Governor Declares State of Emergency

A state of emergency has been declared by Governor John Bel Edwards.  Louisiana is facing the potential impacts and further development of Tropical Storm Ida. According to the National Hurricane Center, this system is forecast to approach the northern Gulf Coast at or near major hurricane intensity Sunday. 

The Governor’s office issued a news release that said, “While there is some forecast uncertainty since the system is just forming, there is the potential for dangerous storm surge, damaging hurricane-force wind and heavy rainfall Sunday and Monday along the coast of Louisiana. A state of emergency is an administrative step that authorizes the use of state resources to aid in storm response efforts.”

The Emergency Operations Center at the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) is activated, monitoring the potential storm, and coordinating with both FEMA and parish offices of emergency preparedness.


Storm Headed Our Way

There is a storm brewing off our coast and it is forecast to impact Louisiana this coming weekend.  The map indicates our parish will see the most activity from the storm late Sunday to early Tuesday.  That tropical storm has now been named Ida and may reach hurricane strength before coming ashore.

The forecast for Red River parish from today through early next week is below.

Here is your local forecast:

Friday-A chance of showers between 1pm and 4pm, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 4pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 94. Heat index values as high as 102. Light east wind increasing to 5 to 10 mph in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Friday Night-A slight chance of thunderstorms before 7pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. East wind 5 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.

Saturday-A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 90. Southeast wind 5 to 10 mph.

Saturday Night-Mostly cloudy, with a low around 73.

Sunday-A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 1pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 92.

Sunday Night-A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 74.

Monday-A chance of showers, with thunderstorms also possible after 1pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 86. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

Monday Night-A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 72.

Tuesday-A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 90.

Tuesday Night-A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 73.

Wednesday-A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 93.

Governor John Bel Edwards is asking citizens to prepare ahead of the storm.  Edwards said, “Louisianans need to make sure they’re prepared for whatever the activity in the Gulf may bring to our shores. Visit getagameplan.org for planning information.  Be sure to stay tuned to your local news and the National Weather Service.

The Journal will update this story throughout the weekend as it could impact Red River Parish.


Riverdale Plays on Saturday

This week’s game for Riverdale Academy has been moved to Saturday night.  The game was originally scheduled for tonight, but their association made a change.

Stacy Greer at Riverdale told the Journal that MAIS is requiring all football teams to play a Saturday game.  And this week it is Riverdale’s turn.  So, Saturday night August 28th at 7:00 pm the Rebels will host Union Christian Academy (UCA) at home.


Motivational Speaker Got Students Moving

Dr. Fairest Hill came to Red River Schools Wednesday and Thursday.  Dr. Hill is a longtime advocate for students to reach their full potential regardless of any barriers placed in front of them. 

The Journal observed Hill in action at Red River Elementary Thursday morning.  He was upbeat, enthusiastic, and all over the gym.  Hill got the students up, moving and singing.  But it all had a message.

For the elementary students Hill use songs and cheers to get across his point.  They cheered for the elementary school to be an A+ school.  It went like this, “form C to B, and from B to A, this year we are going for A+”

The youngsters were challenged to learn and graduate from high school.  Go further, he said and go to college.  Hill’s ABCs to success were cheered from the bleachers in the gym.  Students shouted and sang and competed for a coveted prize, a box of Cracker Jack.  To win the prize they had to repeat three of the 5 ABCs to Success.  They are 1) Attitude, 2) Behavior, 3) Concentration, 4) Determination, and 5) Education.

All of the public schools were entertained and educated with his messages and through music on both campuses. Dr. Hill also provided an evening of music and learning on Thursday at 6:00 pm at Red River Elementary for Title I Parent Engagement evening.


Men of Courage Mission Trip

Shawn Beard of Red River Men of Courage said, “What a blessing is was to join nearly 100 Men representing 20 churches all across the Yucatán to kick of Hombres De Valor this past Saturday.  Such an honor to be a part of this Movement of God.”

