Updated: May 19, 2021
This picture I painted one day after sifting through a box of old photographs that belong to my parents. I chose this one not knowing the people in it nor did I have the correct location. Afterwards I take it to my parents house for them to see my art and my mother tells me that I have painted a picture of her mother in her grocer uniform outside of Reagan High school when she was a teenager. She was a cashier at Lewis and Koker groceries and this captured a perfectly classic moment in time that I have cherished for years without even knowing it was my maternal grandmother. I thought it was my mom's best friend but no, it is my MoMo. The lady on the left and her co-worker getting ready for work after school. I have loved every minute of learning about the people in the pictures I found. I am recognizing them now by name when I see them and that is helpful because I have a long way to go with all of these pictures.
This painting hangs in my mothers' bedroom for her to enjoy. She loves to look at her mother and it sparks a true joy for her making it all the more special for me that I randomly chose to paint it based on it being a fine example of Americana in the Houston Heights.
The school stands and serves the public still today making it a soft spot for me to think about and learn the history that makes me feel happy and complete in the sense of having a home base, a landing place. Listening to my dad tell his stories of growing up in the Heights in Houston. As his memory fades with old age and dementia his memory has focused on the years he spent growing up along these streets in Houston, Texas.
I don't have too many pictures of my maternal grandmother especially at this age. I think this picture represents the oldest picture I have of her. Momo to me was a grandma we saw on holidays mostly. She was a homebody and so is my mom so once we moved away from them they spoke by phone and we saw them not as much as my father's mother Minnie.
The memories I have of being at their home on 24th St. are fond. Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter with the cousins are absolutely burned into my mind forever. Playing Billy Goats Gruff on the bridge that crosses the ditch to the abandoned house next door with the completely overgrown front yard that we would duck and run through the vines up the sidewalk to the front porch of the home in great disrepair while cousins are deeply muttering "Trip Trap Trip Trap." I never made it onto the porch, being scared out of my whits, I would make a hard left on the sidewalk and boogie back to Momo and Papa's house. We would walk up the street to the 7-11 and everyone would get Slushies then walk to the park. My grandmother would make shrimp creole for Christmas every year and we still eat shrimp creole to this day. Something we look forward to each year and I have tried to make it on some other date in the past only to be disappointed. Must be about the moment.