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A baby boomer, I was born shortly after the end of World War II in what was then a very proud, rural area of Durham County, North Carolina. Tobacco was a way of life for my family and me. My mother and father both worked for a tobacco manufacturing company. Durham was founded on tobacco and was a major center for farming and selling the golden leaf and producing tobacco products. I have many fond memories of my grandparents’ farm where work was a necessity to live. There were daily chores of milking, gardening, canning, churning butter, hog killing, planting, plowing, putting in tobacco, tending the animals, hunting, and fishing. This was a simpler, slower time -- a time before air conditioning. Televisions were not the norm. I remember our family’s first TV, a little black and white screen in a huge wooden box that sat on the floor. Back then, a TV never interrupted weekly Sunday afternoon family gatherings. Cousins romped all over the farm, while the porch was alive with the chatter of aunts and uncles catching up on the past week’s events.
Pappa's Patch was inspired by my granddad ‘Bob’ Glenn and memories of all the times I followed him in the tobacco patch – barefoot, jumping from one of his footprints to the next. Flue Fire was the last of a series of paintings I painted for the Bright Theater, a part of the Tobacco Museum at the Duke Homestead State Historic Site in Durham. The Bright Theater tells the history of the tobacco curing process which originated in Caswell County, North Carolina in the early 1800’s. Primetime originated from photographs taken on the Currin farm where The Crossings Golf Course is today. Under the Old Oak Tree came off of a farm in South Hill, Virginia. Joe Warren, the gentleman on the left, is the owner of that farm. My Aunt Mozelle Cooley is the looper, as fast as any tobacco looper I ever knew. My father in law, Marvin Walker, is reining the mule behind the sled. Aunt Mozelle and Mr. Walker are now deceased. Frank McDade from Cedar Grove is the fourth person. Frank and Joe Warren are alive and kicking very well.