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  • Writer's pictureThe Jim Gray Gallery

Old Friends...

Updated: Apr 2, 2019

Throughout a lifetime, there were close friends who made a joyous impression. Early on in Mobile, the Hadden brothers and the Barganier brothers were making memories with Jim as a boy.

Jim's circles intersected often with others who viewed life through a creative eye. Musicians and Writers, Actors on the stage and those behind the scenes, Painters and Sculptors, and all manner of creative folk.

In Mobile there was the old German man who taught piano, Dr Chester and his wife Ellie.

Jack and Jerri crossed paths with Jim and Fran when they started creating beautiful framing an matting for the prints being sold in the gallery. This business connection grew into a lifetime friendship, and the four of them were traveling buddies throughout Italy and beyond. In the Joy of Life Parade, Jack carries in his hand the memory that was always mentioned when reminiscing about their travels... Italian ice cream... Gelato!

As the stories go, the four friends would be walking together, looking at beautiful buildings or window shopping along, when suddenly someone would say "Where's Jack?".

Experience had taught them not to fret his absence and, sure enough, they would turn a corner and there would be Jack, leaned against a light post or looking out across some new lovely view, with a cone of Gelato in hand and a smile on his face. A retired Postman, Jack had a good sense of direction. He would quietly detour from the group, find a vendor, then take a side street that he knew would intersect with the group down the road. Where have you been, Jack? Right here eating this ice cream, waiting for you all to catch up, he'd say with a big smile.

Charlie and Dea shared many an adventure with Jim and Fran on the Gulf Coast. Charlie was an architect and inspired story teller...Dea was a gentle spirit who love everyone, rescued strays of the two and four legged variety, and was Fran's best friend in Alabama.

Craig Sheldon was a master wood carver, a story teller and writer. He and wife Butch lived in a magically creative place know as Sheldon's Castle. The front door, to this day, remains a testament to the friendship, as Jim was invited to carve his signature on the door, along with "politicians and other interesting folks" who visited Craig and Butch over the years.

This still image video below has 11 minutes of raw audio as I talked with Dad about this painting and the people and places it contains. I later found my reference to Dr Chester sitting at the piano behind Dolly was wrong. In fact, Dr Chester and Ellie are together in the image to the right just above. I will share the story of Ellie's Scriabin Cookies later. It is interesting to hear Dad shift from confusion about who or where someone is, with slow pondering speech, to clear recollection and joy in his voice as he recognizes and reminisces.


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