Newsletter, 2007 -- Quill Pen in Hand, Lady Journalist Ventures into Cyberspace
December 29, 2007 by Judy Vaughn
It’s hardly earth-shaking news, but as times change, this old lady and her artist husband are tiptoeing into new media. Kudos first to the Small Business Administration which offers classes, mostly free, at 455 Market Street in San Francisco. I am often the oldest person in the room and sit glassy eyed listening to riveting discussions about search engine optimization! I’d rather be riveted by the Middle Ages. Royce would rather go to Ravenna, Italy, to study the black influence on early Christian art. But we're learning. We're learning!
Veteran’s Administration. Although he does not have hepatitis, Royce does have liver problems and was in the Veterans’ Administration Healing Arts program. www.hepatitis.va.gov/.vahep?page=ptartvaughn-&post=1&slide=2.
His “partnership” with the VA has been quite wonderful. They take good care of him and on every visit he makes the rounds to meet new people. In the outside world, he’s their number one publicist.
Other art news. He’s in a November 3-4 show at Jones Methodist Church,which will include Afrigrams. His paintings for Julie Richey (Blue Angels over San Francisco) and Andy Heston (Lighthouse at Point Sur) were a smash hit. He sold four paintings in October, including the infamous “Red, White, Blue and the Green” marching band that was originally bought by Miss Phoebe Cole, organist at Saint Aidan’s Church, who later bequeathed it back to him when she died. Getting ready for February, he’s preparing “Quartet”, four sepia color portraits of George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass and Ralph Bunche for a show at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. This is part of a “Remembering Our Heroes” series he started many years ago. The portraits are terrific.
OMIBL.Still fighting forthe OMI Business League, which he founded, Royce recently nominated three strong community voices for the SF Examiner’s Neighborhood Business Awards: Bob and Marilyn Katzman (check out their Firehouse Adventures (www.fireenginetours.com) and Stacey Huey of Miracle Cleaners.
Our Particular Universe
Because it’s perched on top of a hill, our house has always seemed large, larger than its actual size. From the top of the hill we can look out over the entire valley. Mt. Diablo is on the far horizon. And beyond that? Isn't that Chicago? It’s as though we could take a running jump off the planet and fly out into space. And if, indeed, gravity should eventually pull us down, we’d most certainly land on the other side of the world. Maybe Katmandu.
From this vantage point, three quarters of the view is sky. Below that, the earth is clearly round. Watch the vapor trail from a passing plane many miles above. One hundred and eighty degrees across the horizon, it leaves an arched path following the curve of the earth.
This round, fragile earth is spinning on its axis at 8000 miles an hour. So are we.
For forty years this house has been filled to capacity with an overabundance of energy, creativity, hope, surprise, success and failure, unpredictable chaos, undeniable pain and inexhaustible curiosity. It’s something of a metaphor for our lives. We sit on the top of a hill on the brink of a valley in the middle of a universe.
Does the building appear to lean slightly to the right? We could hardly move into such a place so contrary to our lifestyle, we laughed to the realtor in 1966, watching as a dropped coin rolled to one side of the floor. “Not to worry,” he countered. Adroitly he did a complete about face, turning in the opposite direction. “You see,” he smiled, “it actually leans slightly to the left!”
We bought the house and the adventure began.
To pay the moving bills, bless the rooms and welcome our friends, we held an art show sponsored by The Negro Historical and Cultural Society.
A foreshadowing of things to come! This would be a public as well as private place. Christmas trees and candlelit dinners would happen here. Everyday life would happen -- sometimes splendidly, sometimes with enormous pain. But there would also be business meetings at this table overlooking the valley. Funds raised, contacts made, ambitious educational programs developed and implemented. There was a brave new world to be created and we were part of it. It was a heady time.
The ladies from the Historical Society sensed the spirit. Almost immediately, when the International Visitors’ Center needed a home to host a party for 100 Africans, they asked us to help.
Usually, mansions overlooking the Golden Gate host this kind of large international delegation. They have the space. They have the hired help which we, of course, do not. But the ladies who were our sponsors saw beyond the prestige of PacificHeights hospitality this time. They saw an opportunity for African visitors to see how middle class families lived. It’s not that we were so normal. We weren’t. But we loved to give parties. And our house was certainly big.
The evening came. The time of arrival came … and went. Where were our visitors? As we waited, we posted signs on the decks. Please, no more than fifteen at a time.
The ladies fussed. We waited. The music of Charlie Parker set the mood.
Suddenly, an advance scout arrived to tell us the situation. Drivers of the chartered buses carrying the Africans were perplexed. The hill was too steep. This was no place for a bus.
So the caravan took an alternate route and parked a block away. Then those 100 Africans with skins so dark and so intense they seemed almost purple, those 100 Africans with natural hairstyles only just then becoming popular in the United States, those 100 future African leaders that the State Department wanted to show how middle class America lived…those 100 Africans got out of their buses in their brilliantly colored dashikis and wonderfully long flowing robes. They hit the pavement, started knocking on doors to see where we lived and in a great wave of sub-Saharan color walked up the street to our front door.…
As home movies go, it was an entrance worthy of Cecil B. De Mille.
An auspicious beginning. A sign of things to come.
Next Newsletter. The purpose of this epistle is to start a conversation. We’ll talk about artists and filmmakers, The Salvation Army and other good causes which focus on young people, particularly minority youth, San Francisco City Guides and Grace Cathedral -- some things sublime and some things just plain fun. For instance, we recently found www.royceart.com which appears to have an astonishing readership of people looking for items depicting frogs and marine life. On the other end of the spectrum www.netSERF.com looks like a great resource for medieval research. Computer-wise, we’ve been in interminable discussions with www.acninc.net which was kind to us this week when an obdurate, take-no-prisoners anti-virus company was not. Maybe quill pens are best after all!