1958 – was the year we I moved to Mount Prospect and had the good fortune to buy the house on George Street, next door to the Erickson’s.
Picture this: I, eight months pregnant, struggling to get a portfolio out of the truck; suddenly interrupted by the presence of a tall, slim, auburn – haired beauty who had just leapt the fence between our houses while calling out a two-word challenge:
”Me,” I replied.
“Landsman,” Shirley cried,
and with a great, big hug our friendship began.
During the spring and summer of 1959 Shirley and I found it possible to gather up our five children, (who, at the time ranged in age from five months to five years) for a full day each week, entrusting them to the care of Mrs. Busse, a neighbor, as we two roamed all over Cook County sketching. Our subjects included everything from a Victorian cemetery to Dear Love Farm (said, at the time, to be the last working farm in
In January, 1960 my husband was transferred back to his company’s
Don’s architectural career was growing rapidly as he added new clients for residential work, and responded to inquiries for commercial projects (including at least one
In spite of all that transpired in our own lives over the next six years, Shirley and I remained in touch – mostly through letters or an occasional phone call (usually triggered by what I believe must have been E.S.P. which told us, “it’s time for a call,” which it usually was).
Our letters were focused more on our painting than our families. Shirley’s observations – her detailed descriptions of old farm houses, canyons, peoples’ faces, or just of light – a particular light falling on a flower, for instance, helped me to understand what she was about (and, I hope, vice-versa). Just as Shirley helped me to perceive detail, she was always gracious enough to say that I had helped her to be a bit freer with her composition!
In 1966, my family and I began a series of summer vacations in Land O’ Lakes,
Following Shirley’s divorce, we made brief stops at Farwa Farm on the way north through
Our daughter has taken custody of “Bye-Bye Birdie,” painted (not without some humor and a good deal of empathy for some long-ago child) of a deceased blue jay, replete with crossed Popsicle sticks to most fully commemorate the creature’s passage. And, she also owns two prints from Shirley’s series of wild birds native to
As time passed, our trips to
I shall miss Shirley more than I can say. I have lost a great friend. The greatest pleasure I can imagine would be just one more letter or another phone conversation. We’ve still got so much more to talk about!
June 16, 2011