Tag: J.A. George

Andalusian Dancer In Cave Café At Sacro Monte" By: The GYPSY

Anatomy Of A Painting “Andalusian Dancer In Cave Café At Sacro Monte”

Acrylic On 16″ x 20 ” Gallery Stretched Canvas.

This painting was my last of 2021 and my first of 2022 having started it on 12/22/2021 and finished it the afternoon of 01/01/2022.
The photo that this painting is based on comes from the National Geographic book “Gypsies Of The World”. This picture has always held a fascination for me. My family migrated from Sacro Monte, which is near Granada, Spain, to Enigen, Germany in 1543 to escape the Spanish Inquisition. My family consists of Artisans, Craftsmen, Healers, etc. and were prime targets.
Romani businesses and skills are passed from one generation to the next. I cannot help, when I look at the photo of the dancer in the café, but think that perhaps my ancestors visited the café and enjoyed a nights entertainment much as the people are doing that I have depicted in my painting.
I have taken liberties with the photograph and have added my own take on the people within the café. I have also included, in the photos on the wall, members of my family as well as the family crest. Most notable is a picture of Berta Hummel also known as Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel. She is a distant cousin of mine and the Artist who inspired the Hummel Figurines.
There are many surprises and a multitude of stories within this painting. I hope you enjoy them all.

-The GYPSY-
“Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!”

End Of The Green: College Of Crows - Oil Painting By The GYPSY

The Artist Life: Topeka Spring Eve

Daffodils and Peonies lift up their scent from the garden below

Through the window their fragrance drifts poignant and ever slow

The sun settles towards the west drawing with it the last light

Shadows creep across the floor chasing the day from our sight

 

Soft breeze rustles the blinds, music swaying the slats and cord

Wood grain trails from wall to wall changing with each board

Mindless chatter touches the dusty air around the empty time

Coffee, tea and laughter fight on the screens electric vertical line

 

Images fade to a small gray dot as the oak box is shut off

Cracking, popping its protest as I exit the door of the loft

New leaves wave as I pass under their light green ceiling

Young grass dances upon the walkway blind and unfeeling

 

Houses of white, gray board and brick fade behind a tree

Structures of granite, marble, and stone loom ahead of me

Car radio blares out Broadway, a street in a city far away

As I step upon broad Kansas a street in this city today

 

Light glows green, mocking the color of Topeka’s Capitol dome

Autos suddenly stop their engines belching protest as I roam

Lines in a sidewalk try to jump forth and break my mom’s back

I dodge and weave counting steps so I may avoid each evil crack

 

Old people stare at women where men browse and children play

Searching for the news, fiction or just a thing too important to say

The smell of tomes, newsprint, candles, candy, ink old and stale

Fills the fluorescent glow of the interior where the world is for sale

 

Casper, Superman, Batman and Wendy reach to me from the rack

Richie Rich, Mighty Mouse, Flash and Spooky beg me from the stack

I flip the pages as the four colors explode into tempting allure

Nightmare, Green Lantern, Black Hawk, or Dot I’m just not sure

 

My choices are made held secure and close to my heart within one arm

The rest returned to their slant seat awaiting for the next soul to charm

Silvery coin to clerk, butterscotch stick in mouth I leave with my treasure

Turning towards home I direct my step anticipating hours of pleasure

 

The red and white machine looms ahead wherein the green bottle lies

Dime in the slot, Twist of the handle to hear the slide and out it flies

Cap popped off as the fizz escapes and tiny bubbles fill the dusky sky

Icy cold the syrupy liquid sharp and sweet burns the throat till I cry

 

In one hand the bottle kept intact for the two pennies it has earned

In the other hand the magic paper whose pages wait to be turned

Red sky turns purple as blue lights high above hum to dull glow

The cobbled walk tries to trip my step as it leads me home too slow

 

Upon my porch the round orb above casts it’s yellow and hazy light

As moths and their cousins dance and swarm within their endless flight

The brown, rusty springs stretch on the end of the porch swing chain

Screaming their protest as my weight settles in  the seat that I claim

 

Lost with Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewey and Louie within a vault

I sail away until mother calls me to bed, until tomorrow I shall halt

But upon the sunny morning I shall again be whisked far and away

As Hot Stuff, Green Arrow and Lottie jump forth and ask me to play

 

