Archive for the ‘Turvey’s Corner’ Category

Completion of “Hank at the General Store”

April 20, 2020
Hank at Crane’s General Store

The journey from the Caprock fire site to the city of Lubbock took most of the day. Highway 84 was light on traffic and even lighter on motorists willing to pick up a hitchhiker looking like he had just emerged from the wilderness. As evening encroached upon the college town, Hank decided on a quality night’s sleep in a small roadside motel south of town. A shower and clean shirt would also make him look less threatening in public.

The following morning surprised him. Late October in Texas was not what he had known growing up in Missouri. Here, a bright sun-splashed morning with a hint of autumn weather embraced him, not the biting frost he had known all his life this time of year. Crane’s General Store lay on the quiet southern border of Lubbock, the traffic occasional on the farm-to-market road stretched out front. On the south side of the store, a long stretch of cotton field lay, looking like freshly fallen snow. Hank had only read about cotton farming when in school; he had never seen one with his own eyes. To the north of the store, a lenghty stretch of land rolled out flat as a carpet, golden brown under the autumnal sun, the low horizon providing a bright azure sky with no clouds. The cool winds brought acrid smells of tractor exhaust and he saw the rusty Allis-Chalmers chugging along the empty stretch of farm land.

Inside the dim interior of the store, Hank noticed immediately the pot-bellied stove, not yet needed for winter, but already on standby. The brightly clashing colors of canned and cartoned essentials lined the tidied shelves, ready for his restocking before hitting the road again. The sight of the meat counter took Hank way, way back to Proustian remembrances of Marlin’s store down the road from his grandparents’ farm in southeast Missouri. The Marlin family lived in the back of the store, and Hank now noticed a door behind the meat counter that separated the Crane residence from the actual store. It reminded him of the residence he left behind in Turvey’s Corner less than a month ago.

Mrs. Crane (call me Annie) was a gracious soul in her late years, her silver-colored hair stretched tightly back into a neat bun, her white apron already stained from the foods she had been preparing for customers throughout the morning. Conversation with her was warm and inviting, and he learned that this store had been established during World War I, and had never been out of business, handed down through the generations of Cranes living on the southside of Lubbock. Hank had not entered a store such as this since the late 1950’s and the mental journey back into his personal history filled him with a warmth that he needed this particular morning.

Peering at the items beneath the glass, Hank ordered a pair of sandwiches to be prepared, one for now, the other to be wrapped in wax paper for later. Bologna and sharp cheddar cheese were sliced on the old white Hobart machine. The bread also was sliced from a loaf and slathered with mustard and mayonnaise. Each of the pair of sandwiches was completed with a slice of yellow onion, slice of fresh tomato from the garden out back, and some lettuce. Glass bottles of Coke were collected from the big red box at the front of the store. Hank thanked Annie for the warm moment and stepped out to the front porch.

A row of freshly painted Warmack steel lawn chairs lined the shaded portion of the store, waiting for company. Setting down his backpack, Hank settled into one of the chairs, took out one of his sandwiches, and, forgetting to open his Coke, went back into the store to find an opener on the front of the red box. Now, it was time to chew the sandwich slowly and resume his reading of Emerson from the volume of essays the minister gave him a few days ago. “Self-Reliance” titled an essay that Hank thought might be appropriate for this stage of his life’s journey.

Ne te quaesiviris extra.

“Do not seek outside yourself.” Brushing back tears, Hank leaned back, closed his eyes and paused as a wave of cathartic emotion washed over him without warning. Throughout his life, he had harbored an inferiority complex. He never regarded himself as physically attractive, he was not athletic in school and not popular either. From his early childhood, his family had lived in rural settings with no neighborhoods of children with whom to bond and play. Hank, an only child, had spent his childhood years alone, and once entering school, never really knew how to reach out to his classmates. Remaining quiet during class discussions, he listened with envy to his peers answering all questions and bravely leading out with their opinions on literature assigned. And so, to add to his physical appearance and lack of sociability, Hank harbored this notion of being intellectually inferior. Time spent working in the gas station did not improve his social condition; proprietors were mostly old men who talked and laughed with each other, while Hank stood in the background looking on. His entire life was spent measuring himself against the standard of what he saw in others, always concluding that his own spirit had been weighed and found wanting.

And now he was here, seventeen hours from his home, afoot. Why? To think, and not be surrounded by the people he had seen all his life but who never really seemed to see him. Out west, Hank was finding time, space and a feel for destiny. No longer would he have to listen to Mom asking “When are you going to make something of your life?” or Dad commenting that Hank was O.K., just had been sheltered all his life and now had no clue what to do with it. The other day, the Reverend told Hank: “God made you, and God doesn’t make junk. Read Emerson’s Self-Reliance. It’s time to start believing in yourself.”

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men,–that is genius.

One reason Hank was ready to listen to Emerson with his whole heart came from a fact the Reverend had surprised him with in conversation: the reality that Emerson was a nominal student in school, not a class standout by anyone’s standards. In college as well, Emerson did not impress his mentors. What essentially set him apart as an American sage was this indwelling determination that he had quality to share with anyone who would listen. Hank was now listening.

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his.

Emerson was now calling out Hank in the most provocative way. In school all those years, Hank always thought his ideas were wrong and inferior because they did not match what his teachers and peers were saying aloud. Now, for the first time, he was embracing his ideas because they were his. People don’t go out on the open road with no advanced planning. But this is what Hank was doing, right now, and for the first time he was ready to believe in its value.

____________________________________________________________

Thank you readers for your continued encouragement as I work on this new Hank material. I am forced to take a hiatus for a few days . . . I’ll explain later. I hope to return soon with new stories and a new painting to continue the Hank saga.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Hank at the General Store

April 16, 2020
?

Good morning, blog readers. I’ve been away from posting the last few days, working on a new segment of my Hank series. I am posting the story below with a painting I did from my days staying in the residence of an old general store. It has inspired me to create such a story for the Hank cycle. The new painting I am creating to illustrate Hank sitting and thinking in front of the general store is still very undeveloped and not ready to put on view. As it shapes up, I will be posting the progress of it, and most likely editing this story further.

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The journey from the Caprock fire site to the city of Lubbock took most of the day. Highway 84 was light on traffic and even lighter on motorists willing to pick up a hitchhiker looking like he had just emerged from the wilderness. As evening encroached upon the college town, Hank decided on a quality night’s sleep in a small roadside motel south of town. A shower and clean shirt would also make him look less threatening in public.

The following morning surprised him. Late October in Texas was not what he had known growing up in Missouri. Here, a bright sun-splashed morning with a hint of autumn weather embraced him, not the biting frost he had known all his life this time of year. Crane’s General Store lay on the quiet southern border of Lubbock, the traffic occasional on the farm-to-market road stretched out front. On either side of the store, long stretches of farm and pastureland lay out flat as a carpet. The southern stretch, a cotton field, looked as though it were covered in freshly fallen snow under the autumnal sun, the low horizon providing a bright azure sky with no clouds. The cool winds brought acrid smells of tractor exhaust and he saw the rusty Allis-Chalmers chugging along the barren field north of the store.

Inside the dim interior of the store, Hank noticed immediately the pot-bellied stove, not yet needed for winter, but already on standby. The brightly clashing colors of canned and cartoned essentials lined the tidied shelves, ready for his restocking before hitting the road again. The sight of the meat counter took Hank way, way back to Proustian remembrances of Marlin’s store down the road from his grandparents’ farm in southeast Missouri. The Marlin family lived in the back of the store, and Hank now noticed a door behind the meat counter that separated the Crane residence from the actual store. It reminded him of the residence he left behind in Turvey’s Corner less than a month ago.

Mrs. Crane (call me Annie) was a gracious soul in her late years, her silver-colored hair stretched tightly back into a neat bun, her white apron already stained from the foods she had been preparing for customers throughout the morning. Conversation with her was warm and inviting, and he learned that this store had been established during World War I, and had never been out of business, handed down through the generations of Cranes living on the southside of Lubbock. Hank had not entered a store such as this since the late 1950’s and the mental journey back into his personal history filled him with a warmth that he needed this particular morning.

Peering at the items beneath the glass, Hank ordered a pair of sandwiches to be prepared, one for now, the other to be wrapped in wax paper for later. Bologna and sharp cheddar cheese were sliced on the old white Hobart machine. The bread also was sliced from a loaf and slathered with mustard and mayonnaise. Each of the pair of sandwiches was completed with a slice of yellow onion, a slice of fresh tomato from the garden out back, and some lettuce. Glass bottles of Coke were collected from the big red box at the front of the store. Hank thanked Annie for the warm moment and stepped out to the front porch.

A row of freshly painted Warmack steel lawn chairs lined the shaded portion of the store, waiting for company. Setting down his backpack, Hank settled into one of the chairs, took out one of his sandwiches, and, forgetting to open his Coke, went back into the store to find an opener on the front of the red box. Now, it was time to chew the sandwich slowly and resume his reading of Emerson from the volume of essays the minister gave him a few days ago. “Self-Reliance” titled an essay that Hank thought could be appropriate for this stage of his life’s journey.

Ne te quaesiviris extra.

“Do not seek outside yourself.” Brushing back tears, Hank paused as a wave of cathartic emotion overtook him without warning. Throughout his life, he had harbored an inferiority complex. He never regarded himself as physically attractive, he was not athletic in school and not popular either. From his early childhood, his family had lived in rural settings with no neighborhoods of children with whom to bond and play. Hank, an only child, had spent his childhood years alone, and once entering school, never really knew how to reach out to his classmates. Remaining quiet during class discussions, he listened with envy to his peers answering all questions and bravely leading out with their opinions on literature assigned. And so, to add to his physical appearance and lack of sociability, Hank harbored this notion of being intellectually inferior. Time spent working in the gas station did not improve his social condition; proprietors were all old men who talked and laughed with each other, while Hank stood in the background looking on. His entire life was spent measuring himself against the standard of what he saw in others, always concluding that his own spirit had been weighed and found wanting.

