Friday, March 11, 2016

Every Picture Tells A Story, Don't It?**

I don't usually search the web for photos, but this one, recently downloaded from, caught my eye.  It captures two of the things I care most about: horses/animals and art.

You may hear the percussive thunder of hooves on a race course surface.  To you, music.  I see legs like brooding leafless trees in a winter forest and the shoes, fleeting headlight reflections on a rain slick road.  Scattered clods of dirt, here thick and heavy and there, thin and transparent, disturb the photo's angularity.  They are a kind of dissonance, like blood spatters on a wall.  In my eyes, art.

It's funny how you remember clearly things, important things to a child, that happened long ago, especially when those memories are about a favorite toy or a little boy's dog. When I was three or four years old I had a cur dog, chestnut and white in color, that lived under our hen house.  There is an old black and white picture of me, skinny and blonde, already a year or two in glasses, wearing faded bib overalls and no shirt standing next to Brownie in his run.  I think I was smiling in the picture, but then I always smiled when Brownie was around.

When the rabbits raided our garden at night they would taunt poor Brownie and he barked until he was hoarse, at least that's what the policeman told my dad. "Get rid of him or I'll shoot him," the cop said, and in those days he could have shot Brownie and gotten away with it too.  Mrs. Clark from across the railroad tracks had gotten her wish and my dad gave Brownie away.  

I don't ever remember hearing my Brownie barking in the night.  You know how soundly innocence rests. And somehow my dad gave Brownie away without my knowing.  I've carried Brownie around in my heart for many decades now and I hope to see him again one day.

My mother was a big, well, big for King's Mills High School anyway, band singer in the late '30's and early 40's.   And while she sang, she also doubled on bass and did it all while standing on a chair or a stool, or anything that was handy.  She was very short.  

Because of her there was always music in our house, on the radio mainly, and singing, although my tone deaf father remained blessedly quiet.  Because there was music, I've always sung, but after more than 100,000 cigarettes' (haven't smoked for more than 20 years) not as well as I once did.  Perhaps my memory is a just a little fuzzy about the quality of my singing..  

I was a normal kid for my time, baseball crazy and good at it too.  But I was shy and had a difficult time fitting in with the other kids.  So it didn't help my cause when mom enrolled me in tap dancing classes!  Ugh, I hated every minute of it and although dancing helped to make me faster, stronger and more coordinated than most of the other boys, it didn't matter to me, I still resented it.  I just wanted to be like everyone else.  Just a normal little boy.  I was the only boy in the dance class and it made me different, even more than my thick glasses already had.  You bet I resented it.

She redeemed herself though whenever there were "teacher in-service days."  For me it was a day away from the rigors of school.  Mom and I would take a trolly downtown to the Cincinnati Art Museum where I happily spent time with Picasso, John Singer Sargent, Egyptian history and wondered about whoever it was that wore that suit of gleaming armor.

McAlpin's department store had a tea room where mom and I would eat lunch after the museum.  I don't remember not ordering filet of sole with tartar sauce.  I didn't need the menu.

My youth is gone, so is McAlpin's Department Store and its tea room and so, sadly, is my mother.   What is left then is my love for animals and art in all their variety.  Oh, and I almost forgot, all of the memories.

Every picture tells a story, don't it?

** Wouldn't be quite right not to credit Rod Stewart with the title of this piece and the refrain from one of his best songs.

Copyright by Loren R. Schumacher, March 11, 2016

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