Beard asked for continued prayers for these men as they’re already experiencing persecution for starting this gathering on the 3rd Saturday of every month, but who can stop the Lord Almighty?

Beard is scheduled to hold the September meeting of Man Church on Thursday, September 9th at the Shop on Highway 507.  Expect a full report on the mission trip at that event.


Election Commissioners Needed

The parish Clerk of Court’s office is seeking individuals to become election commissioners.  Chief Elections Deputy Denise Upshaw told the Journal people selected will serve in elections this year and in 2022.

Upshaw said, “We will only have one election in the Fall.  In 2022, we will have three elections, one in the Spring and two in the Fall.

All information is on the attached form below.


The Most Fun I Ever Had Fishing

By Steve Graf

I’ve been fishing tournaments since 1990 and have loved every minute with most of the guys or gals I’ve had the pleasure to fish with. I’ve participated in team and pro/am events and each format is unique unto itself. But one question I’ve been asked over the years, is what have I enjoyed the most? Well, my experience with team trails has been awesome and I have had the best partners an angler could ever ask for. Nothing is more fun than you and a buddy (team partner) going out and putting a pattern together and doing well. And nothing is more rewarding than crawling into the back of a touring pro’s boat and catching fish. Fishing at the highest level certainly has its rewards but it can also be your worst nightmare if you draw the wrong pro.

Some pros are super nice and will do whatever they can to help a co-angler catch fish. Then there are some who won’t give you the time of day even if they’re wearing a watch. But the majority of the pros are great guys who want to see their co-anglers succeed. I’ve always tried to make sure my co-anglers catch fish because I’ve been a co-angler myself before and know what’ it’s like to be ignored or even recognized that you’re in the boat. I’ve always looked at it like this… the co-angler that’s fishing in my boat has paid his hard-earned money to fish just like I have. But the difference is that my entry fee is double what the co-angler pays and that’s why you’re at the mercy of the pro/boater in a pro/am event as the pro/boater has complete control of the boat at all times. 

But to answer the question of my most rewarding year; was fishing as a co-angler on the FLW Tour in 2004. What an awesome experience that was to get in the boat with some of the best anglers on the planet and watch them work their magic. But the one thing I figured out real early, was that there is no magic…professional bass fishermen are on another level when it comes to skills like reading the water, understanding their electronics, not to mention their ability to cast and put baits in places average anglers would not even attempt. The skill level of the B.A.S.S. Elite and Major League Fishing (MLF) Series guys is off the chart and amazing to see in person. In 2004, I had the pleasure to fish with some of the best to ever wet a hook like former FLW and Basmaster Classic Champion Dion Hibdon, 2020 Elite Series Angler of the Year Clark Wendlandt, Japanese MLF Pro Shin Fukea and Texas MLF Pro Kelly Jordan. All of these guys were not only great anglers, but fine people as well. I learned a lot during my eight hours of fishing with each of these guys.

But why was 2004 the most fun I ever had fishing? First of all, I drew some of the top anglers on tour and caught a lot of fish behind these guys as I had three Top 10 finishes that year. But what I really enjoyed the most that year as a co-angler, I did not have to worry about all the details that come with fishing the pro/boater side. Co-anglers don’t have to worry about finding fish, putting gas in the boat, making sure they have enough oil in the reservoir, charging the batteries, or fixing and repairing things on the boat.  Co-anglers don’t have to worry about a blown tire on their boat trailer or the wheel bearings going out. All I had to do was show up, put my tackle in the boat and go fishing with the best anglers in America! Not a bad way to go fishing and enjoy the day while learning from the best in the business.

One thing that’s very disappointing to me in 2021, is that MLF (formerly FLW) and the B.A.S.S. Elite Series Pro Circuits have eliminated the co-angler. The Elite Series does have what they call the Marshall program which is where you can apply and pay to sit in the boat and observed all day.  But Major League Fishing (MLF) has not allowed that yet as their pros have a referee (who records each fish they catch) and a camera man. So, in the future when someone asks me “What’s the most fun you ever had fishing?” I’ll always reply 2004!  Till we meet again, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!!!


