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2410 West 2nd

Thursday, July 25th, 2013
2410 West 2nd By: J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

2410 West 2nd By: J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

This Print Available For Sale At:

http://artist-alley.artistwebsites.com/featured/2410-west-2nd-1951-ja-george.html?newartwork=true

The photo that inspired this painting is from the collection of Judy Perkins of Topeka, Kansas. It documents the day in 1951 that a neighbor man took Ms. Perkins, her mother and sister on a rowboat ride through their flooded home at 2410 West 2nd Street in Topeka, Kansas. Little Judy is peaking around her sister who is wiping a tear from her eye. Their Father was in another row boat in the foreground taking the photo.

The original photograph had a sudden impact on me as I had a similar experience 42 years later in 1993 when again the Midwest suffered a great flood. Just like when Topeka became a victim of rain swollen rivers and tributaries in 1951 so too did Baxter Springs, Kansas become a victim in 1993.

I was at a family reunion in Weston, Missouri in September 1993 when disaster struck. The Grand River authority in Oklahoma refused to open their flood gates to relieve the swollen Spring and Neodesha Rivers because they had just installed new playground equipment that spring and they did not want to lose it. So 100’s of families in Ft. Scott, Pittsburg, Riverton, Baxter Springs, Kansas and Miami, Oklahoma lost their homes and worldly possessions to protect a swing set.

Our home in Baxter Spring was the first to succumb to the rising waters and by the time I arrived all that could be seen of our house was the peak of the roof. After making sure that my wife, at that time, Tammy and my boys Michael and Ricky were OK I asked about the animals. Tammy informed me that Breeze A Dog was safe at a friends house but she wasn’t sure about Miss Kitty. Tammy said that the last time she had seen her she was asleep in the linen closet. “She may have got out when we were removing stuff from the house, I don’t know. I found a Cherokee County Sheriff’s Deputy and asked him to take me down to the house in a boat so that I could make sure Miss Kitty had got out safely.

As the Deputy maneuvered his boat around to the back of the house I grabbed his fire extinguisher and once the boat was in position I used it to bust out the kitchen window. As the shards of glass slowly sunk in the Khaki colored muck I yelled out; MISS KITTY! A faint meow came from somewhere inside the house. The water was within just 6 inches of the ceiling and trash, food and furniture floated in the foul smelling water.

“Get me to the back door” I instructed the Deputy, “I’m going to kick in a panel on the back door and go in for her.” The Deputy said, “Are you sure you want to…” But suddenly stopped in mid sentence looking hard into the window by the back door. “She’s in that room!” He exclaimed, “I can see her eyes.” Taking the fire extinguisher I busted out that window and looked inside. On the far side of the room a set of box springs was floating and clinging onto the edge of those springs, her head held up above the water was my Miss Kitty.

The Calico Cat yowled mournfully, her wide eyes scared. As the Deputy held onto my belt with one hand and the eave of the house with the other I reached through the broken window for the bed springs. As my fingers made contact Miss Kitty ran up my arm clinging to my shoulder the way she had clung to the bed springs. I resettled into the boat and as the Deputy maneuvered us up what had once been 7th Street Miss Kitty nestled her water soaked body into mine purring softly.

As we arrived at Main Street there were News Crews from NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX waiting for us. Someone had alerted the news media that a cat rescue was taking place and for 15 minutes Miss Kitty enjoyed her fame.

This story has a happy ending, of sorts. Miss Kitty, Breeze A Dog, Ricky, Michael, Tammy and I survived the great flood of 1993. We lost irreplaceable items but saved a priceless object, Miss Kitty. Floods are horrible things that cannot even be imagined by anyone who has never had to endure the cleanup of the mud, muck, ooze and gunk. The smell seems to never go away and you feel dirty for months after. Yes a Flood is horrible but for those of us that have lived through a flood we can be a little more sympathetic and understanding of the strength that it takes to recover and start a new. We have the power of the water that took our comfort and gave us a strength stronger that the flood that washed it away.

Judy Perkins Said: “During the 1951 flood in Topeka our neighbor man took my mother, sister and me on a rowboat ride through our house at 2410 W. 2nd. I am the girl in back looking around my sister. Sure brings back memories…I think my dad must have taken the photo from the boat in the foreground. It was quite a scary feeling riding through the various rooms inside. My sister was already wiping away a tear.”

