Company, cousins, home cooking, and conversation, ingredients for a satisfying evening of reconnecting with people and stories long missed. My cousin Evelyn sets a table that many look forward to, none more than myself. Stuffed salmon and broccoli salad, my mouth waters.
In the den with coffee later, talk turned to Louisiana architect A. Hays Town and a book of his sketches, The Architectural Style of A. Hays Town. My cousins were longtime friends of Mr Hays and his family, and for many years were involved in his building, providing the millwork for dozens of his projects. Our conversation took an intriguing turn when Evelyn told us a story that ended with a treasure revealed.
A painting done to commemorate a trip down Bayou Teche in 1919. The steamboat is the Suwannee, a lumber boat of the Williams Lumber Company.
In conversation one day, Mr Town mentioned to his millwork consultant (Evelyn’s husband) that he had for some years been painting pictures as a hobby. His remark was something along the lines of, “I’ve been painting these pictures—memories of childhood—the past few years and don’t have anything to do with them. Think I’ll use the pictures for my Christmas cards.”
Evelyn said she had a stack of Christmas cards from A. Hays Town, and for a moment there my mouth hung open. A few minutes later she brought out from a cabinet eleven of those cards and for the next half hour we pored over the cards, the images and the handwritten seasonal wishes of Christmases past from the architect-painter.
This painting shows a house with chimney somewhere along the bayou.
A top of the line Nikon camera would have been ideal, but with nothing more than an iPhone and ordinary lighting I started clicking the shutter.
Some of the cards include no information about the cover image and that omission leaves the what, where and when to guesswork.
A few of the personal notes inside the cards