And when the magic has been used up within the pages faint and torn

Again shall I visit the World News Stand where my mind can be reborn

-The GYPSY-

The Scent Of Lilacs Oil Painting By The GYPSY

The Artist Life: The Scent Of Lilacs

Drifting on the breeze
A scent that puts my soul at ease
Lilac fragrance fills the air
Triggering memories of time without care

Delicate blossoms on the sprig
Not long they’ll last what joy they bring
One bush here another there
Signals of spring sight and smell to share

Grandpa loved the flower
In it’s color there laid such power
When I was just a child
The bush he planted grew so wild

Outside my bedroom window
The bush would bloom and ever grow
Never again to be shorn
As each spring its scent would be reborn

Now my paint brush
Tries to capture the fragrant rush
Of my own Lilac bouquet
Whose color and scent hold me sway

And when the canvas
Has taken my color within each crevasse
Then the scent of Lilac
Will be captured and kept intact

And I will have painted
Pure nature, perfect in essence and untainted

A scent that puts my soul at ease
Lilac fragrance fills the air
Triggering memories of time without care

Delicate blossoms on the sprig
Not long they’ll last what joy they bring
One bush here another there
Signals of spring sight and smell to share

Grandpa loved the flower
In it’s color there laid such power
When I was just a child
The bush he planted grew so wild

Outside my bedroom window
The bush would bloom and ever grow
Never again to be shorn
As each spring its scent would be reborn

Now my paint brush
Tries to capture the fragrant rush
Of my own Lilac bouquet
Whose color and scent hold me sway

And when the canvas
Has taken my color within each crevasse
Then the scent of Lilac
Will be captured and kept intact

And I will have painted
Pure nature, perfect in essence and untainted

Yeso Wall Watercolor Painting By The GYPSY

The Artist Life: Yeso

YESO

I rolled down the endless highway into the bright New Mexico day. Clouds hung low in the blue morning sky like poly fiber torn from an over stuffed pillow. As I rolled along I knew that the soft clouds could gather into a storm, I watched the sky with wary eye.

Mile after mile passed beneath my wheels as I headed east along Highway 60 towards Ft. Sumner. I watched the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe tracks running along side the road, rail keeping pace with asphalt.

The clouds had congealed into a soft gray mass and I prayed that if they opened it would be a quick desert rain and not a deluge of biblical proportions.

I was thinking about the last 22 miles I had to travel to our destination when I topped a rise in the highway and there it was; A Ghost Town!

I grabbed brake, instinctively, pulling onto the dusty shoulder in front of, what was once, the dead towns post office. I did not have to wonder if I should stop, I knew the answer. My artist eyes had seen this treasure and I knew Yeso, New Mexico was mine for the taking.

Yeso means “gypsum” in Spanish; the town was established in 1906, when the AT&SF RR came to the area, and it became a trading center for ranchers (and the very few farmers) in the area.

Its post office began operations in 1909, and is now the towns only business servicing the nearby ranch’s from a small metal building. The postmaster lives behind the small office in a 5th wheel trailer.

Yeso was spelled Yesso during the years 1912-1913, for unknown reasons. When it became clear that the land was not suited for farming, and only useful for sheepherding and cattle grazing, many of the original settlers moved away. Only a hand full of people still call Yeso home. On this day I was Yeso’s only tourist.

Yeso is a true ghost town in every sense of the word. It’s abandoned red adobe brick buildings are slowly returning to the earth from which they arose.

Open doorways beckon you into passages dimly lit by the ambient light of the desert sky. Sage and course grass cover areas of collapsed flooring like a rolling carpet of dusty green and dark sienna. Empty windows stare out at the world while tumble weed residents roll along long forgotten sidewalks.

Here and there you can hear the residents of this once thriving town talking to each other. The desert finch warns the curious Kangaroo rat that the red tail hawk is nearby while the crows gossip about what the diamondback did last evening. If you listen even closer you can still hear echo’s of the human voices that once filled the vacant structure’s.

I moved around the town, photo after photo capturing what one day would be no more than a dusty pile along a busy road. Foundations that served as planters for prickly pear and cholla cactus today would tomorrow be nothing more than a mound from which creosote arose.

My camera’s shutters click, click, click was answered by the whistling wind that played through missing roofs and broken rafters. I speculated on belongings left behind and what the town must have been like when it was populated with humans instead of desert willows.

