We never stopped at the jewelry counter of Jordan Marsh. We simply and, I thought, hurriedly, passed it by on our way in or out. But the gems within captured my fascination and held it so tightly that I truly believed the natural order of the world would be best served by my having ownership of them. There was no desire to wear them around and cause pangs of jealousy from my enemies in the schoolyard; it was just a primal impulse to possess them.
I was reminded of an echo of that feeling when I spent the night at the Oliver Wight house.
I knew they had a Rufus Porter mural there, but not until I walked through the large old door and my eyes adjusted to the cool darkness of the hallway did I realize that it wasn’t on special display, guarded under glass or behind velvet ropes. There would be no guard approaching from the corner of the room to banish my camera, no visitors at my shoulder to apportion the view (or my personal favorite, read aloud)
There was not a soul around, and I was free to get as close as I wanted, to examine it at my leisure and take as many pictures as I chose. I could discuss out loud with Mr Bebe different points of interest which,I am sure, pleased him to no end. It was mine -all mine. Like ye olde canopy bed I would sleep in upstairs, this belonged to me, if only for one night.
An ambitious renaissance man and rumored to be the inspiration for Twain’s Connecticut Yankee, Rufus Porter was not only a popular folk art muralist and portraitist, but a teacher, a traveler, a writer, a poet, a publisher, and a keen inventor. He held over 25 patents and he started Scientific American magazine. He taught painting, opened a dance school, invented the revolver, designed an airship, wrote poetry and worked his entire life devising mechanical improvements for agricultural, military and transportation machinery
He spent several years wandering up and down the East Coast with his painting gear. He did some portraits but the bulk of his work was on the walls of private homes and public hostelries exchanging work for lodging. At some point in his travels, he stopped into an Inn in Massachusetts where, almost 200 years later, Bebe would rest her head.
*(the lighting was quite poor so the picture quality is inconsistent, Im afraid. Mr Bebe held open the door to let in more natural light which helped for some areas but not all.)
nota bene: Bebe is not adverse to having a Rufus all to herself at an inn…
for Blue Booby: