There are days when life takes an unexpected turn and you are immersed within the circle of life. Recently, my wife and I relocated our old curio shop to New Buffalo, Michigan.
With the addition of the Four Winds Casino, we felt that this town, growing community, would be the perfect place for our small business. We are avid auction goers.
For it is at auctions that you see a piece of Americana on display. And of course, auctions are great places to buy items.
Getting back to the story, one day an elderly gentleman, roughly 90 or so, walked into our shop. He was on a bus tour of the Midwest and wanted to stretch his legs before the coach rambled on down the road.
As he looked at the various items, Native American, Celtic, Amish, etc, he paused in front of an old painting of a lighthouse. He stood there for a long time.
Finally, he turned and asked where we had obtained that painting. It is my wife with the memory for detail. I need everything written down in order to remember.
My wife said that we had picked it up at an auction in Grand Haven in late April. It was an estate sale of a Miss Lucy Farr.
At the mention of Lucy Farr, his old walnut-hued eyes brightened and a smile appeared on the aged countenance. Being curious my wife asked if he had known Miss Farr.
He sighed and replied yes, many, many years ago when they were children. He proceeded to explain that Oliver and Maggie Farr were the caretakers of the lighthouse in the painting. As a young boy he and Lucy played around the rocks and sand dunes. They also helped Mr. Farr polish the mirrors. Grand days and grand times, he mused.
One could see Chicago on a clear day from the top of the lighthouse, he said. Pausing, he said, or was it Milwaukee? He couldn’t rightly remember. He knew that he had lived somewhere on the coast.
He remembered that Mrs. Farr made the best red raspberry lemonade in the summer, spicy apple cider in the fall and the most sumptuous hot chocolate during the long Lake Michigan winters. He shivered at that comment.
He and Lucy went to elementary school and high school together. Then the war came and he left to fight for his country. After three years in the European Theater, he decided to make the army a career and hung around for the Marshall Plan. He was a lonely child, and his parents had passed away in a train accident during the war.
Of course, as fate would have it, he met and fell in love with a beautiful French girl in Paris. He said it was an act of fate. He was turning a corner and walked in front of her bicycle. She felt so bad for soiling his uniform, she invited him to her house for supper and her mother would get the dirt out of his clothes. The rest you would say is true Parisian romance.
About twenty-two years after he had left Michigan, he and his French wife came back to the town he grew up in.
The Lighthouse was still there, but no longer functional. Mr. and Mrs. Farr had passed away, and Lucy, some of the townspeople believed that she had gone west to pursue her career as an artist.
Then he said proudly, if you look in the corner it says in faded hues Lucy Farr. And, if you look in the window, you see the faces of a boy and girl, Jack and Lucy, watching the waves roll over the pier.
My wife being the romantic asked if Jack wanted to have the painting. He sighed, and replied no. It had refreshed some cherished memories and he wanted someone else to enjoy Lucy’s painting. His time in this world was short. His children and grandchildren would not appreciate it the way it should be appreciated.
However, he wanted us to make sure that whomever might purchase the painting knew the story. My wife promised him that much. Jack said goodbye and left for his bus.
Now, when we go to an auction and buy items, we try to find out as much information as we can. For who knows, who else will venture into our shop with a connection to an item for sale?
(Note: this is a work of fiction. It is not based on real people or events.)
G. D. Williams © 2013