Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Summer Job That Keeps on Giving

When I was seventeen, I wanted a summer job away from home. Not just anywhere. Not just any job. Specifically, I wanted to wait tables at the Maine seaside resort where my Dad had waited tables many years before.

It was out of the question. They [my parents] said so.

Then, miraculously, through business, my Dad [the meanie referenced earlier] met the owners of the neighboring small Inn [If you are looking for a wonderful place to stay on the coast of Maine, I highly recommend this place--Rock Gardens Inn and Cottages]. They just so happen to be hiring a full-time babysitter for the summer for their three year old son. They weren't, however, eager to have a 17 year old living in their staff housing. But, they took a chance on me--and, I'm so glad they did. For the next few summers and periodic school vacations, I was the babysitter.

On most days, it was an exceptionally fun job. Seriously, what's not to love about taking care of children on the coast of Maine? But, I think one of the most rewarding parts of the job was the relationships I developed with the family. To this day, they are a part of my life. (They were there to meet my first born in the hospital!)

One of the many wonderful experiences this "job" afforded me was the opportunity to meet - and get to know their grandfather -- great American painter, Will Barnet. He is a remarkable man with endless energy, patience and charm. One of the times I stayed with the family at the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park, Mr. Barnet took me out to galleries. We hopped on buses (yes, buses!) and rode from gallery to gallery. He introduced me to people (what people, I have no idea); he talked to me about art. He exposed me to a world I knew nothing about. I was in awe of the whole experience. Galleries. Buses. People in fancy clothes. Had I really comprehended who he was, I might have been intimidated. But, to me, he was this completely approachable grandfather figure who was taking me on an outing in the city. It is a memory I will cherish forever.

Mr. Barnet, now 99, continues to paint in his Gramercy Park studio every day. Yesterday, Mr. Barnet was featured prominently in the New York Times. The article tells his story -- and the photos show the kind and approachable man who opened up my world in a whole new way.

1 comment:

  1. I too, had a life changing summer experience that ended with galleries in Manhattan. I had a "boyfriend" at a summer camp when I was a sophomore in high school. The following fall, he and his family were in New York City and invited me to come along.They picked me up at the airport in a stretch limo (apparently this was how they traveled about- it was 1984, btw) and took me to soho to go out to eat at restaurants that were to die for! They took me gallery hopping and the trip ended at a store called "Think Big". Everything in the store was huge- and the father bought me a giant (5ft tall) red crayon! He knew I was trying to go to art school for college and recognized it with this gift! Sorry to go on and on, but it was a life changing moment for me- I was an artist in the eyes of more than just myself!