-The GYPSY-
“Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!”


The Goat Doctor

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
"The Goat Doctor" By: J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

“The Goat Doctor” By: J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

This Print Available For Sale At:

http://artist-alley.artistwebsites.com/featured/the-goat-doctor-ja-george.html

Read the true story of America’s Greatest Huckster by CLICKING HERE

-The GYPSY-
“Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!”


The Albino Woman

Saturday, May 18th, 2013
"The Albino Woman" By: J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

“The Albino Woman” By: J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

This Print Is For Sale At:

http://artist-alley.artistwebsites.com/featured/the-albino-woman-of-topeka-ja-george.html

While we are on the subject of cemeteries allow me to relate the strange tale of the Albino Woman to you my faithful readers. The story of the Albino Woman is a ghost story that has touched me in the past and will again become part of my story in the future. The cemetery she haunts, Rochester Cemetery, is located on the northwest outskirts of Topeka, Kansas and is the final resting place of my family as it will also someday be the final resting place of my wife Debbie and I.
This ghost story has its roots in the life of a strange albino woman who wandered her north Topeka neighborhood at night and glared at children on their way to school during the day. As a child she had been mercilessly teased by her classmates. That taunting had followed her to adult hood as the neighborhood children would call her names and yell insults at her. After the friendless woman died in 1963 of mysterious circumstances residents began reporting a glowing white female figure walking in the area after dark especially along Shunganunga Creek.
Often the sightings were near Rochester Cemetery where the woman was buried and near which Shunganunga Creek flows. To this day employees of the nearby Goodyear Tire Factory claim to see her regularly, and some neighbors see the apparition as often as once a week.
It was August of 1964 and I was trying on clothes in the dressing room of the children’s department on the second floor of Pelletier’s Department store which my Grandmother was Manager of. It was time for me to get my new school clothes. School was going to start soon and I would be entering the second grade.
Suddenly the door to the dressing room flew open and there stood a tall veiled woman dressed entirely in black. her red eyes were visible through the dark veil as she reached out a gloved hand towards me. As the arm came closer I saw with horror the pale almost bluish flesh of the arm between her sleeve and glove. I let out a scream and she froze in her movement. Appearing behind the tall frightening figure was the small stature of my Grandmother. Summing up the situation quickly my Grandmother forcibly ordered, “Leave! You are not welcomed here!” The veiled woman slowly turned as I crouched back against the wall. I heard my Grandmother repeat, “You are not welcomed here.” She then ordered, “Now leave!” The tall figure with the red eyes and bluish skin silently glided past my Grandmother and towards the stair well. I ran to my Grandmothers arms and watched, along with the employees that had come running when I screamed, the frightening figure descend the stairs and quickly disappear.
I was to learn later that this was the Albino Woman who had died the next year. I was not to learn until four years later why she had sought me out.
The Rochester Cemetery’s caretaker and his wife had a close encounter with the ghost of the Albino Woman late one night in 1968. As they pulled their car into the driveway they saw a figure scurrying among the gravestones. Thinking it a child playing a prank, they aimed the car’s headlights at the figure, which was then kneeling before a grave. When the caretaker got out of the car, the ghostly figure stood up and glared angrily at him and walked deeper into the cemetery. The caretaker was so upset he called the police but the officers found nothing.
The ghost’s route was so regular that one resident began watching for it as it strolled across his lawn on clear nights. Eventually, he claimed, the figure began to pause and gaze at his house as though it wished to speak to him. It began to pass closer and closer to the house until one night it stood at his children’s bedroom window and watched them as they slept. The man was badly scared, but the apparition never harmed his children.
This was not the only house that the Albino Woman looked within the windows. One hot summer evening in 1968 as I lay asleep, my bed by the window to catch what little breeze drifted into the bedroom. We were poor and air conditioning was not a luxury we could afford so a rotary fan moved the stagnant air around the room. I was awakened by a scratching sound at my window. In my groggy, half asleep state I thought it was my cat, Blue Boy, scratching at the screen. “Stop it girl,” I mumbled. That is when my cat hissed. I opened my eyes to see Blue Boy, her back arched, her hair on end and hissing at the window. I rolled over and looked into the glowing red eyes of the Albino Woman who was standing right outside my window glaring at me with an intense stare that was without emotion. I screamed and scrambled out of my bed.
My Mother came running into the room and saw the hideous apparition standing at the window. “Leave us alone, damn you,” my mother screamed, “leave us alone!” My mother grabbed my arm and shoved me from the room. “I am sorry, OK?! I am sorry! Now leave us be!” My mother yelled as she exited the room and slammed the bedroom door close.
I found out that night that the Albino Woman had lived in a house in my mothers childhood neighborhood. My mother and her friends had taunted the poor hapless woman everyday as they walked to and from school.
I have not had an encounter with her since the night my Mother apologized almost 40 years ago now. But it is said that she still walks along Shunganunga creek and prowls the interior woodlands of Rochester Cemetery at night. Do me a favor will you? If you are ever in Rochester Cemetery and you meet a tall woman dressed in black with piercing red eyes and pale bluish white skin, don’t tell her that you know me or that you know where I live. I’ll have a word with her after I am laid to rest there.

