She drowned in Lake Michigan

Madeline by a Car

The short story is Madeline drowned in Lake Michigan.

I’m sure these is a long story but who has time for details?

She never married. She was the strange women that lived next door. She was senile.

Every community has someone like Madeline.

I’m sure she lived the same way she died: the subject of much gossip and alone. Her life – and death – allowing for endless speculation.

The gossip in Racine probably lasted well longer than her wake.

After she was found, her kin raided her house and pitched everything they didn’t think had “value”. Among other things, clothing, dishes and lamps were piled on the curb waiting for the trash pick-up. Basically the flotsam of a life lived.

Her photo album, a lifetime of laughter, fun and memorable experiences, carelessly tossed in the garbage can too.

So not only would Madeline be lost but so would her memories – crushed beneath the flotsam of other people’s lives.

Except that is not what happened. It is because of the compassion and heart of Michael V. and Cynthia C. from Racine, Wisconsin, Maddie lives…or at least a moment of her life lives.

See Michael was Madeline’s neighbor, and Michael has a soul. He fished Maddie’s photo album out of the trash and took it home. He probably thought, “What am I going to do with this?!” but took it home anyway and placed it on a shelf.

Regular Dinner

I met Michael and Cynthia at The Lakefront Festival of the Arts in Racine. They purchased my print of The Regular Dinner and we talked about some of their old photos.

They returned the next day, gave me her album and introduced me to Madeline…and that is when I fell in love.

The the moment I saw her I saw someone special. Through her photos I met a girl with a warm honest smile and sense of adventure. Her ghost spoke to me. As such, I took Maddie home and gave her a place, a history and a future.

There is more, but as I said, who has time for details?

Servi-Cars and Billboards – A woman from the 1930’s sitting on a Harley Davidson Servi-Car.

Madeline is the beauty with the smile of the Cheshire cat sitting on a Harley Davidson Servi-car in front of a 7-Up billboard.

The original painting was 36″ x 48″ and bought by a good family at The Bellevue Arts Fair in Washington in 2010.

At the 2012 Indianapolis Arts Center’s Broad Ripple Art Fair May 19th and 20th several people took Maddie home with her. It was the most popular fine art print at this show.

It happens. Different communities. Different cultures. Different people. Everyone sees something different in Maddie.

What matters to me, and the wonderful thing about my art, is that people are touched by it for different reasons. Photos end up in books, on shelves and in small frames. Paintings end up hanging on walls greeting you as you walk down the hall or watching over you at dinner.

In truth, as long as someone hangs Maddie on a wall that moment in Maddie’s life will continue to live and how she died is unimportant.

And as I said, the details don’t really matter.

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6 thoughts on “She drowned in Lake Michigan

  1. I collect old photos too and it always breaks my heart to see documented memories just thrown in the trash. These people were loved at one time. They had families and many still do. Maybe I am overly sentimental but it tugs at my heart strings. Thanks for sharing your story. I am going to share with my readers. Have an awesome weekend. DeDe @vintageandflea.com

  2. Hi Christine, thanks for sharing this story and for the beautiful art that you create. I really enjoyed meeting you and viewing your art at the Broad Ripple Art Fair. I also enjoyed hearing your friends advice on where to find great vintage hats! I’ll post your blog on my facebook and see if I can send a little blog love your way! Take care~ Bret

  3. I always find it so sad when I go to estate sales and old family photos are just tossed aside as if they have no meaning at all. I collect them too. I guess one day I’ll need to mark those boxes so my kids don’t think they’re long lost relatives… but they are just too hard to walk away from because I know that if I leave them there, they will just end up in the trash after the sale is over. I loved your story… and that you have included Madeline in your work. I think she would love your paintings!

  4. Pingback: Three Suggestions for Success | The Vintage Painter

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