A Hometown Icon

Two places I remember best from my childhood in this little town I grew up in.  One of them is no longer in existence.  That was the High’s Ice Cream Parlor.  I can remember going inside with mom on a hot summer’s day, into the cool, cool interior, climbing up onto a stool at the red Formica counter with aluminum trim, and ordering a cone.  It didn’t happen often, which is probably why I remember it.  I am not sure we ever all went at one time, it seems more likely it might have been when I had a doctor’s appointment or something, but who knows, maybe we all went at some point.  Back then, there weren’t fast food restaurants on every corner and everyone didn’t “eat out” all of the time.
This painting I just finished, depicts the other place.  Randolph Market. It opened in 1941.  I wasn’t born yet at that time, but I remember old Mr Neal. He was the grandfather of the man, Chris Neal, who runs it now.  He is about my own age, maybe a year younger. I remember going in barefoot, as a kid walking  on that cool floor. Can’t do that these days.  I remember buying gum or a can of pop after school when I was older. Mostly when I was real young, I remember waiting in the hot sweaty station wagon with my 2 brothers, sister and three cousins, maybe after a day at the lake, before heading to my aunt’s house or home. Right there in the same neighborhood.  I remember when they got the adorable tin roof and striped awning, the whole facelift that you see here, and I am not sure just how many years ago that has been now, but my kids were probably still in elementary school, (the youngest graduates in 4 days) and that’s how long I have been intending to paint this picture!  The son who is graduating, works there now.  I will probably get smaller canvas prints made of it for myself and one of the managers, but this original one is going to the owner.  This is a business that deserves to thrive and has served this community all these decades, and I doubt that they have received much recognition for it.  They are always helpful and generous with things like Vacation Bible School and Neighborhood Watch, that sort of thing.  And our kids went to school with the children of the family that owns it now.  On holidays, they all come in and work.  It’s the kind of place that is fast becoming extinct in America and I just wanted to capture it.  I should try to appreciate this town more like I used to, which is not easy when you lived here all your life and you’ve become frustrated at some of the decline, but really, it does epitomize what is being lost in America these days.  There is a lot of history in this little town and there is a lady at our local library who knows all of it.

Oh, and one other place I really love here is or veteran’s cemetery.  It is especially beautiful when the flags are all up.