Back to Secrets - Part 5

My grandmother,
Blythe White Rand
Mrs. Cammie Henry
at Melrose
My grandfather,
Dr. Paul King Rand
visiting us in
Alexandria, La.
Clementine. Photographed
by Helen Baldwin
Me in Key
West, Florida
Summer 1972

The End of an Era

The last time I saw Clementine was in 1971 in Alexandria, Louisiana, when she traveled from Melrose to attend my grandmother's funeral. I will always remember Clementine sitting in the parlor of the funeral home, dressed in white and fanning herself with a paper fan. Her face was immobile and tears were streaming down her checks. My grandmother lay in an open casket as peaceful as though she were sleeping. Just before the casket was closed, I put the lavender flower of a wild iris in her folded hands.

On my grandmother's death, the "Bowl of Zinnias" was given to me. Along with it was the copper pitcher in which the zinnias had been painted. Sadly, the pitcher was lost years later in the confusion following a fire in my apartment in New York. Fortunately, the painting and the material associated with its history remained unscathed. Clementine's painting, "Milking Time", which appears in Clarence John Laughlin's photograph in "Look Magazine", along with a old window-shade painting, were given to my brother, Rand.

I kept in touch with Francois until his death in 1980. I had known him for almost 35 years. With his passing, an era in my life had passed. My grandmother and grandfather were gone. Mrs. Cammie was gone. Francois was gone. And eventually, Clementine would follow in their way.

During one of the last conversations I had with Francois by telephone, the subject of the "Bowl of Zinnias" came up. I knew it was an important painting, and I asked him what he thought I should do with it.

He answered,"Sell it for a million dollars and buy a high-priced hat".

Whitfield Jack, Jr.
June 7, 2003
Key West Florida

Back to Secrets - Part 5