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Sea and Sympathy


Sea and Sympathy

Genealogy Series 2019:

Photography and Mixed media on canvas

20” x 20”


My grandmother was a force.


When the drivers went on strike at her Michigan dairy in the early 50’s, she climbed up on the truck herself and told them to get out of the way or she’d have to run them over. I recall her wearing white go-go boots, long colorful fingernails, and a beehive hairdo by the time she was living in California twenty years later. She had polio as a kid, so one of those shoes had an orthopedic aid, and she limped every day of her life, not slowing her down a bit. She was an excellent cook, although she hated doing it and so only did it on big holidays.


As far as I could tell, my grandmother lived on the yellow lemon drop candies that sat in crystal dishes on her coffee tables, Lay’s potato chips, and 7up. She “never drank,” but would down a quarter of a bottle of Nyquil at night “to get some sleep.” I remember sitting under her B3 organ and watching those white go-go boots fly across the pedals, as she played what they called then Popular Standards, though let’s just admit it, the woman introduced a 3 year old to straight ahead jazz. I can still imagine the sound of Billie Holiday on the organ with that clickety-clack sound of her fingernails on the keys.

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