Oh, today is HALLOWEEN! May I introduce you to “Casper,” the ghost, “Tony,” the turkey, and five beautiful orange pumpkins! Where in the world did I meet these characters? Why none other than in the front of Piggly Wiggly, our grocery store in Starkville, on a cool, zippy early autumn morning on October 13, 1995.
It was an absolutely perfect day to create a painting. I was searching for something very special to paint that day, and there is was, right in front of my very eyes.
It was almost in my back yard on Wood Street, if I turn down the hill and up the hill from our old family home at 501 Louisville Street. I made my turn into the parking lot, and there was my subject for the October day. A pile of fresh straw with pumpkins piled up high to the sky waiting for some customers to come along and pick one out to take home with them.
I loved the brown straw and the bright orange and yellow pumpkins all stacked side by side. One or two were turned different ways, and one large one was stacked up on tip top of the other one or two. How colorful these pumpkins all looked, and each one said, “It’s almost Halloween, pick me, pick me, pick me!”
I quickly pulled into a parking spot, and went inside to find the manager of the grocery store. It might have been called Food Max back in 1995. It changed names a couple of times, and it is now Piggly Wiggly, “The Pig” as it is sometimes called.
I told the manager that I wanted to paint the scene in front of his store, may I do so? He graciously agreed, and I was in for a day of fun! I quickly got out all of my art supplies, popped up my umbrella to keep the bright sunlight off the white canvas as well as to shade my work. I got out my easel, floppy hat, tall red director’s chair to sit in, and I was ready to sketch my subjects.
I needed some life in this painting I went inside and borrowed a floating balloon ghost, I named, “Casper the Ghost.” He was so cute. His mouth was not creepy or scary looking at all, but his mouth was smiling from ear to ear. He was very jolly! His tongue was in the shape of a heart, and his two black eyes twinkled. He was chubby, and he must have been eating lots of food inside during the night hours as he snacked along the aisles of the grocery store.
I carefully took my newly met friend outside, and tied him to the stem of the large middle pumpkin. There were five pumpkins I was going to paint, and two of them had prominent green stems which would be perfect to use to tie “Casper” down to keep him from blowing off into the great beyond along with the wind currents. He would be a challenge to paint, since he would be floating and moving all day long with the slightest breeze coming our way on this fine October morning.
I remember sketching all morning long. I chose the odd number of pumpkins. Five would be the perfect odd number of these beautiful pumpkins. I started in the middle of this painting, sketching first the largest pumpkin, the one with “Casper” now, “dancing” above this one pumpkin as he floated gently back and forth over the other four pumpkins as if he were the “King” of the scene!
I was in a way in “heaven” with my subjects as I was quickly sketching and then beginning to see and think of all the colors in front of me. I have to block out all the things around me, and concentrate on just what is in front of me at that very moment. I don’t even hear the traffic passing by, however I can hear a foot step or so, and sense someone might be right behind me looking at what I am doing. When I am outside painting, I am in my own “special heaven on earth” doing my thing that I adore and love best. This is creating a special painting, and this was going to be one of those very extra special paintings for that day, for sure!
I thought I need really a living breathing subject to give that “pizazz” to my painting. Who and what will it be? I suddenly dug my cell phone out of my pocket, and dialed Mr. Joe Williams. Now everyone in town knows or they surely should get to know and love Joe Williams. He loves sports, helps with some of our sporting events, and delivers papers around town early in the mornings. Do you know Joe Williams and his mother, we simply call, “Granny?” She is a dear as her son, Joe, I love “Granny” too! “Hey, Joe, what are you doing right now? “ “Oh, hey, Carole, How is it going with you?” “Fine, Joe, and how is your pet turkey, ‘Tony?’” “Oh, Carole, ‘Tony’ is ‘A Okay,’ and ‘Tony’ is better than okay he is one fine turkey indeed.” “Well, Joe, why don’t you bring ‘Tony’ on over to Piggly Wiggly up in the front of the store out front so that I can paint his portrait this fine autumn morning, how about it?” “Oh, Carole, I’ll be right up there with ‘Tony!’”
I knew that “Tony” was the one face I desperately needed to complete this painting. I could hardly wait until Joe Williams and “Tony” arrived. I greeted them both with, “I am so delighted and so happy to see both of you, Joe and ‘Tony,’ why, you are like ‘two peas in a pod!’” Joe had a big smile on his face because he really did love “Tony,” and today was to be “Tony” Williams big day! He was getting his portrait painted just in time for Halloween! “Tony” would be forever spared from the Thanksgiving table. He was very, very special.
I had everything painted except “Tony’s” portrait. He was my living and breathing “human” in this scene right before me. “Casper” was floating balloon who thought he was a “King” as he waved and spun around and around in the breeze that day. He seemed as if he were breathing and was alive as he danced up high above the five pumpkins.
It would be “Tony” who was the live subject that morning, and he seemed to just know that he must be still for a few minutes so that I could sketch and then quickly paint him.
Just look at his determined one eye, his mouth is slightly opened, and his long red neck. Look at all the wonderful colors around the top of his head. The pinks, purples, oranges, blues, and his little face was just so handsome. He gave me the very, very, very special touch that I needed to complete this painting, and I adored and loved both “Tony” and Joe Williams for bringing his pet turkey all the way up town for me to place on my canvas that day.
“Tony” lived on for several years, but one day, Joe flagged me down to tell me the sad news that “Tony” had gone on to “Turkey Heaven.” I felt so sad to hear of his death, but he had lived a great “Turkey Life” in Joe’s barn yard on earth. I just bet today, “Tony” is somewhere up there “strutting his stuff”—with his cute little body—as one proud Mississippi Turkey.
“Tony” lives on today, along with “Casper” the floating “king” over all the five “pumpkins” nestled softly waiting to be purchased within a stack of hay outside the front entrance way of our Piggly Wiggly Grocery Store on Highway 12.
It a special day today, October 31.