Magnolia Bend Adds Second Location

“We are thrilled to announce we are expanding and offering a new campus in Many, LA,” said Crystal Cummins of Magnolia Bend Academy.  She added, “It will be located at First Baptist Church in Many, LA.”

Cummins posted on social media that K-6th Grade will attend Monday-Wednesday

7th-12th will attend Monday-Tuesday 8:30-2:30.  First day of School is September 13. Last day is May 18. Thanksgiving Christmas and Spring break included.

The first meeting in Many is scheduled tonight.  Magnolia Bend Academy is located on Catfish Bend Road in south Red River Parish.


Family Eye Care

Since Family Eye Care opened an office in Coushatta it has been a busy place.  Dr. Pete Wardell is looking forward to serving even more Red River residents.

Wardell said, “I am so excited about our growth in Red River Parish.  Come see our new office in Coushatta.”

For your appointment, call 318-702-2100.  That’s Sloan Peacock and Angela White pictured above.  They can make your appointment to see Dr. Wardell or one of the other optometrists in the office daily.

Search social media for Family Eye Care and take the tour.  A sample is below.


Teacher Grants Through 4-H

Money is available for teachers that want to do an agriculture related project in their classroom.  That from Jacque Fontenot at Red River 4-H.  She supplied this information from National Agriculture in the Classrooms.

Do you have an idea for an agriculture-related classroom project? PreK-12th grade state-certified classroom teachers are eligible to apply for a 2021 CHS Foundation Classroom Grant. The grant can be used to fund projects that use agricultural literacy concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies, and more. Find more details and the application here: agclassroom.org/teacher/grants/


Join Red River 4-H

Our 2021-22 year is off and running starting with our At-Large Club enrollment meeting next Thursday at 3:30.  Share with all K-12 home school students that you know that live in Red River Parish!

RSVP by calling the office at 932-4342 or copying this link:  forms.gle/SBYBb8wavZcwp1kN6


ETC… For Friday, August 27th

A reminder from Clara Springs Camp, “We can’t wait to see you tonight, August 27th for our Fourth Friday Fish Fry.”

Journal readers, be on the lookout for email scammers.  In the past day the Journal has received notice that our new iPhone 12 has shipped, our new Apple computer has shipped, and that several other orders have been fulfilled.  They want to get you to reply to their email or click on a link.  Don’t be fooled!  Don’t get mad that you are being charged a bunch of money and try to straighten it out.  Just delete the email.  Protect yourself and your devices.

Red River 4-H is selling mums.  They are $20 and come in several colors.  Call 4-H at 932-4342 to order.  Mums will be in late in September.

Saturday is the Red River High Golf Scramble at the Coushatta Country Club.  Come out and enjoy a day of great golf.

Social Springs Community Water System is lifting the boil advisory.  They posted: “The South Well Boil Advisory has been Receinded.   Thanks for all y’all’s patience during this outage.”


Leslie Ray Ted Taylor

Leslie Ray Ted Taylor ‘s Homegoing Celebration service will be Sunday, August  29, 2021 at 1:00 pm at the Will of God West Campus (the old Grade school).  Viewing before the service is at 12:00 noon until 1:00 pm.

If your funeral home did not recommend publication of the obituary in the Red River Parish Journal, call 318-564-3609 for assistance.


Mary Alice Allison-Jones

Mrs. Mary Alice Allison-Jones

July 10, 1936 ~ August 20, 2021 (age 85)

The memorial service will be at 1:00 pm Friday, August 27th at the Winnfield Funeral Home Chapel in Shreveport.

We mourn the loss and Celebrate the Life & Legacy of Mrs. Mary Alice Allison-Jones, 85 of Coushatta, La.

Please keep the Allison-Jones Family lifted in your prayers.

 

If your funeral home did not recommend publication of the obituary in the Red River Parish Journal, call 318-564-3609 for assistance.