And now he was here, seventeen hours from his home, afoot. Why? To think, and not be surrounded by the people he had seen all his life but who never really seemed to see him. Out west, Hank was finding time, space and a feel for destiny. No longer would he have to listen to Mom asking “When are you going to make something of your life?” or Dad commenting that Hank was O.K., just had been sheltered all his life and now had no clue what to do with it. The other day, the Reverend told Hank: “God made you, and God doesn’t make junk. Read Emerson’s Self-Reliance. It’s time to start believing in yourself.”

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men,–that is genius.

One reason Hank was ready to listen to Emerson with his whole heart came from a fact the Reverend had surprised him with in conversation: the reality that Emerson was a nominal student in school, not a class standout by anyone’s standards. In college as well, Emerson did not impress his mentors. What essentially set him apart as an American sage was this indwelling determination that he had quality to share with anyone who would listen. Hank was now listening.

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his.

Emerson was now calling out Hank in the most provocative way. In school all those years, Hank always thought his ideas were wrong and inferior because they did not match what his teachers and peers were saying aloud. Now, for the first time, he was embracing his ideas because they were his. People don’t go out on the open road with no advanced planning. But this is what Hank was doing, right now, and for the first time he was ready to believe in its value.

________________________________

More later . . . thanks for reading and please check out my website at www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Westward Wanderings with Hank

April 11, 2020

Good morning. I’m thrilled to announce I have broken new ground with a watercolor of Hank enjoying coffee by the fire (written in the previous blog). The painting is underway, but there isn’t enough to show viewers just yet. However, my mind keeps wandering while painting, and so another Hank story has taken shape. I’m going to share it now–the events preceding Hank’s coffee by the fire. When we read a novel, we enjoy the linear progression of events. However, in many cases, the author did not write it that way. More often than not, many scenes were written out, and the progression was arranged before the final draft and publication. These words from N. Scott Momaday say it much better than I ever could:

I perceive the writings herein as the pieces of a whole, each one the element of an intricate but unified design. They are the facets of a verbal prism, if you will, patterns like the constellations.

N. Scott Momaday, Man Made of Words

And so it is with Hank. He only showed up in my writings weeks ago, though some of his stories were written years ago. Now I am piecing together and editing these into a narrative, all the while skipping back and forth from future to past to present. One day I hope to have a book of these stories and illustrations organized to share. Meanwhile, I’m glad to release the fragments as they emerge.

The draft of the following story immediately precedes the events I shared in Hank’s life yesterday, and the painting posted above is a plein air watercolor I did a couple of years ago in Caprock Canyon.

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Hank thanked the driver who picked him up on Insterstate 20 as he got out of the sedan in Sweetwater, Texas. Hank didn’t feel too self-conscious about his appearance, knowing he had showered and put on clean clothes just this morning before saying Good-bye to Uncle Leo in Dallas. Catching the eye of a local old-timer on the sidewalk, Hank said he just hit town and was looking for a decent place to eat.

The old gentleman said “Ya can’t beat Mrs. Lizzie Allen at the freight depot over there” he said, gesturing toward the next intersection, a freight depot at Broadway and Oak. Hank thanked the gentleman and in a few moments found himself seated at a small cafe table. Mrs. Allen not only served up the best fried chicken, fresh okra, corn on the cob, with mashed potatoes and gravy; she also sat down after pouring him fresh coffee and opened up the conversation:

Where are you off to, good lookin’? Hank realized his large backpack identified himself as transient.

“Don’t really know for sure. Left St. Louis three weeks ago and decided to see what was out west.”

“Well, if you want civilization as well as wide open spaces, I’d recommend Lubbock. Just go a little further west on 20 then veer north on 84. Pretty countryside if you like mesas and canyons.”

“Well, I think I know where I’m going now. I love your coffee. Would you happen to know how to make this over a campfire? I tried it a few weeks ago and didn’t much like what I swallowed.”

His stomach filled, a ham sandwich wrapped in wax paper from Mrs. Allen tucked neatly inside his pack, and instructions on how to make cowboy coffee, Hank was ready now to head up Highway 84.

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More later. Thanks for reading, and please check out my website at http://www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog knowing I am not alone.

Caprock Enchantment

April 10, 2020

Good morning, friends. West Texas temperatures are dropping, and it appears that we will experience some winter weather over Easter. This morning I finished a first draft of my continuing Hank saga and wanted to post it before starting my next painting to illustrate it. I anticipate some changes to the story while painting, but decided to let you in on a sneak preview. Thanks always for reading.

Hank felt rested tonight. After packing his gear to depart Dallas this morning, he made a last-minute decision to invest some of his money in a bus ticket. Hopping a Greyhound at the downtown terminal, he rolled westward for hours, dozing in his seat most of the way. Getting out in Abilene, he then thumbed a pair of rides further west on Interstate 20, getting out where state highway 84 branched northward into the caprock escarpment. Once the territory began taking on the look of western movies, Hank decided to get out where there were no towns, trek off the highway several miles, following an arroyo back between a pair of plateaus. Dropping his backpack, taking off his hat and gazing across the afternoon terrain, Hank welcomed the caress of the cooling west winds in his face. He was glad he decided to leave his suitcase with Uncle Leo. The backpack carried all he needed for travel, and Dallas, for the meantime, could be his homing site. Leo seemed lonely, and Hank felt a need to check in with him from time to time.

