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Over 60 ... And Getting Younger: August 23, 2012

Among My Souvenirs

Since my children are all grown and have children of their own, I have no great use for my basement floor anymore. It is usually musty and dank down there and I often have to empty the filled dehumidifiers. Therefore, I don’t go down there much.

But the other day when I ventured down to the lower floor, I spied something of value. It was a picture of my father, mother, sister and myself. It was created by a Korean artist in 1959. I was stationed at Yongsan in Seoul, Korea and at the time I was feeling a bit homesick. I requested a picture of my family be sent to me, which it was. I entered the artist’s studio and he and I planned the picture while he sat on his haunches, Korean-style, and we designed the operation.

I forgot to tell you that he was an artist in the media of woodburning likenesses onto a wooden board. He took my family photo and a photo of myself in an army uniform. I asked him to join the four of us in a wood-burned portrait. I felt it was a way that, even though I was 10,000 miles away from home (the Bronx), we could be a family again in a picture.

Two days later, the portrait was ready. I forgot how much the price was, but the American dollar was quite strong in those days. The likeness was quite good and it was framed in a wooden enclosure. I hung it on my Bachelor Officers’ Quarter wall and it gave me a nice lift. I took it home with me and hung it in the basement on a far corner of the wall.

My parents are both gone now, but the portrait brings back memories of a time 53 years in the past. It was the only portrait I had ever self-commissioned and it gives me a feeling of satisfaction and a hint of nostalgia. My advice to readers: take out an old album of photos or gaze at some portraits hanging on your walls. Enjoy the experience!