Chlora Lou (Hunter) Doyal

Celebration of life and going home service for Chlora Lou (Hunter) Doyal, ninety-one years old, will be held Thursday, August 26, 2021, at the Martin Baptist Church in Martin, LA at 1:00 PM with Reverend Richard Kaufman and son Rory Doyal officiating. Interment will follow at Martin Cemetery in Martin, LA. Visitation will be Wednesday, A. August 25, 2021 at Kilpatrick s Rose-Neath Funeral Home in Coushatta, LA, beginning at 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM. 

Chlora Lou was born July 18, 1930, in Coushatta, LA to William Leslie Hunter and Chlotielde Rawls Hunter. She went home to be with her Lord and Savior on August 23, 2021, in Martin, LA. She was a retired social worker for the state of Louisiana in Red River Parish for the majority of her adult life. A pillar of Martin Baptist Church and the Martin community, Lou loved her Lord and Savior and was a devout Christian, even teaching Sunday school classes throughout her life. The family matriarch, she loved and is loved by her children, grandchildren, greatgrandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. Remembered by all for her love of crocheting, gardening, cooking for the family, and her children and grandchildren s 4-H projects. Her grandchildren loved having morning pancakes and waffles with Mammaw. She also loved the fellowship of holidays; especially Christmas — making and hanging stockings for each family member, while greeting callers on Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve s Gift”. 

She will be dearly missed by family and friends.

Preceding her in death, her husband Billy Joe Doyal, great-grandson Joshua Chance Jones, parents; William Leslie and Chlotielde Rawls Hunter; brothers William Leslie Hunter Jr, John Clifton Hunter. 

Left to cherish her memory are her children; sons Rusty Doyal and wife Erlinda of Kingsland GA, Rick Doyal and wife, Sharon of Mansfield, LA, Rodney Doyal and wife Paula of Benton, LA, and Rory Doyal and wife Irwina Liaw of Santa Barbara, CA. Daughter Jo Doyal Rambin and Marvin of Martin, LA. Siblings; Vernelle Hunter Rasmussen, and Ed Hunter. Grandchildren: Misty Rambin Jones, Chance Doyal, Richard Doyal, Jana Rambin Bounds, Jill Doyal Craft, Hollie Adams, Sarah-Beth Bump, Colton Doyal, Dustie Jo Rambin Gibson, Kaitlyn Doyal, Caroline Youngblood, Robert Clubine, Kenny Clubine. Sixteen great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren 

Serving pallbearers; Chance Doyal, Richard Doyal, Colton Doyal, Chris Jones, Randall Bounds, Trey Craft, Zack Gibson, Brian Bump, and Mark Adams

Honorary pallbearers; Chaston Doyal, Jacob Jones, Porter Doyal, Brody Adams, Cash Doyal, Asher Craft, and Logan Bounds

In place of flowers, the family request memorials are made to the Shriner s Children Hospital of Shreveport in memory of Chlora Lou Doyal, in honor of Joshua Jones. 


Big Boy Goes Roaring Through

Monday afternoon Big Boy 4014 rolled through Armistead on the way from Natchitoches to Shreveport.  The train made a stop at the old Railroad Depot in Natchitoches on Monday.

The train stopped briefly just north of Red River Parish to take on water so it could complete the run to Shreveport.  You may remember the trackside water tanks along the route through our area.  The large concrete supports for the legs can still be seen just south of Powhatan.

Twenty-five Big Boys were built exclusively for Union Pacific Railroad, the first of which was delivered in 1941. The locomotives were 132 feet long and weighed 1.2 million pounds. Because of their great length, the frames of the Big Boys were “hinged,” or articulated, to allow them to negotiate curves. They had a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement, which meant they had four wheels on the leading set of “pilot” wheels which guided the engine, eight drivers, another set of eight drivers, and four wheels following which supported the rear of the locomotive. The massive engines normally operated between Ogden, Utah, and Cheyenne, Wyo.

