Father’s Day Remembrances

From L to R: brother Dean, sister Deedee, Kay, brother Dennis, sister Gertrude, Mama, Papa

From L to R:
brother Dean, sister Deedee, Kay, brother Dennis, sister Gertrude, Mama, Papa. Taken in the 1040’s.

Dearly Beloveds,

My father had wavy blond hair and large blue eyes and he was always very slim. It wasn’t necessarily genetics . He never over ate. Mother could have his favorite pie, gooseberry, and he would put it aside and at the next meal he would eat it first. He was a farmer but not born to it and truthfully he never took to it like he needed.

When we children were little he was young and full of fun—as frolicking as a new colt and just as uncoordinated. The times he played with us in the summer evenings were always special.  Mom would bring her chair and watch—usually with a little one in her lap. or she was darning socks. “Now Paul,” she would say many times, “don’t act a fool and get hurt” much laughter always from my three brothers.

One evening we were playing Red Rover. The two bases were about 20 feet apart with our clothes line crossing the middle distance. The clothes line was a slender wire not a rope line as it is in most cases. As twilight came on one could not see it easily.  A fact  pointed out by mother and therefore this was not the best place to play Red Rover. My father said it was okay he would remember to run under it – the rest of us too short to worry about it. The play had hardly begun before in Father’s excitement to tag my oldest fleet-footed brother, the hapless man ran full force into the wire clothes line.  It caught him under his chin and flipped him over, sprawling into the grass.

“Oh my goodness!”,  Mother screamed “what have you done to your father!”.  We children began to cry, the dogs set up a barking chorus, the  nearby chicken yard clacked up a ruckus. Father got awkwardly up. Feeling foolish.  He walked up and down the yard , bent over and touched the ground and in general showed  mother he was all right.  Mother put hot liniment on his neck that made him holler. He had a sore neck the next day anyway and an ugly welt that was hard to explain to neighbors who asked. But he assured us there would be more games but no more bases that ran under the clothes line ever again.

As a historical artist,  I am mindful that such snippets of memory as these weave the fabric of our family history; the platform on which our American history is built.




Mother’s Day

The Metzger Homestead

The Metzger Homestead

May 2015

Dearly Beloveds,

A flood or remembrances crowd my thoughts on this passing Mother’s Day. I am revisiting in my thoughts of our old farm house where my five siblings  and I grew up. I remember how we were each scrubbed, pressed and combed and then told  “sit on a chair”. So there six of us would be like birds on a branch waiting for the moment to leave for church wiggling and squirming ready to fly out the door when “let’s go” was called.

I remember with great affection our old Methodist Church. Built by the men in the community years before me, it stood on its own corner of the prairie at the crossroads to Vernon, Illinois and Shobonier, Illinois with four miles to either town. It was not a pretty church. There were no trees to soften its profile against  the landscape. No plantings to hide the stone blocks it rested upon to raise it above the ground. The wind whistled under it in the winter and generations of rabbits nested under it in the summer. It was never locked for it had no lock. Just lift the latch and walk in stranger and take shelter.  Spare and unassuming, forthright as the prairie it stood on.

My mother was the choir leader. Every Sunday she thumped out wonderful spirited music on the old upright piano and the choir would swing into “Bringing in the Sheaves”, “Brighten the Corner Where You Are”, “Old Rugged Cross” with gusto and praise to God.  And you can be sure  that we six would be  in the front row in full view of her sharp watching eyes.

Mother’s  Day was a big church observance.  At a door wide enough to drive a team of horses through, two women of the congregation stood. One held white carnations and the other held red carnations.   As we entered each person or family was asked  “is your mother among the living?” – those who said yes were given a red carnation  and all others received white carnations.

When I was about nine or ten I  began to see Mother’s Day as sad. We children would be given red and Mother was given white. It was about this time of my life that I noticed how a shadow of sadness passed over her face causing her mouth  to curve down and the sparkle leave her eyes for a moment and even her body seemed to wilt somewhat.  A chill ran through me. Someday I would be the one to receive a white carnation.

I did not know my mother’s mother. She, my grandmother, died  long  before I was born. I carried her name. My goodness, it registered with me that my mother had been a little girl too with a mother just like she was to me. My curiosity was set off  and I began to listen to our family’s stories with a keener understanding.  This was family history Mother said and part of our heritage.  Oh wow, family history made me feel tall in the saddle.

But wait –the winds of change were brewing.  Politics entered my life in 1932 when FDR  won the  presidency from Herbert Hoover.  Father was so indignant he sold a pig and bought  a radio to keep track of Mr. Roosevelt. He was a “dyed in the wool” Abraham Lincoln Republican and thought it the only party worth “beans”.  The radio opened door after door after door to the world for us of stories way beyond our community life and our church.