I returned to the highway and continued on towards Ft. Sumner. The thick gray clouds were started to thin out as I rolled on. I looked in my rearview mirror one more time for a final look at Yeso. The desert ghost town disappeared from my view as it would one day disappear from the world. It will be forever lost to the ages but captured, at least for a brief time upon my film to one day be brought back to a tenuous life upon my canvas’s resurrected by an artists brush.

-The GYPSY-

TopCon Pop Expo 2020 Banner

TopCon Pop Expo To Artist Alley Studio

TOPCON POP EXPO to ARTIST ALLEY STUDIO

Changes come from unexpected places and as the old saying goes “God works in mysterious ways.” So it was with the death of TopCon Pop Expo and the birth of Artist Alley Studio.

When the Covid-19 Pandemic hit TopCon was well on track for our seventh year. When I created the event in 2014 I had never imagined that it would grow to the size it did. In our seventh year we had contracted to bring Animaniac’s in Concert to the Topeka Performing Arts Center. The main event would be held in the newly remodeled Exhibition Hall at the Stormont-Vail Events Center. To top it all off the Greater Topeka Partnership was talking with us about making TopCon Pop Expo a weeklong event.

While we were gearing up for TopCon Pop Expo 2020 we were also moving the Artist Alley Studio out of the NOTO Arts District out to our current location on Southwest Topeka Blvd. We had outgrown our space in the Amused Gallery where we were renting a studio room. It was time for me to come out of semi-retirement and go back into tattooing and piercing full time.

My wife Raychel and I had combined our LLC’s and had made the transition from Skin Art Creations Tattoo Emporium to Artist Alley Studio Tattoos and Piercings. We were remodeling our newly acquired storefront and we were on track for an April 1st opening. Then the world shut down on March 25, 2020. Everything came to a screeching halt and life became an uncertain future of what-ifs and maybes. We would have to wait until the quarantine was lifted to open the studio and TopCon’s future was uncertain.

During the shutdown the news came down that the Coronavirus Pandemic would be around for an unknown period of time and would get worse before it got better. We decided to cancel TopCon for 2020 and concentrate on getting Artist Alley Studio going in the direction it needed to go. On May 18, 202o the Artist Alley Studio opened, and we were on the road to recovery. We held hope that TopCon Pop Expo would return in 2021.

As we moved out of 2020 and into 2021 we started plans for TopCon Pop Expo 2021. We had lost the opportunity to host Animaniac’s in Concert so we were looking at other possible acts for TPAC so we would not lose our deposit. We were also working with the agent for Animaniac’s in Concert since we had paid a large deposit with his agency, and we did not want to lose that either.

We were faced with many obstacles that were becoming harder and harder to overcome. One Con rescheduled their event for the same weekend as TopCon had always been. Plus plans were made to have the delayed Topeka Saint Patrick’s Celebration on the same weekend also. We moved TopCon from the 3rd weekend in September to the 2nd Weekend in October to avoid the competition and possible low attendance.

Business was good at the Artist Alley Studio but the future of TopCon was uncertain. TopCon Pop Expo’s fate was sealed with the news that we could expect a new surge of infections in the Fall. Between the risk to public health and the mask mandate not to mention most Con’s had already experienced low attendance in our new Pandemic world; we pulled the plug on TopCon Pop Expo.

By the time we refunded our vendors and cancelled contracts losing the deposits we experienced a $20,000 loss. This loss effectively killed TopCon Pop Expo and we laid Topeka’s First Pop Culture Convention to rest. There would be no reschedules; it was over. It was time to move on.

We have since poured all our efforts into making the Artist Alley Studio the best it can be. We have also renewed our faith in God and become more involved in activities at our church; Topeka Bible Church. Whether it is our Tattooing and Piercing Services, our in studio and online store or our Art Gallery both physical and online we work hard to progress and offer the best we have.

Part of our transition was within our newsletters. We migrated people that had signed up for the TopCon Pop Expo newsletter over to the 3 Artist Alley Studio newsletters: At Needles Point, The Artist Life and Free Art Fridays. We hope that the fans and friends we made with TopCon Pop Expo will continue to be our fans and friends with Artist Alley Studio.

I personally like keeping in contact with our newsletters. I can share news and interesting info with our subscribers, and I feel like it is a more personal form of communication that goes far beyond social media. Long before social media was a thing we communicated and socialized through emails and email newsletters. I have noticed a trend back to this form of social communication and I am proud that Artist Alley studio can be part of it.