October was cool in west Texas, but not yet cold. Hank decided this narrow place nested between two cliffs would make a nice bedroom for the night. Time to make a fire. Gathering clumps of dried grasses, he fashioned a small bowl and lined the bottom with cotton balls soaked in Vaseline that he kept stored in 35mm film cannisters in one of his backpack pouches. Then we walked about, gathering small sticks and dried branches and a larger chunk of wood that may have once been a fence post. Hank was glad he had packed a hatchet left behind by old Philosopher Bob back home. He made quick work, chopping the fence post down to several chunks.

While Hank was wandering and gathering, his mind continued to recall snatches of conversation from yesterday’s time with Reverend Elton. Conversion. Hank was startled that the minister regarded him as thoughtful, perhaps philosophical. As a parting gift of goodwill, Elton handed Hank a small volume of Emerson’s essays and encouraged him to read them thoughtfully while on the road. Before falling asleep on the bus, Hank read the following from Emerson’s Nature:

To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars.

The fact is this: Hank has always been alone. But reading the Emerson passage made him realize for the first time that solitude was not a scourge when he was on the road or under the stars; it was a scourge in Turvey’s Corner, where he felt that he had never fit, not at school, not at the gas station, not at church, not even at gatherings among friends. Hank was solitary, and now it was alright.

Laying his gatherings down in a pile beside the nest, Hank opened one of the pouches of his backpack and drew out a magnesium rod. Bending over the nest and striking the rod with his Bowie knife, he watched sparks shower into the nest until the cotton balls combusted. Blowing on the small flame while sheltering it with his hat from the west Texas evening winds, he kept feeding dried grasses, then the small twigs, and then carefully stacked the chunks of fence post.

The minister’s voice again was in Hank’s ears: “Hank, I really believe that you are about to embark on a life-changing odyssey. I don’t know if you’ve read or taken an interest in Homer’s Odyssey. It might mean more to you when you’re thirty than twenty-one. At any rate, Odysseus, after being away from home ten years because of that bloody war, spent the next ten years of his life on an odyssey, a journey if you please, trying to find his way back home, to Ithaca. High school students don’t generally find the work very relevant, but the older we get, the more we realize that our life is a journey seeking our genuine home, the center of the self. It is a journey of self-discovery. I believe all humans have that restlessness in their souls, but few act on it. It seems to me that you are now acting on it; you are setting out on a journey away from your temporal home into a land of dizzying freedom, with no one to talk to but yourself, and whatever great minds from the past you care to visit through their writings. Away from the clatter of meaningless gossip you hear among your daily peers, you now can enter the great Silence of the West, gaze into the stars at night, and with no appointments or deadlines, determine just exactly who you are and what you want from life. My advice to you is, don’t come back till you reach Ithaca.”

Once the fire was well underway, Hank pulled out his canteen and coffee pot, poured in the water along with the ground coffee, placed the pot on a flat stone in the fire and waited for the mixture to come to a rolling boil. He also fished out a can of Beanie Weenies picked up at a small grocery in Abilene, poured the contents into a camping pan, and set it in the ashes to warm. After ten minutes, he then poured a little canteen water down the spout and around the inner edges of the coffeepot to settle the grounds to the bottom.

Under the chandelier of stars in the west Texas sky, Hank tasted the best coffee he had ever brewed, and sat back in the darkness, listening to coyotes yipping in the distance. Though several miles from highway 84, he could still barely hear the noise of an occasional truck droning along. Solitude. Supper was finally ready.

In the embrace of the caprock night, Hank continued pondering the ideas brought forward by Pastor Elton.

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I’m feeling a genuine renewal, working daily on this Hank story and finding new ideas to paint. Today I plan to begin the 8 x 10″ watercolor illustrating the draft of the story posted today. I hope you are enjoying the story, and look forward to sharing the painting as it takes shape.

When you get the chance, please check out my website at http://www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

In the Minister’s Study (continued)

April 9, 2020

Hank was intrigued. Conversion? Where exactly was this conversation with the Reverend going?

The minister continued: “Jesus said, ‘Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'”

“Yeah, I’ve heard that all my life. But I never got what it means about becoming as little children. And no one ever explained it, I guess assuming we all knew what that meant. But I never did.”

“I’m not sure your preacher or Sunday School teachers knew or even thought about it either. I’m suspicious that folks are more comfortable memorizing and quoting scripture than studying its message. I never really gave this scripture much critical thought myself until my Professor of Theology told us one day: ‘You future clergymen are so obsessed with converting souls when you should be converting minds.’”

“O.K., there you go again. I’m not following you when you talk of conversion, implying that I’m experiencing such a thing right now.”

