Norman Rockwell, the iconic painter spent his career capturing real life on canvas. I have always been a super fan of his from the time I was little, when my Aunt purchased a book containing all of his Saturday Evening Post covers for my Grandfather. I would sit for hours perusing the images in that book imagining a simpler time. He is my favorite painter by far, and his images provoke so many memories that I would like to share with you all. So, over the next 14 days or so, you will journey with me back in time to a sometimes misspent youth.
I was inspired to start this series by a fellow blogger Bert Carson. Please go show Bert some blog love – he is an amazing writer telling amazing stories. In his bio he states “I am a Vietnam Vet. I write about men and women who do the right thing” . His stories are thought provoking and inspiring and you will be deeply touched – I promise!
All of the art for these posts is from Art.com. Their bio of Norman Rockwell reads: (1894 – 1978) is celebrated as “the Dickens of the paintbrush”. His warm and often humorous images captured a unique vision of Americana. In addition to story illustrations, advertising campaigns, posters, calendars and books, Rockwell’s paintings were showcased on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post for more than forty years. In 1957 the United States Chamber of Commerce cited Rockwell as a Great Living American, saying: “Through the magic of your talent, the folks next door – their gentle sorrows, their modest joys – have enriched our own lives and given us new insight into our countrymen.”
Without further ado – let’s get going on Day 1 of this Norman Rockwell inspired series, shall we?
The image that inspired this post:
Aren’t they so cute? Sitting there all stiff backed and nervous… this image takes me back to my very first “car date”. I was twelve years old and Trey (the cute boy in question) was my date – along with his parents… Honestly, you don’t think that my parents would have been irresponsible enough to send their twelve-year-old on a car date with another twelve-year-old without supervision do you? We would have been breaking all kinds of laws – especially since neither of us was old enough to drive a car in the first place! HA
Anyway, we went to see Star Wars in the theater and afterwards we stopped by a Shakey’s Pizza. Shakey’s was famous for its stone fired
ovens and some of the best anchovies this planet has ever produced. We could watch our pizza being made by hand from the crust up, watch as it went in the oven, and take our seats with a frosted mug of root beer and watch countless shorts featuring the Three Stooges. It was just the place for a couple of twelve-year olds out on the town!
But I digress. This isn’t about the pizza parlor – this is about the date itself.
I remember very vividly sitting in the backseat of Trey’s parents car, holding hands – sweaty with nerves, with a boy for the very first time. I was nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, let me tell you!
I didn’t know dating etiquette then. I didn’t know much of anything at that age. When we arrived at the theater, Trey’s dad slipped him $5 to get our tickets and he bought them himself. Then we stepped inside the lobby and got in line for popcorn and soda – another $5 assured us a large bucket of popcorn (extra butter and salt of course) and two large sodas – and as a very special “first date” treat a box of Raisinettes (essential movie viewing fare, don’t cha’ know).
Inside the darkened theater we took our seats near the front (not the front row, but probably the fourth) and settled in, with his parents firmly ensconced right behind us (to ensure that wandering hands were not part of the date). The lights went down and we were treated to two hours of the most fun I think I’ve ever had – at least that’s what I thought then… I hadn’t had kids yet for obvious reasons. (Ummm… I was twelve for goodness sake). We held hands and at one point (when Darth Vader was at his peak of evil) I buried my head in his shoulder to hide and he put his arm around me. Y’all – remember how uncomfortable movie seats were before the days of stadium seating? I can only imagine how horribly uncomfortable he must have been, yet he soldiered on.
Once the movie was over and pizza had been partaken of, we returned to the car and I fell asleep on the way home with my head on his shoulder. When we got to my house, his dad allowed him to walk me to my door and he kissed me innocently on the cheek and gave me a big hug. And my first date was over.
I don’t know what ever happened to Trey, I think his dad took a better job in Birmingham, Alabama and they moved away that summer. I never heard from him after that, haven’t seen him in over 30 years. I wonder if he remembers as fondly that first date? The thrill of holding hands in the back seat, hoping his parents didn’t notice – jerking them apart any time his mom looked like she was turning around… blushing when we were too late and she smiled that knowing smile as she communicated just how cute she thought we were with her eyes to his dad. That first kiss on the cheek by a boy I was not related to, and the swell of my heart as he wrapped his arms around me in that big hug.
I wish that love could be that simple now. That we could take things at face value like we did at twelve, before the innocence is washed away by pain, heartache, and grief. For me it was only a few weeks after this wonderful first date that my dad died, and with him my innocence and for a while, my faith in humanity and God.
I will never forget Trey, and the lesson on love I learned that night in the backseat of his parents car – how innocent and sweet it can be. Wherever you are, Trey – I never got to say goodbye, or thank you for the fun – so I’m saying it now!
What about you? What was your memorable first date experience? I would love to know, leave a comment and share!
Tomorrow will be another of these Norman Rockwell inspired posts entitled Misty.
And don’t forget to stop by Bert’s page and show him some bloggy love, you won’t be disappointed, I promise.
Until tomorrow – Happy Tuesday, Happy New Year!
- The Photographs Norman Rockwell Used to Create His Famous Paintings (petapixel.com)
- Norman Rockwell’s painting ‘Willie Gillis: Package From Home’ for sale (upi.com)
- Viewpoints: Rockwell’s lesson: Focus on human potential (sacbee.com)
- Thanksgiving: Norman Rockwell’s Freedom From Want (current.com)