If you enjoy our newsletters and you think you know someone else who would enjoy them, please feel free to share our subscription link. We also hope that you enjoy our efforts with Artist Alley Studio enough that you will share our Tattoo and Piercing Services with other as well as our Artwork and websites.

Thank you so much to those who supported TopCon Pop Expo during its existence and Thank You to those who continue to support us and our Artist Alley Studio. May God Bless and Keep You and Yours Always.

-The GYPSY-

1963 Spacewalk Revisited By: The GYPSY

The Artist Life: Am I A Figment Of Your Imagination Or Am I One Of Yours

AM I A FIGMENT OF YOUR IMAGINATION OR AM I ONE OF YOURS

As I sit here watching the words appear upon the screen of my laptop I have to ask myself; Does life imitate art or does art imitate life?

I remember drawing a man walking in space. I carefully rendered the image with my 6 year old hand upon the Manila paper with the fat crayons. I remember getting a Dixie cup full of water and dipping my paint brush into the clear liquid. I moistened the small pat of blue paint and soaked my brush with the azure liquid. I rinsed the brush in the water turning it light blue. Dip, moisten, rinse, dip, moisten, rinse until I was satisfied with the shade of blue within the cup. I then started brushing the diluted water color across the surface of the paper; back and forth, forth and back I went until the large sheet of paper was covered. Years later I would learn that this was called a “Wash” but on that day I was just was trying something new.

Did I know that I was supposed to do this or did someone tell me how to do it? The sands of time have coated my memory and fogged my vision. What I do remember is my first grade teacher, Miss Pyle, making a big deal out of it. I remember the picture being on display in the Clay Elementary School hallway for a long time. I remember my Mother and Grandmother excitedly telling me that my picture won the number one place in the State of Kansas. I did not understand what that meant but they were excited and happy so I acted excited and happy too.

I remember a newspaper reporter with a big camera taking my photo and asking me how it felt to know that I was the number one artist in my age group in the country. I remember two years later when the same reporter asked me; “How did you know two years ago that man would walk in space?” I remember my Mother and Grandmother being so proud that my simple picture was on display in the Smithsonian Institution. I remember asking, “What’s a Smithsonian?”

My Mother once looked at me and said; “I don’t trust you, when I am old you will put me into a nursing home and leave me there to die.” I argued that I would never do that and that if she ever did need to be in a nursing home I would not abandon her and just “Leave Her To Die”. She did not believe me and said, “Your sister will take care of me, unlike you.” I told her, with as much conviction as my 15 year old mouth could muster, “Pat will not take care of you but I will.” When the time came Pat did not take care of her… I did.

How did I know Man would walk in Space? How did I know my Mom would need me one day? I have known these things and so much more about my life. I once heard it said that life is a canvas upon which an unfinished painting resides. No one knows what the next brush stroke may bring. But within my life the canvas is not unfinished; I know what the next brush stroke will be and where I will put it.

I cannot tell you why or how that I know what the painting of my life will be I just know that it is. Sometimes it weighs heavy on me, this knowing. I often feel like that Astronaut, coupled to his capsule by a thin life line as the void of space beckons. He cannot be distracted by the darkness around him; he must forever keep his eye on that silver metal life raft which floats high above the planet of his birth. Some day the space man will re-enter his capsule, secure the hatch and plummet at 185 miles per hour like a shooting star back from whence he came. But today he will not fall back to earth; today he shall live in a crayon Universe and swim in a wash of blue in manila space.

-The GYPSY-

Xunantunich Pyramid in Belize

The Artist Life: Inspiration From A Haunted Pyramid

Inspired To Paint El Castillo Pyramid at Xunantunich in Belize

The moment I saw the photograph of the El Castillo Pyramid in Belize I knew that it would be on my list of future paintings I would create, People have not inhabited this site in western Belize for a thousand years, but something else is said to roam the place.

Belize is a Caribbean country on the northeastern coast of Central America. It borders Mexico to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and Guatemala to the west and south.

The name Xunantunich (Stone Woman or Maiden of the Rock) was given to this ancient Mayan archaeological complex in the 19th century. The name is said to be derived from the sighting of a ghostly figure of a woman who disappears as one gets nearer to her.