“You said you’ve read Thoreau. You should consider also reading Emerson, who was Thoreau’s mentor, along with Wordsworth, a major influence on Emerson. All three of these divines argued for the primacy of the child’s innocence and sense of wonder. It seems that adulthood as well as formal education succeed in driving the innocence and imagination clean out of a child as he matures. That is unfortunate, the loss of wonder, of curiosity, the brimming of the imagination. Wordsworth wrote that the child is father to the man. I believe that. And I concur with Einstein when he argued that imagination is more important than knowledge.”

“Well, you’ve given me quite a load to think about, and I appreciate it. Pardon me for saying it, but you don’t strike me as the typical man of the cloth.”

“That’s probably because of the climate of my generation. In the fifties and sixties, we were generally suspicious of authority and enforced conformity. It seems to me that your generation is more comfortable with rule-following. Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs—I think I learned more genuine theology from them than I did from Concordia Seminary.”

“You went to Concordia? I’m from St. Louis!”

“I was aware of that, but not sure that you—a Baptist—knew of my seminary and its theological persuasion. My Germanic heritage has made Lutheranism an easy fit for me generally, though I’ve been more sympathetic to the critical historical methodology the Germans have been infamous for applying since the eighteenth century. I sense that the general trend many refer to as ‘modernism’ is going to split the seminary pretty soon. I’m only glad I’m no longer there to take sides.”

“As a Baptist, I never heard mention of what you call modernism.”

“That’s not my label. Those who are suspicious of it, wishing to cling to traditional, conventional church standards use that word. If you haven’t gotten into it, you probably will if you stay inside the church life. I will go on record to say that, though I still consider myself a legitimate Lutheran in faith and practice, I owe a great debt to the outspoken minds of the fifties and sixties. My position is this—if you don’t understand the issues of existentialism, then you don’t really understand the twentieth century. But I guess that’s for another time, if you and I continue these chats.”

“Well, I do plan to leave in the next day or so. But I really believe I’ll be back, after I’ve had some time to digest what we’ve talked about today.”

“I hope you do come back. And if you do, please visit our church. I think you’d get a kick out of our organist, Linda Sterner. She’s probably got hurt feelings because I came down hard on her last Sunday for playing out of a Baptist Hymnal. I just feel that their chosen hymns lack the foundational depth than the ones Luther composed. But Linda is a free thinker and reminds me much of myself when I was clawing my way through the sixties. I did notice her carrying a volume of Ginsberg poems with her Bible a couple of weeks ago.”

“Well, thank you again, Elton. I believe I best be on my way.”

“It’s been my pleasure. Let me say one more thing, if I may: You say you are going on the road because you have not yet had a life. You complain that you haven’t traveled more than forty miles from home. I’d like to point out to you that the philosopher Immanuel Kant never traveled more than forty miles from his hometown either, yet his powerful ideas shifted the course of Western thought. Though not a traveler, he was fond of geography and read books on travel. Lecturing as Professor of Philosophy, he held his students spellbound, blending natural history, literature, physics and astronomy into his philosophical discourses. He truly lived a life of the mind. And I’m convinced that you are ready to convert now to that kind of a life. No doubt your travels will enrich you, filling you with new stories and insights, but Emerson reminded us that ‘though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.’ Whatever you do, just don’t stop reading, don’t narrow your interests, and please never stop questioning. Your greatest resource in your life’s odyssey is the imagination and curiosity you carry in your own mind. Never sell that short. And I wish you good fortune.”

I hope you enjoy this latest installment of the Hank cycle. My watercolor supplies were delivered today, and I’m excited about beginning the next painting and promise to keep you updated.

Thanks for reading, and please check out my website at www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Church and Introspection in Dallas

April 8, 2020
Our Savior Lutheran Church, est. 1947

Uncle Leo invited Hank to attend church with him every Sunday he was there for his three-week stay. On the final Sunday, Hank decided it would be polite to comply. Since Aunt Hattie died three years ago, Leo continued attending church alone, and Hank finally decided that refusing his invitations was insensitive.

Having been soaked in the Southern Baptist ethos of Turvey’s Corner, Hank remembered with the least affection the compulsory ecclesiastical attendance and participation enforced by his parents. Three weeks ago, lying under the stars on the Oklahoma plains, Hank suddenly realized it was Sunday, and felt more stirred in that moment than he had ever known in fifteen years of church attendance, including revival services.

Our Savior Lutheran Church sat on the corner of West Clarendon & Gilpin, a comfortable walk from Uncle Leo’s house. Hank was not accustomed to the liturgical nature of Lutheran worship, having known a comparatively folksy environment in the church of his own upbringing. But he did take notice of the organist Linda, thinking for a moment that perhaps he shouldn’t be so quick to leave town. He had anticipated going on the road in the morning.

Reverend Elton Bauerkemper was an overweight, bespectacled minister who fired a rather sustained fusillade of verbal fire and brimstone across the seated congregation, something they seemed to enjoy. Hank himself had had more than his share of that in his own past. But there was something else about this minister’s demeanor that attracted Hank, and he wasn’t sure exactly what it was. Perhaps it was a glimmer of intellectual authenticity within his words, or maybe it was something in his eye, something that telegraphed a man sensitive to the needs of individuals. Whatever it was, Hank decided before the sermon concluded that he desired an audience with the Reverend.

