Thursday, December 22, 2016

Altenatives Too

A Nash Metropolitan hauling a pop-up trailer trundles past the Garland Avenue Benewah Creamery Milk Bottle in Spokane, Washington.
Pop-up trailers are a lightweight and compact alternative to regular trailers. Fiberglass and canvas, however, do not provide sufficient protection from ravenous bears.

Two Benewah milk bottle stores were built in Spokane in the mid 1930s. Benewah Creamery had the milk contract at Westview Elementary School when I transferred in the mid sixties. A half-pint glass bottle with crimped paper lid cost 3 cents. (This was back when keyboards had cents signs but no exclamation points on them and no one had even heard of a tilde!)

This ad from a North Central High School  year book shows the bottle in the early 1970s. I have vague and potentially false memories of a neon Indian chief on the Garland Avenue building. Vague and false memories are par for the course in this project.

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Recurring Theme

Trailers Haunt My Work of the Past


Etching Suite (portholes)

Etching Suite (awnings)

Etching Suite (behind Grand Central/Fred Meyer)

Tomato Tornado

Tornado Bait

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Close Encounters II

Long before many things were open-all-night Dad would drive until he was literally or figuratively out of gas and then pull over behind a "filling station" where we would sleep until it opened. On one occasion the parking place was perilously close to undetected train tracks. When a freight train blasted by in the wee hours we had a truly rude awakening. Someone (probably Sandi) said it was almost as loud as Kay blowing her nose. 

As recently as 1976 there wasn't a gas station open late in Dillon, Montana. A note on the pump gave a number to call where for an additional $10 an attendant would come and turn on the pump. I made the call, paid the ransom and filled my tank. While I was in the town diner ordering hot chocolate someone siphoned all my newly purchased fuel. I always suspected the gas station attendant in bathrobe and galoshes of the crime. Later that night I narrowly avoided colliding with a jackrabbit in the middle of the road that was as big as a small cow. It might have been a sleep deprivation induced hallucination--or not.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Entertainment System

Our entertainment system consisted of an AM radio and a deck of cards. Occasionally we caught a glimpse of a movie as we sped past a drive-in theater. We pronounced the word theater with emphasis on the middle syllable--just like Jethro Bodine.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Road Kill II

At one time the jackrabbit was seemingly ubiquitous on Western highways. Both the two and three dimensional varieties dotted the landscape. Drawn to highways by the reflective warmth, green vegetation, and the promise of romantic liaisons, the reckless rabbits were sent to the great beyond in large numbers by speeding cars.

Rabbit at Pompey's Pillar

This jackrabbit surveys the sandstone rock formation visited and defaced by Captain William Clark in July, 1806. The outcropping was not named for the Roman general  or the brothel-filled city destroyed by Vesuvius but for Jean Baptiste "Pompy" Charbonneau--the infant son of expedition member Sacagawea.

Now a National Monument the landmark was in private hands until the BLM (Bureau of Land Management, not Black Lives Matter) purchased it from the Foote family in 1991.
Our visit was in the mid to late Sixties. The rock was closed for no apparent reason. We ate cold fried chicken outside the gates.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Road Food

Road Kill and Road Food

Mom would fry chicken the night before a trip and we would eat it cold on the road. If we were in the right geographic region we would get an A&P Spanish Bar. If not, a homemade "hard time" cake (so called because the recipe didn't call for eggs) would do. She would usually bring a package of Fig Newtons because she was the only one who would eat the gritty sad-faced abominations.

I remember waiting in the parking lot for an A&P Store to open and the bitter disappointment when they didn't have a Spanish Bar Cake.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Close Encounters

Witnesses to a tornado often describe it as sounding like a freight train. You know what else sounds like a freight train? A freight train.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Things We Never Did in Our Station Wagon

Stopped Next to the Pool to Light a Lady's Smoke.

Stood on the Tailgate to See Our Friends off on Their Cruise.

Wore Authentic Cowboy Outfits.

Made Grownups Ride in the Very Back.

Gave Unbridled Affection to our Dog.

Wore Big Yellow Hats.

Pulled Off the Big Heist Using Only Arrows for Weapons.

Hunted Foxes (see #1 above).

The unavoidable conclusion? We didn't need a station wagon, we needed an art director.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


A diehard Buick man, Dad gave into the realities of five children and a dog and bought a Chevy Bel Air station wagon with a rear facing third row bench--which made everyone carsick. We usually just laid it flat and rolled around in the back. The car lost a hubcap driving home from the dealer and it was all downhill from there.

"A Chevy is a car, but a Buick is an automobile."

Armadillo detail.

Friday, October 7, 2016


When Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth and Eighteen Wheelers only had 10 Wheels.

All of our personal belongings were festooned with Mayflower inventory stickers as a result of our frequent moves.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Mom's Rock Garden

Not the most obvious or practical endeavor for the mobile family, Mom maintained a rock garden. In the background here is the Utah version c1962.
There is also the slightest glimpse of the trailer parked in the back yard in the upper left corner.

Utah Rock Garden

Precariously Parked to Poach "Purty" Rocks

Rather than a warning, the Falling Rocks sign was seen as an opportunity. We would pull off the road and clamber among the rocks while Mom shouted her instructions and eventual selection from the car.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


This note written on the back of one of the Merced trailer park photos reveals a lot about my mother.
I wondered why some of the photographs showed the trailer all one color and others showed a darker center stripe. Mystery solved.

"We painted the trailer, light & dark blue to match the car. It looks a lot nicer."

My sister says the issue was smell rather than appearance.



Saturday, September 24, 2016

Meanwhile, Back in the Studio...

Working Titles: 
Mid-century Madonna
Madonna of the Trailer Park
The Artist as a Very Young Man

Period trailer advertising images often included short sections of white picket fence to create the impression of hominess. This trailer park in Merced, California had short sections of white picket fence.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Road Trip 5!

Midwest Vintage Trailer Rally, Montello, Wisconsin.
It was like stepping back in time.

Canned hams and streamliners living together in harmony.

Road Trip IV Drip!

Big Sky Twin, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin (NOT Montana).

Road Trip III!

The Route 34 Drive-in Theater, Earlville, Illinois rises majestically from the corn. Route 34 has been renamed the Walter Payton Memorial Highway. The Drive-in has not been renamed.



Road Trip! (part 2)

Next Stop: Cleveland Museum of Art

We head to the museum to pick up a little inspiration. This is a surprisingly nice museum with some fine pieces, many of which I have been teaching with for years. Free admission. Expensive Parking.

A beautiful little Winslow Homer. These are Union soldiers from the American Civil War. Not the uniform you were expecting.

A detail of a Sargent portrait. Often criticized as being too facile and fashionable. An amazing painter.

This Sheeler has been in my Kodak Carousel since about 1979.

Turner burns the houses of Parliament. 

He's the master of grunge.

Van Gogh.

Grant Wood.
I see those same rabbit tracks on my driveway every snowy morning.

The Devil shows up for the Stag at Sharkey's.
(Not supposed to take this picture. Scolded by guard. It was worth it.)