Coincidence and Memories
by Rita Dawson
(Broken Arrow, Ok. USA)
Having always liked the art of Norman Rockwell, I never thought kindly about those critics whose main objection was that his work was too much like a photograph to be taken seriously, oblivious of the talent required to achieve that detail, while then touting the splash-dash 'modern' art requiring a fraction of Rockwell's technical know-how. His unique gift was that of evoking pleasant and relatable feelings with realism and humor while reflecting positive ideals as well.
But the main reason for this contact is that on June 11, 1955, an 18-year old girl and her soon-to-be husband stood before the clerk of the court in a very similar old courthouse office in a small town in Virginia (minus the iron stove and cat, but there was actually a cuspidore by the door). She carried a note from her elderly guardian grandmother stating that she had her permission to marry the young man, who happened to look very much like young Mr Mahoney. The clerk at that time also looked very much like Mr Braman, and her dress was very similar to the one in the painting---ordered from Alden's catalogue for the occasion---although it was ivory instead of yellow.
We went from the court house to the Pastor's house for the ceremony and a short honeymoon before he had to leave for his next phase of training in the USAF. He died almost nine years ago. For what would have been our 60th anniversary this year, the youngest of our six children and his sweet wife presented me with an original issue of that Saturday Evening Post, enclosed in a hinged frame. It will replace the picture I removed from a very large book of Rockwell paintings, that I have had for many years.
I was always a little amazed at the similarities of the painting with our own experience, so also have a second framed one and a small figurine of it as well. Fairly recently, the current clerk of the court actually mailed me a copy of my grandmother's note, which is still within their records. So for me this painting will always have an additional layer of 'special'.
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