Thus it was that my childhood experience of family history to national history and then world history laid down a level path that  I would eventually follow and become an American historical artist, an on-site researcher, painter and teller of our American history and what it means to be an American.

Hear this– and remember that we are all part of history—we are all  joined together Holding Hands With History. And realize this too—you can’t let go not even when you are physically removed for we all leave our mark on the timeline of history and every individual on that timeline is important to his time and the shadow you cast no matter how small or short, how long or tall it remains an imprint handed down to our next generations.

Kay Smith, Painter of the American Scene

Kay Smith’s watercolor paintings set the stage for President Obama’s visit to Lincoln Park, Illinois.

President Barack Obama visits his hometown to do a bit of fundraising.  Kay’s paintings provide a backdrop for the evening’s agenda.

President Obama visits Lincoln Park, Illinois

Kay Smith, Watercolor Laureate of Illinois paintings thrilled the crowd.  As a historical artist Kay’s paintings are all personally researched and painted on site.  Her paintings tell a story. Kay-Smith-Artist-Laureate_Obama-Event-Lincoln-Park-2 Kay’s paintings pictured above are Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson and Fountain of Flowers which was painted on site at the Illinois Executive Mansion. Kay-Smith-Artist-Laureate_Obama-Event-Lincoln-Park-4 President Obama acknowledged Illinois Governor Pat Quinn as an “outstanding governor of the great state of Illinois.” Kay-Smith-Artist-Laureate_Obama-Event-Lincoln-Park-1

Also attending were White House adviser Valerie Jarrett and Henry Munoz, the Finance Chair of the DNC and architect of Obama’s fundraising strategy in the Latino community.

Kay will be at Printers Row LitFest 2014 in Chicago

Hi Everyone Danny here for Kay Smith Artist Laureate of IL

Kay will be live Today Sunday at the 2014 #PrintersRow #LitFestChicago book fair from 2:00 pm until 5:00

Kay Smith

You will find her at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library Table w/ John LaPine AKA @ChicagoBookMan they will be at the Pritzker Presentation tables #527 & #528 … at Northwest corner of Harrison and Dearborn across from Starbucks In Front of Potbelly Restaurant


Kay Smith Artist Laureate of IL Paints the Tuskegee Red Tails

Kay Smith Artist Laureate of IL will be live at the 2014 #PrintersRow #LitFestChicago book fair w/ John LaPine AKA @ChicagoBookMan they will be at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library Table.

Kay will be discussing her personal connection with the Tuskegee Airmen involved in the work leading up to her painting the “Red Tails Fighter Escorting the US B17s”  Printer’s Row Lit Fest is considered the largest free outdoor literary event in the Midwest. The annual festival draws more than 125,000 book lovers to the two-day showcase.

In this Award winning video Kay Smith Talks about her painting Red Tails Escorting the B17s and will discuss the research, including interviews with veterans, that inspired her work.

For more about Kay Smith Artist Laureate of Illinois Historical Locations in Watercolors go to  http://KaySmithArtist.com

Kay Smith Talks about her painting Red Tails Escorting the B17s Artist Kay Smith will discuss her painting Red Tails Escorting the B17s and provide insight into the research, including interviews with Tuskegee Airmen veterans, that inspired her work.

Kay Smith – Researches history for her projects during the Wings of Freedom Tour – Monterey, California – 5/16/14

Kay tells me visiting with veterans and seeing the majestic bomber aircrafts used during WWII at the Monterey Airport was one of the highlights of her life.  Hearing the engines power up, feeling the thrust created from the engines propellers and seeing the B-24 & 25 take to the sky was amazing.  She said she came all the way from Chicago to view this display and a gentleman opened the way for a picture opportunity with Betty Jane, a P-51 Mustang.

In her gracious fashion, she asked an older fellow if he was a veteran.  The man responded yes and she thanked him for his service.  He in turn thanked her for shaking his hand.

Old Town Triangle – Chicago meets in Carmel, CA – May 2014

Thursday, May 15, finds us capturing colors of happiness through the pink carpet of ice plants blooming along the coast of Pacific Grove, California.  We gaze at the beautiful succulents traiing off cliffs that lead to the sea.  We are motivated to set our easels and position ourselves along the paths.  We meet other artists too, who have traveled from their homes to compete in the Carmel Art Festival.  We talk about art and the painting process.  Later, we sit on benches and look out into the water as the sun constantly changes the hue of the water from pthalo blue and ultra marine to the lightness of cerulean.


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