"ROAD TO THE BARN" by Linda Kinney

For five years, my family lived in the Northeastern part of the United States. I was only six years old when we moved there. I was just beginning to have experiences that would enhance my life. Autumn is still my favorite season, as cooler temperatures cause welcomed changes, ending the hot, smothering summer and bringing forth new wardrobes of beautiful sweaters, scarfs, gloves, and boots. “Road to the Barn” is reminiscent of that time in my life. I painted it on a panoramic 15" x 30" (38.10 x 76.2 cm) canvas, hoping to give the viewer a nostalgic feel and possibly inspiring a memory of their own.

My parents bought a piece of land in the country far from the hustle and bustle of city life. They set our mobile home toward the back of the property, about 1,500 feet (457.2 meters) from the road. They were hard workers and taught each of us to have the same trait, at an early age. I have three siblings, one just a year older. Early that first summer, Dad brought home 4 metal hammers, one for each child, ranging in age from 2 to 7 years. Every day on his way home from work, he stopped on the roadside and filled the truck of our car with stones, rocks and bricks. Our instructions were to break them and make a gravel road. It was a challenge, but he helped and by the time the Autumn rains came, we were thrilled with our accomplishment.

This was our introduction to ‘tools’ and we were soon familiar with the entire toolbox, and more. Dad was a supply sergeant and a ‘recycler’ before there was such a word. We kept everything and eventually found a use for most things.  On weekends, Dad would invite several of the young, single G.I.s over for a day of hard work. They helped him build our garage and other needed structures, while Mom fed them a good home-cooked meal. This was a welcome opportunity for the men, so far away from home, many for the first time. For many years, Mom kept contact with these men as they married and raised families of their own.

By the end of the five years, we had torn down several old buildings and a few bridges in the area close to our home. We hauled the lumber and straightened the steel nails for reuse. I remember one particular building that had square beams which were held together by steel pegs. It had been used during the Civil War to hold captured prisoners. This was apparent by the shackles still on the walls beneath the main structure. One of Mom’s treasures was found there. It was a powdered Karo syrup can. My mom wrote to the company. Their response was that the records had been destroyed many years prior and there was no documentation of their brand of syrup ever being produced in a powdered form. Even the ‘old-timers’ she talked with were not familiar with it. She was very proud of the item and kept the typewriter written letter inside the steel can.

As I painting "Road to the Barn" I recalled those early years living in the Northeast. There were not many families living on a road very similar to the one in my painting, but each family had several children. We would visit and play as often as possible. On an Autumn day such as this one, I enjoyed watching the lively activity of the animals as they prepared for winter. The threshers were harvesting the wheat in the field just ahead as I picked the fall wildflowers that grew along the roadside. Everyone seemed to always be in a hurry to see what was over the next hill. They yelled at me, "Come on!" Soon they would be lost around a curve in the road as I absorbed every possible morsel ounce of nature. Time would pass fast enough, winter would be upon us and there would be another adventure to enjoy.