Remember Now Thy Creator
I passed by this colorful wood stove many times with an idea in my heart, until one day I stopped to ask about it. Through the crack in the door locked by a chain, I caught the dark brown eyes of a black lady. She asked if I wanted to know about her stove? I answered yes, and she immediately raised her hand and voice, declaring, “It ain’t for sale!” I quickly told her I was a minister and artist who was interested in paining it and wondered if it had a story. That’s when the lady took off the chain, threw the door open and introduced herself as “Miss Below.” Then she ushered me into her small, three room home, poured me a southern glass of iced tea, and spent an afternoon reminiscing how her father worked “two year of Saturday’s at a feed store to buy mama that stove. Yes uh, it made Mama real proud. Finest stove any black family ever owned…” she shared, staring back in time. “Why it was the center of the house. We cooked, we bathed, we kept warm all winter by that stove. And many an evening we kids get down on the floor to read along with Mama from the ‘Good Book’–– the Bible. But I reckon my best memories was coming home from school smelling Mama’s buttermilk biscuits or pound cake.” She told me many stories about that old stove, but then with tear filled eyes, she said, “Yes, I just can’t sell that antique stove, cause to part with that stove would be like parting with my Mama.”
I knew I had to paint Miss Below’s stove, so that it would always remind me of those simpler days and the pleasure of growing up around my Grandma’s old stove during my youth.