.
Here is the story of Rembrandt and Archie...
The story of Ol' Michael the monkey, getting out of his cage and into a "mess", will be included later, with a selection of other images in the Parade from Jim's earliest years in Corinth, Mississippi.
I will also include an audio recording of Jim reminiscing about telling his folks how Ol' Michael had "raised a ruckus". As a young boy will do, he fiddled around with rhyming that word and teetered dangerously close to the edge of someplace his Dad cautioned him that he better not go.
In a juxtaposition of points of view... Ol" Michael is sitting up high in the painting, watching the the antics of the people below.
Mickey Mouse roller skating along, with the red tricycle in tow. The trike is another great story, and I promise to tell it later. As for Mickey Mouse... it's because, well, he's Mickey Mouse!
And the Cowardly Lion? Jim's handwritten notes tell his reasoning for including Bert Lahr.
Jim captured all the family that existed when he was still painting these.
Since then, two Great Grand Kids have joined the family... Dylan and Charley Ann.
Derek and Brienne are rolling along with Bear Hugs for all. Chelsey in her blue and gold cheerleader uniform, and Josie serving another ace. Tanner collecting an arm load of Mardi Gras beads, and Daniel up a tree with one of his kinetic sculpture creations. Evan the English teacher channeling the Bard, and Hannah the pastry chef delivering the goods. Laurie, Chris, and Matt, with the red racing car. All these are mere glimpses of the people Jim loves, yet he found a way to weave our personalities into these simple portraits.
Please keep in mind that I am writing these posts for the good of my own heart and mind, for my family and extended family of folks who have collected Jim's artwork for well over 50 years, AND,
to hopefully inspire others, who are traveling down this road of Dementia, to consider how they too might create their own version of a Joy of Life Parade, to preserve special memories in photographs, written words, and recorded voices and images. If you haven't Subscribed yet, please do so at the bottom of this page, so you will get a brief notice when new posts come along. If you know someone that you think might like to read along, please share the link with them.