-The GYPSY-
“Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!”


Yeso

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
Yeso By: J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

Yeso By: J.A. George AKA; The GYPSY

This Print Is Available For Sale At:

http://artist-alley.artistwebsites.com/featured/yeso-wall-j-a-george.html

We rolled down the endless highway, Debbie and I, into the bright New Mexico day. Clouds hung low in the blue morning sky like poly fiber torn from an over stuffed pillow. As we rolled along we knew that the soft clouds could gather into a storm, we watched the sky with wary eye.

Mile after mile passed beneath our wheels as we headed east along Highway 60 towards Ft. Sumner. I watched the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe tracks running along side the road, rail keeping pace with asphalt.

The clouds had congealed into a soft gray mass and I prayed that if they opened it would be a quick desert rain and not a deluge of biblical proportions.

I was thinking about the last 22 miles we had to travel to our destination when we topped a rise in the highway and there it was… A Ghost Town!

We grabbed brake, instinctively, pulling onto the dusty shoulder in front of, what was once, the dead towns post office. We did not have to ask each other if we should stop, we both knew the answer. Our artists eyes had seen this treasure and we knew Yeso, New Mexico was ours for the taking.

Yeso means “gypsum” in Spanish; the town was established in 1906, when the AT&SF RR came to the area, and it became a trading center for ranchers (and the very few farmers) in the area.

Its post office began operations in 1909, and is now the towns only business servicing the nearby ranch’s from a small metal building. The postmaster lives behind the small office in a 5th wheel trailer.

Yeso was spelled Yesso during the years 1912-1913, for unknown reasons. When it became clear that the land was not suited for farming, and only useful for sheepherding and cattle grazing, many of the original settlers moved away. Only a hand full of people still call Yeso home. On this day we were Yeso’s only tourists.

Yeso is a true ghost town in every sense of the word. It’s abandoned red adobe brick buildings are slowly returning to the earth from which they arose.

Open doorways beckon you into passages dimly lit by the ambient light of the desert sky. Sage and course grass cover areas of collapsed flooring like a rolling carpet of dusty green and dark sienna. Empty windows stare out at the world while tumble weed residents roll along long forgotten sidewalks.

Here and there you can hear the residents of this once thriving town talking to each other. The desert finch warns the curious Kangaroo rat that the red tail hawk is nearby while the crows gossip about what the diamondback did last evening. If you listen even closer you can still hear echos of the human voices that once filled the vacant structure’s.

We moved around the town, photo after photo capturing what one day would be no more than a dusty pile along a busy road. Foundations that served as planters for prickly pear and cholla cactus today would tomorrow be nothing more than a mound from which creosote arose.

My camera’s shutters click, click, click was answered by the whistling wind that played through missing roofs and broken rafters. We speculated on belongings left behind and what the town must have been like when it was populated with humans instead of desert willows.

We returned to the highway and continued on towards Ft. Sumner. The thick gray clouds were started to thin out as we rolled on. I looked in my rearview mirror one more time for a final look at Yeso. The desert ghost town disappeared from my view as it would one day disappear from the world. It will be forever lost to the ages but captured, at least for a brief time upon our film to one day be brought back to a tenuous life upon our canvas’s resurrected by an artists brush.

-The GYPSY-
“Art must evoke an emotion in order to be art. If it only creates indifference then it is not art, it is garbage!”