Ten writers for children. All with something to say.

10/6/10

Portrait of the Author's Father















My dad was a welder, a tree trimmer, a mechanic, and a brave and adventuresome spirit. And although he wasn't an artist, he always encouraged me to pursue whatever interested me, whether it was drawing, writing, or teaching school.

When I was in first grade, the PTA held an art contest for Father's Night (back in the 60's there had to be a special night set aside in order to get the fathers to attend PTA). All the students drew pictures of our dads. I remember working hard on my drawing (it was a contest after all!) and even annoying my teacher with repeated requests for a forest green (not regular green) crayon so I could get my dad's eyes just right.

My dad wasn't big on PTA meetings but he knew this was important to me, so he dressed up in his one and only suit and headed to school. When the first grade fathers lined up with their portraits, my drawing was chosen as the winner (it must have been that forest green crayon or the accurate portrayal of my dad's wrinkled forehead). When he came home late that night, my dad woke me up to show me the prizes we had won: a pen and pencil set for him, the Bumper Book of Poetry for me.

It's a very happy memory.

8 comments:

Edie said...

David,
What a wonderful memory! And I don't believe I've ever seen anyone with forest green eyes.

Christy said...

Sweetest series of pictures ever! Now that we all know you a little better we can appreciate your early start in competitions. That's one impressive portrait! I can just imagine your intensity and concentration as you colored the eyes and wrinkled brow. Congratulations on winning, engaging your father thoroughly in your creative endeavers and school life, and especially in finding your path so early.

Mark said...

Great story, David. You do seem to have an uncanny knack for winning contests! And what a great memory about an early art project and how it tied into your relationship with your father. Thanks for sharing the story and the pictures!

Lauren said...

I can just picture your first grade self seriously drawing your dad's forest green eyes-- and the wrinkled brow- very observant for a first grader. I can understand how this portrait would be so meaningful on so many levels.

betsy woods said...

Dear David,
I wish I could express how this moves me. When you speak of your father's forest green eyes, I experience my own's crystal blue eyes. Grateful and grateful and grateful.

David LaRochelle said...

That is one of the sad things about the later photos of my dad, Betsy; the alertness of my dad's forest green eyes was gone as he eventually succumbed to Alzheimer's. I don't like to look at those pictures, but would rather remember him when he was alive and ever ready for adventures.

Diane Adams said...

David, I am so glad that you won that contest!! Thank you for sharing your memories with us. What a great relationship you must have had with your dad.

Vicki said...

Each of these portraits is a story in itself, David. Having your father take you into a photo booth for that young picture, your first grade drawing (really? it's GOOD), and the two of you as grown men. Thanks for sharing ... your story is quite moving.