There are seven Big Boys on public display in various cities around the country. They can be found in St. Louis, Missouri; Dallas, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; Denver, Colorado; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The train that came through Red River is Big Boy No. 4014, which was first delivered to Union Pacific in December 1941. The locomotive was retired in December 1961, having traveled 1,031,205 miles in its 20 years in service.  Union Pacific reacquired No. 4014 from the RailGiants Museum in Pomona, California, in 2013, and relocated it back to Cheyenne to begin a multi-year restoration process. It returned to service in May 2019 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad’s Completion.


Church Pastor Installed

Members of Summer Hill Baptist Church and several other area churches packed into the church Sunday afternoon for the Pastoral Installation for Martin Fitzgerald Washington, Sr.  There were many remembrances of Washington as a child, a young boy and young man growing up in Sumer Hill.

The installation sermon was from Dr. Clyde W. McCray.  McCray said, “I am honored to be asked to come and share in the installation of your pastor.”  But McCray was quick to add, “God sanctified and ordained Martin Washington as pastor of Summer Hill Church.”

McCray spoke on the characteristics of a true preacher.  He quoted Paul who wrote to churches when Christianity was less than 100 years old, advice McCray said is just as applicable today, 2000 years later.  McCray spoke of “two kinds of preachers, true preachers and false preachers.  And there are two kinds of spirits, the spirit of God and of the anti-Christ.” He added, “It’s not biblical, full gospel and the prosperity gospel.  There is just the Gospel.  There is no room for ‘I know what it says, but.  It is not open for my opinion.”

Speaking to Washington, Dr. McCray said, “The test of a man’s ministry is not what is popular, and it is not miraculous signs and wonders.  The test is his faithfulness to the word of God.”

Washington’s wife Angelia spoke of her and Martin growing up at Summer Hill.  She said, “This is just a blessing, this is where we grew up, we both accepted Jesus Christ on the same day.  Who knew we would come back as pastor and first lady?”

As the installation concluded, Martin Washington took the microphone.  “I am honored to see those I grew up with here.  They are the ones who really know you.” He humbly thanked the church and his other friends in attendance for welcoming him home.


Editorial:  Hide It In Plain Sight

By John Brewer, Editor.

This week the Journal received the sample ballot for the October 9th election in Red River Parish.  It is unreadable on your digital device.  Mine too!  So here are some editorial thoughts on the situation.

The sample ballot was sent by:

Julie Chism Morales

Election Program Specialist

Elections Business Division

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin

(Phone) 225-922-0900

(Fax) 225-922-0945

Your editor found it interesting that there are restrictions on publishing the sample ballot they furnished.  Here is the warning attached to Ms Morales’ email:

“By opening the attached sample ballot file in this email, you are agreeing not to edit, alter, modify or prepare any derivative works of the content of the sample ballot pdf of the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office. Any improper use of the sample ballot pdf is strictly prohibited and subject to proper legal action under R.S. 18:1461.2.”

The Journal is not interested in running afoul of the law by making the information on that sample ballot readable by you.  It would be easy to edit out all the white space and just present what is on the ballot.  But that is not allowed by state law.

See the image below.  There is a little bit of text, which is what will be on the ballot, and a whole lot of white space.  By publishing all that white space, the text is “smalled down” so as to be practically unreadable on your handheld or even desktop device.

The Journal called Ms Morales.  Her response was, “That is the way it will look on the voting machine.”  But the voting machine screen is a couple of feet wide and tall.  The information is readable once you get into the voting booth.

Your Editor believes in the free exchange of information however I question why this state agency in effect hides the information in plain sight by the method of presentation.

We talked with John Tolbert in the Secretary of State’s Office.  He said, “I can’t change what the legislature enacted.  I understand what you are saying (the size of the text vs the size of the whole image) but I cannot authorize any altering of the image.”

