Jimi Hendrix and a box of paint

Christmas time of year, more than any other it seems, is a time for reflection and gratitude and giving.

And in that sentiment, here’s a box. And a story.

The box is a little beat up and mostly empty now, but at one time it was jammed full of paint, brushes, turpentine and linseed oil, and several little canvas panels slipped into the slots in the lid.

This is not a Christmas story. The events to place in February 1968, around Presidents Day. Just a trip to visit some family some 1200 miles away. I want to share 2 highlights of a very eventful trip.

First is how I remember so specifically when the trip occurred. I grew up pretty poor. Single mom, living with her single mom. My mom worked, my gramma watched the kids. Nothing special. But my mom’s sister and her family lived in Houston and were quite well off. We often received “care packages” from them in the mail. Hand-me-down clothes mostly. My cousin was nearly 4 years older than me, but I generally made the clothes work. I could stuff a little newspaper in the shoes to keep them on.

So my grandpa was headed to Houston to the family, and invited me to tag along. Very exciting!. We left on Friday or Saturday, and about 19 hours later, arrived in Houston. We stopped for gas and had a meal in Lubbock, but that was about it. Sunday, February 18 I attended my very first rock concert. I was 12, my cousin was 16 and the show was Jimi Hendrix! Years later, I can pinpoint the date of that trip, because of that Jimi Hendrix experience. (see what I did there?)

The most significant event, the life changing event, happened a few days later. We had gone to visit my cousins grandmother, Mavis. She was an accomplished artist, and for some reason decided she liked me. As we were leaving her home that day, she asked us to wait. She hurried into her studio, and after several minutes (seemed like hours to a 12 year old boy) she came out with the box, stuffed full of supplies, and presented it to me. She simply said “You should have this and learn paint.” No fan fare. Almost an after-thought as we were leaving.

And 54 years later I still have the box, and I am still learning to paint. I am a practicing artist.

There’s a lot more to share, but for now it’s Jimi Hendrix and the paint box.