Other aspects of these city ruins are decidedly more solid: Six plazas and more than 25 palaces and temples are preserved within roughly one square mile, situated high on a plateau above the Mopan River.

The Maya civilization spread into the area of Belize between 1500 BC and AD 300 and flourished until about 1200. They left behind monumental cities and pyramids. Few are as awe inspiring as El Castillo.

Sometime soon in the near future I shall take brush to canvas and create my version of the ghostly and majestic giant that has survived far past it’s creators.

-The GYPSY-

Before The Storm Oil On Canvas Board By The GYPSY

Anatomy of a Painting: Before The Storm

“Before The Storm”

By Romani American Artist J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY 16″ x 20″ Oil on Canvas Board.

A Throwback Thursday offering. This painting from 2006 was my first attempt at painting a seascape. I had always shied away from seascapes but on this particular day I was feeling adventuresome.
I originally had not intended to make the clouds so bold and dramatic but as I started layering them I could not help myself. The sea was originally calm with gentle waves but with the boldness of the clouds I could feel the approaching storm. To offset the drama of the clouds I gave the water it’s own boldness as it rolled in “Before The Storm”.
I do a Christmas giveaway every year of one of my paintings and this one went to a sweet lady in Coffeyville, Oklahoma who had some health issue. She said of the painting, “I feel like I am the sea and once I get to shore I will be calm. This painting makes me feel peaceful.”
-The GYPSY-

The List Acrylic Painting By The GYPSY

The Artist Life: The List

The Night Santa Saved Christmas By: J. A. George AKA; The GYPSY

The wind rustled the plastic on the windows at 433 East High popping the artificial storm windows in and out like the breathing of some transparent rectangular monster trapped within the window frame. This was made even more unsettling by the fact that the plastic adorned the windows on the inside of the house and not the outside.
Jimmy and Patty sat on the couch, a blanket wrapped around their bodies to insulate them from the cold. The floor heater cracked and groaned but did little good to chase off the cold in the drafty un-insulated little house on Topeka’s east side. Jimmy and Patty watched the old GE black and white TV reflect back images of Bing Crosby as he, Rosemary Clooney, Vera Ellen and Danny Kaye sang about a White Christmas. Jimmy looked over at the little tree in the corner, the red, green and gold bubble lights sending their tiny endless stream of bubbles up the tubes to go nowhere and disappear in the glass tip of the cylinder. He then looked back at the black and white image of the tree behind the four singers and though their tree was gray within the flickering image Jimmy knew it was a grander tree than he would ever have.

“Is Santa coming tonight?” asked Jimmy’s seven year old sister. “Yes”, Jimmy assured Patty, “But only after your asleep”. Jimmy was 13 and had stopped believing in Santa Claus when he was 9 or 10. Jimmy did pray however that if Santa Claus was real and he was wrong about his existence that he would brave this cold Kansas Christmas eve night and visit their house. Jimmy got up off the couch and led his sister to the bed room she shared with their Mother, Shirley. Tucking her into her bed Jimmy went back into the living room and curled up on the couch to wait for his Mom to come home from work.

As he watched a Cockroach scurry across the floor he prayed that his Mom would remember to pick up some bug spray when she came home from work. The roaches had been bad for the past few days ever since they had ran out of the deadly aerosol the week before. Jimmy watched the little brown creature explore the floor and wondered what went through a roaches head as they scampered to and fro. He hated cock roaches and had no remorse as he picked up a shoe and smashing it flat upon the bare painted plywood floor. Ah, thought the boy, a heel goes through their head. He chuckled at his own small joke. Jimmy left the carcass lie and turned his attention back to the old TV where the Norelco Santa was sledding down the hill on an electric razor.

Jimmy had dozed and was dreaming of dancing mice and singing slugs when the sound of the front door opening jerked him awake. “Hi Mom”, he said rubbing sleep from his eyes, “what’s for dinner?” Normally Jimmy would not ask such a question as he was perfectly capable of fixing him and his sisters meals when his mom wasn’t there but there was no food left in the house and the two children had not ate that day. Shirley looked at he son with a forced smile and said, “Tonight we are going to do breakfast for dinner.” She held up a bag that contained a loaf of day old bread and a carton of a dozen eggs. Jimmy knew what that meant for he had to eat breakfast for dinner before. It meant mom had no money so she had scraped together some change to buy the quarter a loaf bread and the thirty five cent carton of eggs. It was the cheapest meal his mom could throw together outside of a box of Macaroni and Cheese which was also a staple in this home.