Hank didn’t leave in the morning. Instead, Tuesday afternoon found him seated in the minister’s study, surrounded by an imposing library of volumes comprised of theology, biblical studies, philosophy, literature, art history and natural science. Hank was also impressed that the study featured a pair of wingback chairs, and Reverend Bauerkemper (please, call me Elton) settled into one of the chairs instead of sitting behind his desk like a judge or attorney.

“So, Hank, what’s your story?”

“I don’t really have one, that’s why I’m on the road.”

“Leonard told me you were ‘passing through.’ You worked awhile, stuck some money in your pocket, and now you’re ready to roll again?”

“That’s right.”

“So, you don’t have a story, is that your point? Are you out looking for the ‘Meaning of Life?’”

“Well, I’m twenty-five and never traveled more than forty miles from my hometown. I never amounted to anything in school and only got into junior college because I showed promise as an artist. A few weeks back, an old man I always referred to as The Philosopher died. He was ninety. Old Bob remains the most remarkable man I’ve ever known because he was full of stories, having traveled broadly before returning to his hometown to live out his final twenty years. You could write a book from the stories he shared, and now that he’s gone, there doesn’t seem to be anybody else for me to look up to, and frankly, I’m afraid of living out a boring life in Turvey’s Corner and dying with nothing to remember or repeat.”

“Hank, I’m going to be straight with you. I talk to members of my congregation in confidence three-to-five times a week. They all have the same concerns—marital issues, adolescent rebellion, financial indiscretions—nobody seems to express any kind of awareness of a life of the mind.”

“Life of the mind? Explain.”

“Have you ever read Thoreau or Emerson?”

“Thoreau, yes. Walden. Emerson, no.”

“Those men lived a life of the mind—they didn’t have to travel and raise trouble to live a meaningful life. They drew their inspiration from books, but believed that they had their own unique and personal insights just as potent as the ones written by great authors who had gone before. The life of the mind occurs when one takes reading seriously and engrafts personal insights onto the ideas read. And the more they read, the more they weave these disparate threads of thoughts, inserting their own observations as well.”

“I guess I’ve never considered that. In school, I was always among the quiet, dumb crowd, sitting in the back of the room, letting the smart ones in class answer all the questions.”

“Yes, and I’ll lay you a week’s salary that the ‘smart ones’ only knew the answers to questions raised by the teacher. Did you ever think that anyone among your class elite ever had an original thought, or even bounced the ideas of two different authors off of each other?”

“No, I didn’t. And of course I myself never even thought of any of that, until this moment.”

“Hank, I truly believe you are experiencing a conversion, right now.”

“Oh, I’ve been baptized. Twice, actually. The first time as a ten-year-old. I didn’t know what I was doing, so I did it again when I was seventeen.”

“And still didn’t know what you were doing.”

“Uh, yeah, I guess you have a point. But what is this conversion you’re talking about now?”

(to be continued . . .)

I’m getting a kick out of this chapter of the Hank saga. I promise more as it comes to light. Thanks for reading and please check out my website http://www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Working on the Hank Cycle

April 4, 2020

Wow, It’s a frigid, 30-degree temperature Satuday morning in west Texas! The corona caution has us staying indoors anyway; it’s just easier to do when it’s this cold outdoors. I have started my next painting of the Hank Odyssey, but there is not enough to show for a meaningful photograph at this time. So I have decided to post my Hank series as it stands to-date:

Jerry’s Texaco

Over-worked and under-rested, the aging men of Turvey’s Corner began their early-morning drive to St. Louis, twenty-three miles down Highway 30. Around the first bend of the highway out of town, they found a welcoming stop at Jerry’s Texaco. Bell cables clanged as the sedans rolled up to the gas pumps, and Hank, the young attendant, pushed aside his college books to hustle out and service the customers. The aroma of coffee brewing inside usually lured the men out of their cars and inside for caffeine stimulation and the exchange of local news stories. Visits here always seemed to make the workday go a little better. Hank enjoyed the joviality of the men jostling with one another in good humor. At the same time he knew that none of them were interested in the contents of the books that absorbed his attention, so he remained quiet but always near at hand in order to grant whatever requests were made.

Six Subjects in Search of a Painter

Night descended and Hank was up late again, bedding down in the storeroom of the old filling station.  He had closed the place at dark but was too engrossed in his college studies to pack up the books and head for his garage apartment in the next county.  So, with the owner’s permission, he would spend another night in the back of the station amidst the smells of gasoline, oil, pit grease and the grime that had built up over two generations.  The Texaco station was anchored on historic Route 66 on the outskirts of Turvey’s Corner.  Interstate commerce had all but obliterated the sleepy town, and as soon as Hank graduated from the community college, he would depart as well.  Local townspeople and patrons had no knowledge or regard for the things that stirred the soul of this young man.  His volumes of Thoreau, Frost, Whitman and Twain had opened to him worlds beyond this community. 

His few camping possessions stored in this room (Griswold frying pan, stove top percolator, kerosene lantern, Maxwell House tin) were the tether that kept him bound to the wild.  He would be packing up his gear soon and leaving without notice.  It was time to emerge from this cocoon and embrace the world calling out to him.