In our discussion, Tolbert explained that the legislature  wanted to assure that there was no editing of the sample ballot, which could result in wrong or misleading information being presented as fact.  That is a great idea.  But the presentation method in effect denies readers of The Journal the ability to see what the sample ballot says.

This sample ballot deals with an election in October.  And the only items on the ballot in this parish are four constitutional amendments.  The Journal will get around the law against altering the sample ballot by presenting the information in another form.  We will do it closer to election date. And we will get you the information in a timely and legible manner.

Below is an explanation of the amendments that will be on the October ballot.  It was furnished by 22nd District Representative Gabe Firment.

The Journal will not hide it in plain sight! 

Here is the sample ballot furnished by the state agency:

This is the information from Rep Firment

Saturday is Coushatta Car Show

There will be an open car show this Saturday on Front Street.  Autos, trucks, bikes, rat rods and other vehicles are invited to this show and shine.

Organizer Scott Bamburg told the Journal there will be two bounce houses for the kids.  And he said Moonshiner Patty will be there signing autographs.

There is no fee to enter vehicle and the public is invited at no charge.  Participants in the show land shine will be eligible to win several awards, including the People’s Choice award, a Sponsor’s Choice award, and a trophy will be given for the car club sending the most vehicles.

The event begins at 11:00 am and runs until 4:00 pm.  Cars and vendors will be on Front Street, which will be closed to traffic.


Rebels Loose Heartbreaker in Overtime

By Molly Seales

On Friday night, August 20, two tough teams battled it out at Marston Stadium in East Point. The visiting Prairie View Spartans, who are ranked #4 in the MAIS Preseason Coach’s Poll, proved to be just a little too much for the Rebels.  The score was tied 26-26 after regulation, so the game went into overtime. The Rebels got the ball first but failed to score on their possession. However, the Spartans were able to score a touchdown on their first possession, so they defeated the Rebels by a score of 32-26. The Rebels did some good things on offense and defense.

The Rebel offense had a total of 355 yards and 4 touchdowns. Sophomore Ryder Huddleston was 5/12 in passing for the night for 56 yards and one touchdown.  Huddleston also had 19 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown. Senior Monroe McCarty had 11 carries for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns, while senior Jake Messenger had 10 carries for 61 yards. Junior Ben Almond had 2 carries for 10 yards, and sophomore Kyle Guillory had 1 carry for 13 yards.  Guillory also had 1 reception for 5 yards.  McCarty had 1 reception for 9 yards, and Messenger had 1 reception for 25 yards. Senior Ty “Bones” Jones had 3 receptions for 17 yards and 1 touchdown.

The defense fought hard as well.  McCarty had 5 solo tackles, 4 assists, and 1 interception. Jones had 4 solo tackles and 5 assists, including 3 TFL. Messenger had 4 assists and 2 PBU, while Junior James Wagoner had 1 PBU. Almond had 3 solo tackles, 2 assists, 1 interception, and 3 PBU.  Guillory had 2 solo tackles, 4 assists, and 1 PBU, while Huddleston had 2 solo tackles, 4 assists (1 TFL,) and 1 PBU. Senior Denver Williams had 4 solo tackles, 1 assist (1 TFL,) and 1 PBU.  Junior Tyler Parker rounded out the defensive effort with 2 assists (1 TFL.)

This week the Rebels will be at home again, this time against Union Christian Academy.  Please note that this week’s game will be on SATURDAY, August 28 instead of Friday.  Kickoff will be at 7:00 p.m. in East Point.  Come out and support these Rebels if you can!


The Right Face

By Brad Dison

American Gothic is one of only a few paintings which has transcended being merely a painting and has become a cultural icon.  Like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Edvard Munch’s The Scream and James McNeill Whistler’s Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1, commonly known as Whistler’s Mother, American Gothic has become one of the most famous paintings in the world.

In the summer of 1930, Grant Wood, a painter from Cedar Rapids, Michigan, was riding with a friend and fellow painter named John Sharp through the town of Eldon, Iowa.  The two painters were looking for inspiration when Grant spotted a little farmhouse with a distinctive upper window.  Grant later explained he “saw such an American Gothic house in southern Iowa, and I imagined American Gothic people with their faces stretched out long, to go with it.”