Jimmy took the brown paper bag from his mom and headed for the kitchen to drop bread in the toaster and heat up the skillet for eggs. Before he dropped the bread into the toaster he turned it upside down and gave it a shake. The cock roaches liked to hide inside the silver box to feast upon the bread crumbs on the bottom. Jimmy hated the smell of cooking roach so he always checked to make sure none were in the machine before inserting the bread.

Shirley sat down on the couch exhausted. She worked three jobs and still could not make ends meet. She would finish her shift as a proof reader then rush across the street to Pelletier’s Department store where she would assemble bicycles for rich children and wrap presents for even richer parents. On Saturday and Sunday she worked as a PBX switch board operator for answering service near Washburn University. If it wasn’t for the “Aid To Dependent Children” check she received from the state every month to pay her rent and the government commodity allotment she received she might have had to give up her children to Social Services to be placed in foster care. Sometimes she wondered if the children wouldn’t be better off.

Shirley felt fortunate to have her job at Pelletier’s especially since her and her mother had exchanged words three years previous which had led to the eviction of Shirley and her children from her mothers home. Her mother could have fired her from Pelletier’s but didn’t. Her mother was the manager of the large upscale department store. Maybe, Shirley would often think to herself, she keeps me on to alleviate her guilt for kicking me and the children to the curb. The truth of the matter was this however; Pearl, Shirley’s mother, did not feel guilty nor had she tossed her grandchildren out. She had told Shirley to leave but that the grandchildren could remain but Shirley choose, through stubborn pride, to take her children with her. Though Pearl refused to speak with her daughter until Shirley apologized for what she had said to her mother during that argument 3 years hence, Pearl kept Shirley working. Shirley was a phenomenal gift wrapper and a skilled assembly person and Pearl knew it would be bad business to fire such a person from the Pelletier’s team, daughter or no daughter.

Shirley could smell the eggs Jimmy was cooking and looked up as her daughter exited the bed room rubbing her eyes. “Mommy I’m hungry.” the little girl said rubbing her eyes. “I know dear,” Shirley said as she brushed the child’s hair from her face with her hand, “Your brother is fixing eggs.” Shirley looked at her daughter and hoped she would go back to sleep quickly after eating her eggs and toast. Shirley wanted to finish knitting a poncho that she was making for her daughter. She prayed that Patty would believe that Santa had brought it to her for Christmas. Shirley did not know what she would tell her son but she hoped that he would understand why he was getting no present this particular year.

Shirley sighed and laid her daughter on the couch. Covering her daughter with a knit blanket she had made and told her that she would call her when the food was ready. Well, thought Shirley, I better go back and let Jimmy know that there will be no Christmas presents for him this year. Shirley was standing in the kitchen at the back of the house explaining to Jimmy how it is not important to receive gifts on Christmas when the knock came at the front door.

At first it was ever so soft and could have been just the wind shaking the door when the knock came again. A little louder and more urgent Mother and son both looked towards the front door as Patty cried out, “Mommy, someone’s at the door.” Shirley and son headed for the front of the small house. Shirley was concerned for it was almost 10:00pm and she couldn’t imagine who would be knocking on her door this late on a Christmas eve. Jimmy got to the door first and flung it wide letting a blast of cold air fill the house.

Jimmy stood slack jawed looking at the box upon box upon box that filled the front porch. Shirley was speechless and could not imagine that what she was looking at, dozens of brightly wrapped packages, was real. Patty put a name to it as she scurried towards the front porch and the gifts it bore. “SANTA” the little girl cried out, “SANTA” Jimmy, his mom and sister spent the next few minutes bringing packages into the house. As they got towards the bottom of the stack Shirley discovered several boxes filled with food including one box just full of wrapped meat from a butcher shop. One box had canned goods while another had things like pasta and cereal. But the box that fascinated Jimmy the most was the one that contained a turkey that was almost as big as his sister.

The children begged their mother to let them open the presents but she told them “NO, Santa wants you to open your presents on Christmas.” But the children weren’t listening all they knew was that there were presents to be opened so Shirley relented and let them pick one package each to open. Patty’s package contained a new “Malibu Barbi” doll while Jimmy’s package contained a Zorro Hand Puppet. How did Santa know that I like puppets? Jimmy wondered as he fell off to sleep later with a full stomach.