Hank was restless. Last night after he closed the filling station, he packed up all his gear in the back storeroom and moved it to his apartment–the residential part of an old general store that had recently re-opened as the town’s bakery. His rent would be due tomorrow, and he had the strange notion that he would not be here any longer.

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Taking out his watercolor pad on a whim, he decided to sketch and paint the doorknob separating his residence from the bakery where he could hear the workers scuttling about the kitchen just beyond the wall. As he focused his gaze on the doorknob, his mind drifted back over Homer’s Odyssey that he had been reading in recent weeks, and he sensed a wanderlust coming over him.

What Lies Beyond the Door

Hank continued to paint deep into the night, long after he heard the crew in the bakery clean up the store, lock the door and leave him to the approaching hours of silence. As he continued to contemplate, gazing at the doorknob, he thought about the world beyond the door, and determined that come sunrise, he would be on the other side. Like Odysseus, he would be seeking a return to his primal identity, to Ithaca, to a place he could call home.

Hank’s Odyssey (still in progress)

The crisp October winds were just as delicious as the palette of Indian reds, assorted greens and bright yellows punctuating the foliage springing from the limestone bluffs towering behind him. Hank had packed his belongings and departed his apartment at daybreak. Now with Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” surging through his being, he stood alongside Route 66 on the edge of Turvey’s Corner and said good-bye to the town that had cradled him since childhood:

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing . . .

As Hank stood with his thumb out, waiting for any willing passing vehicle to pull over and pick him up, he sensed that he was not alone; a spiritual Presence seemed to be watching his every move. Thinking back over the history of Turvey’s Corner that had occupied his mind in recent months, he thought about the Osage warriors that massacred the first family to move onto the site of his current town.

In 1795, Adam Turvey had moved his family from the Kentucky wilderness to settle into the hills ringing the north end of this small town. Osage warriors massacred the Turveys one day in March of 1800. The sketchy details claim some sort of dispute over the borrowing of horses. The grisly details of the slaughter haunted Hank from his childhood. But this morning, as he stood along the highway, he felt the spirit of the Osage looking down over him with approval. Hank was leaving a town where he felt he had never belonged, and as he departed, he felt a kindred spirit that understood full well the feeling of not belonging and the restless search for a place to call home.

Hank Under Oklahoma Skies

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Walt Whitman, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”

Reclining against his backpack, Hank savored the warmth of the fire that neutralized the chill of the October night. He had left Turvey’s Corner just this morning, but thanks to a pair of truckers, he had managed to put nearly twelve hours between himself and the town he just left. Finding wide open plains west of the town of Vinita, he now rested his stiff body and gazed in wonder at the millions of stars filling the deep night sky. Slowly drifting toward a satisfying slumber after his fireside snack of S’mores, he overheard the words he had just read from Kerouac’s On the Road in the glow of the firelight:

Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.

Deep in sleep, Hank relived some of his most cherished memories of boating and fishing on Big River south of Turvey’s Corner. One day he would return to fish his favorite hole at the base of the huge bluff his friend had christened “Rock of David.”

(Now you know the subject on which I am working currently, and I hope to publish pictures of the in-progress painting soon . . .)

Thanks for reading, and please check out my website http://www.davidtrippart.com

I paint in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Resuming the Hank Chapter for Turvey’s Corner

March 31, 2020
Hank on the Road

There was only one firm spot in my world at that moment, one solid, endurable thought: I did not wish to go on the way I had been going.

Peter London, Drawing Closer to Nature: Making Art in Dialogue with the Natural World

This new painting has been in my blood for days, and finally I have a start on it. It marks the continuation of my work on the Turvey’s Corner 63050 series I began in 1999. The subject focuses on Hank as he leaves Turvey’s Corner in search of meaning for his previously sheltered, uneventful life. The quote above from Peter London could well have been authored by Hank himself late that night in the filling station when he decided he was leaving town in the morning.

Hank is my alter ego. I left home in 1972 to enter college, in that day feeling just as lost and rootless, and I never returned to my hometown to live. Hank, according to my Turvey’s Corner series, leaves home after a short time studying at the community college and working nights in the filling station. As he hitchhikes along Route 66 he senses a Presence watching over him. High on the hill overlooking him, I am going to place an Osage warrior on an Appaloosa mount. Osage Indians massacred the first settlers of Turvey’s Corner in March 1800. The spirit watching over him now is the spirit of the Native American, of Homer, of John Muir, of any wandering mendicant seeking a place to anchor his life.

As the coronavirus continues to keep us close to home, I am pleased to have a sense of purpose in working on my art. One day I am confident that I will re-enter our community, and when I do, I intend to have a large body of new work to put in my galleries and festival booths. If there is any upside to this Shelter-at-Home lifestyle, it is the freedom to pursue my art with no appointments or expectations binding me.

Thanks for reading and please check out my website www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Turvey’s Corner–the next chapter

March 28, 2020

I perceive the writings herein as the pieces of a whole, each one the element of an intricate but unified design. They are the facets of a verbal prism, if you will, patterns like the constellations.