Grant made a quick sketch of the house on the back of an envelope.  On the following day, Grant got the permission of the homeowners and made a more detailed sketch with oil paints from the front yard.  Grant never saw the house again.  Back in his studio, Grant began painting the gothic farmhouse.  Needing more detail, he requested and received a photograph of the house from the homeowners.  Throughout the process of painting the house, the background in the painting, he considered who he would get to be the male and female models for the people in the painting.

He took great care in picking the female model because he needed someone who would be unoffended by his stretching her face in the painting.  After considering several friends and family members, he settled on Nan Graham.  Grant said Nan’s, “face is nearly as round as mine, so I had to do a great deal of stretching.”

Grant struggled to find the right face for the male figure for his painting, a struggle which had held up the works of other famous artists.  While painting the Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci had trouble finding the right face for Judas, which he said had to be villainous.  Leonardo spent days walking the streets of Milan, Italy in search of just the right face.  Each face he saw was eliminated for one reason or another until he finally found his Judas.  Similarly, Grant looked carefully at every man he met and considered everyone he knew.  Years before Grant had the idea for the painting, Byron McKeeby had built a bridge for him.  Grant, somewhat of a starving artist, traded a bridge for a bridge.  In lieu of payment, Byron accepted a painting by Grant of a famous bridge in Paris.  Byron had just the right face for Grant’s painting.  With little convincing, Byron agreed to be the male model for Grant’s American Gothic.  A short while later, Grant finished the painting.

In October of 1930, the Art Institute of Chicago accepted two of Grant’s paintings, Stone City and American Gothic, for inclusion in their annual American Artists exposition.  Hundreds of paintings were submitted and rejected.  The Art Institute would accept no more than two paintings each year from the same artist.  For Grant to have two entries accepted was an exceptional honor.  In addition, Grant won the coveted Norman Wait Harris bronze medal and a cash prize of $300 for American Gothic.  Newspapers at the time described it as “a painting of a Gothic type of home at Eldon, IA with two imaginary figures of the artist’s conception of Gothic individuals in the foreground.”

When the exhibition opened, American Gothic became an instant hit.  Newspapers throughout the United States published photographs of the painting and incorrectly described the subjects in the foreground as being of a farmer and his wife.  Wood set the record straight and explained that it was a farmer and his daughter.  In late November, Wood learned that the Friends of American Art had purchased American Gothic for inclusion in the Art Institute of Chicago’s permanent collection.

Not all who saw the painting were impressed.  Mrs. Earl Robinson of Collins, Iowa suggested the artist “hang the portrait in one of our Iowa cheese factories because the woman’s face would positively sour milk.”  In response, Mrs. Nan Graham, the lady in the painting, said she was proud to have been the model for the painting and retorted, “I wish that jealous woman would send me her photograph.  I have a very appropriate place to hang it.”  The lady in the painting whom Grant carefully selected was his younger sister. 

Byron McKeeby, uncomfortable with the publicity he received from the painting, said all of the publicity should go to Grant.  For five years Byron refused to admit his connection with the painting.  “Grant chose the face, I didn’t,” he said with his usual warm smile.  It was true that Grant traded a bridge for a bridge.  Byron builds Grant a bridge and Grant gave Byron a painting of a famous bridge he had painted in Paris, a painting which is now much more valuable than the bridge Byron made for Grant.  You see, Byron was Dr. Byron McKeeby, Grant Wood’s dentist.

Sources:

  1. The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), October 28, 1930, p. 5.
  2. The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), October 29, 1930, p. 19.
  3. The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), November 27, 1930, p. 12.
  4. The Des Moines Register, December 28, 1930, p.39.
  5. The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), January 25, 1931, p.4.
  6. The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), February 28, 1931, p.5.
  7. The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), March 24, 1935, p.4.