Christmas day the packages revealed a Cornucopia of presents for the children. Dolls, Games, Slot Car Race Tracks, Hot Wheels Cars, Doll Clothes just to mention a few of the children’s items. There was also clothes for the children from socks to shoes to sweaters to coats. New dresses, new pants and new shirts galore. Shirley watched as the children ripped open and revealed their presents and she knew that Santa had, in her hour of need, visited her children. She was a little sad, thinking that Santa had forgot about her when she saw the small Robin egg blue envelope at the bottom of one of the boxes with her name typewritten across it’s face. Shirley picked up the envelope and with trembling hands opened it. Inside was a note that read;

Josten’s American Year Book, Mass Ave. Topeka, KS 8:00am Monday December 29th. Shirley E. Stewart report to Proof Reading Department for orientation. Starting Salary”..

Shirley sat down hard on the couch and read the starting salary again. It was $50.00 per week more than she was making holding down 3 jobs. She swallowed hard and began to cry. “What’s wrong mommy?” Patty asked. Shirley looked at her children in their new clothes holding their new toys and she could smell the turkey cooking in the kitchen where the cupboards were full for the first time in a long time. “Nothing,” she said, “Not one damn thing.” She grabbed her daughter and pulled her close as Jimmy stepped on a cockroach. “I wish Santa had remembered the bug spray!” the boy said as he sent the pest to bug Heaven. They all laughed together, and each in their own way, would forever know that Santa Claus was real and had visited their small home on Christmas Eve of 1969.

******
In March 1981 during the last visit I had with my Grandmother before she passed away the subject of this visit from Santa Claus came up. I asked my Grandmother what she knew about it and if she had a hand in it. She smiled that smile that let the world know that she was up to some sort of mischief then sweetly and innocently said, “Now Jimmy as I recall I may have said something to Santa about Shirley needing some help but it’s been so long ago I hardly remember”. She then changed the subject and the matter was dropped and never brought up again until Christmas of that year.

Grandma sent a small package of presents to me, my wife and daughter for Christmas. For my wife she sent a antique silk hanky with a Parisian print on it. For my daughter, who is a Christmas miracle herself being born on Christmas eve, she sent an old fashioned small plastic doll with a knit outfit. My Christmas package from my Grandmother contained a Zorro hand puppet and a card that merely read “Ho, Ho, Ho”. I held that puppet close to my chest two months later when news came of her passing.

Is Santa real? Yes he is and I will never think otherwise for he once saved Christmas for my family.

-The GYPSY-

“Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!”

This story is included in my Book “Blogging Kansas: Musings From The Land of Oz” Available on www.Amazon.Com

Copyright Tatman Productions LLC – All rights Reserved. No pictures or text may be copied and or used without the express written permission of the artist and author.

"Fritz Durien Hall Of Fame Warehouse" By: The GYPSY

The Artists Life: Fritz Durien’s Hall Of Fame Warehouse

THE ARTISTS LIFE: “FRITZ DURIEN HALL OF FAME WAREHOUSE”

Water Color on 9“ x 12” Cold Press Paper By Romani American Artist J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

What Carry Nation did to keep Kansas dry, Fritz Durien did to keep Kansas wet. From his Hall of Fame Saloon Topeka Barkeep Fritz Durien kept stashes of the good stuff at various locations under the floor boards of his Saloon. Not one to go down easy Ol’ Fritz fought the battle against Kansas Prohibition all the way to the high court.

The photo that this painting is based on struck me for it’s stark simplicity of an act of defiance. Fritz is not making a grand gesture rather the gesture is simple and speaks volumes. You can almost hear Fritz thoughts as he stashes his treasure; My customer’s will not go thirsty. But more importantly neither will I. 

Fritz’s battle with the government hit’s close to home for me. I also had a battle with church people and a city government that wanted to close down my little neighborhood tavern in Baxter Springs, Kansas because of the evilness of liqueur and beer. I fought the good fight but eventually grew tired and moved on. Fritz also eventually gave up the good fight, closed his Saloon and headed off to Germany. In a strange twist of ironic fate the “Hall of Fame” Saloon went from selling hard liqueur to selling soda pop after Fritz had left the building.

-The GYPSY- July 7, 2021

“Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!”

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