N. Scott Momaday, The Man Made of Words

On this beautiful Saturday morning, I am thrilled to announce the beginning of a new chapter on the project I’ve worked on for years–I am hoping to publish a book titled Turvey’s Corner 63050. The Missouri town is fictional as is the zip code, lying between the place of my hometown High Ridge (63049) and where I attended church and school, House Springs (63051). My series has already featured the gas station I am naming Jerry’s Texaco, and the young attendant inside whom I’ve named Hank. Like the Momaday quote above, I have been piecing stories and paintings together for about two decades now, hoping to weave a story where readers might find a space to occupy.

Attendant Not on Duty
Six Subjects in Search of a Painter

The still life above has been painted to depict the store room of the gas station where Hank sometimes spends the night after closing the store.

Hank was up late again, bedding down in the storeroom of the old filling station.  He had closed Jerry’s Texaco after the last of the Turvey’s Corner work force drifted in and out, their work in the city done for another day. Hank himself could have called it a day but was too engrossed in his college studies to pack up the books and head for his garage apartment in the next county. So, with the owner’s permission, he would spend another night in the back storeroom where he kept his cot, amidst the smells of gasoline, oil, pit grease and the grime that had built up over two generations.

The Texaco station was anchored on the first bend of the highway out of Turvey’s Corner. Interstate commerce had all but obliterated this sleepy town, and as soon as this young man graduated from the community college, he would depart as well. The local patrons had no knowledge or regard for the things that stirred the soul of this young dreamer. His volumes of Thoreau, Frost, Whitman and Twain had opened to him worlds beyond this community. And his few camping possessions stored in this back room (Griswold frying pan, stove top percolator, kerosene lantern, Maxwell House tin) were the tether that kept him bound to the wild. He would be packing up his gear in a week and leaving without notice. It was time to emerge from this cocoon and embrace the world calling out to him.

My next painting for Turvey’s Corner will feature Hank hitchhiking his way out of town. As he begins this odyssey, his mind will be preoccupied with the roots of Turvey’s Corner. In March 1800, Osage warriors massacred the family who built the first cabin in this town (this historical record can be researched under the massacre at House Springs, Missouri). As Hank hitchhikes, he feels a presence watching, and imagines an Osage warrior overseeing his odyssey with approval, knowing full well the trials of a new beginning.

Between the cities of High Ridge and House Springs is an outcropping of rock, where U. S. Highway 30 was carved out of the hills. My new painting will use this composition of the site that I painted years ago.

High Ridge Bluff

Hank will be at the base of this rock, his thumb out hoping to hitch a ride. On the hilltop I will place an Osage warrior looking down at the traveler.

During this time of staying indoors due to the scare of the virus, I’m excited to be working on the next chapter of my project.

Thanks for reading, and please check out my website: http://www.davidtrippart.com

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

Waiting out the Rain at Edom Art Festival

October 11, 2019

The Shed Cafe

Watercolor of my “Second Office”

Outisde it is 45 degrees and raining. Fortunately for me, The Shed Cafe is adjacent to the festival grounds, so I have a warm, dry place to wait for the rain to subside before I set up the tent for this weekend’s Edom Art Festival. Forecast calls for 0% precipitation tomorrow, so my heart is gladdened. Today’s rain is expected to stop in the next hour or so and I can get back to work. Meanwhile I am enjoying this coffee on a cold morning.

I am adding an artist’s chapter to my cycle of paintings and stories for this new series Turvey’s Corner 63050. Following is my true story to accompany the painting above:

At sixty, the artist came to realize that life comes heavier and wearier. The Edom Art Festival offered to him his first crack at a juried, high-end art venue. Setting up his booth on a chilly October Friday, he thought over all the ways he could trim expenses for the weekend. By nightfall, he decided to postpone hotel rental until the final night, thus guaranteeing a good night’s rest before breaking down at festival’s end. So, tonight he would sleep in the back of his Jeep Grand Cherokee parked on the perimeter of the festival grounds, at the edge of the deep forest. The Jeep did not offer the most comfortable sleeping accommodations, and most of the night was given to tossing and turning before the sleep of exhaustion finally conquered his constitution.

Waking at dawn, he stumbled out of his vehicle and trudged up the hill through the darkened festival grounds. The morning was chilly and foggy as he walked past row after row of shuttered booths. Rounding the privacy fence at the end of the pasture, he entered the parking lot of the Shed Café and his heart leapt with joy at the sight of the eatery silhouetted against the dawn sky, smoke billowing from the chimney, and the crisp October winds bringing to him the aroma of coffee and frying bacon. What a splendid morning to encounter! With breakfast finished, he found a comfortable seat on the Shed porch, opened his journal and poured out his gratitude on the pages while watching the sun rise over the distant tree line. The festival was going to be a sublime experience.

photo of early morning Shed

The Shed, Photographed years ago when I Rounded the Privacy Fence

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Lunch at The Shed today, waiting out the Rain

All my years spent at the Edom Art Festival and The Shed are warm memories indeed, and I am grateful to be invited back this year for another round. The rain outside appears to have stopped, so I have a house to build!

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.