Saturday, February 21, 2009

Drawing from a Snowy Saturday



5 x 6.5 inches graphite
Nellie and L.D. Smith, Franklin County, Washington

It's another snowy day in southern Wisconsin.  Almost all our snow had melted, but once more we have another six inches, and the sounds of snow plows and blowers fill the dim afternoon. We're not going out today, so it's a good day to draw.  If you have been reading this blog for the past couple years you know that I have been working on putting together as many photographs and details as I can about my family history.  This drawing is a detail from a small black and white photo my grandmother had.

The richest source for historical material is my maternal grandmother, Bernice Adams Tess.   She spoke often of growing up on a ranch in Washington, not always fondly.  She moved there with her mother, Nellie Hodgson Adams Smith, when Nellie took a job as a housekeeper/cook on the Smith ranch.  Nellie had divorced her first husband, Len Adams, who later was killed. Eventually Nellie married the manager of the ranch, the well-to-do son of a Spokane businessman.  L.D. Smith, is the man I remember as my great grandfather.  He became an orthopedic surgeon and taught at Marquette University.  He and Nellie eventually divorced, but I remember him as a jovial white-haired man who dressed in suits, and brought me a doll and a silver cup. Both Bernice and Nellie are buried in Elkhorn, where I grew up.  LD is buried in New York, where he and his family originally came from.

This May my sister-in-law and I are taking an Amtrak trip to Washington state, and I hope to see the places my grandmother lived, including Franklin County.  I think that area, near Mesa, is more of a wine growing area these days.  I know I mentioned before that there was no school near the ranch, so Grandma boarded out with a family in Hanford, across the Columbia River, and attended a one room school there.  That entire area was taken over by the government in World War II as part of the Manhattan Project, so I won't be seeing anything there, but I hope to go through a local museum to learn more about the nuclear reservation.  It seems odd to me that she never mentioned what became of Hanford, and that I'm only learning about it now.  I'm looking forward to the trip very much.


original photograph

4 comments:

Teri C said...

That is really a neat drawing and a great project.

I guess snow is good for something. And here it is 80.

Marina said...

Great drawing: I really like it!!!

JoAnn said...

Sherry, your drawing is wonderful. So real. I am so impressed. i cannot draw to save my life....but I trace really well. LOL

Casey Klahn said...

See Tracy Helgeson's art blog to review some oil paintings of old photos in this vein. I like your drawing - very evocative.