FRANKLY. I did not know how to pay Mr. Titian the $12,000 that his portrait of me actually cost. I think that was his name: no matter, he did a fine portrait and of course it had to be paid for.
This was years ago. I mention it now only because it sheds light on the old days, and on the tremendous bond of love and loyalty that used to exist between the employer and the employed.
Oddly, I heard on the radio or somewhere just recently that some fellow or other in public life was taking a lot of yap because an employe of his paid for his portrait and some prissy folk are hinting this may not have been a good thing.
I don't know about any of that, but I do know how old Hattie paid for my portrait and it is a warm lovely example of how things used to be, and may even be now in rare cases.
You see this local society asked me for a snapshot for the main meeting room and I smiled, because if it's worth doing at all, it's worth doing right, and I didn't want some amateur. To Honor the society I got he best painter I ever heard of.
It was a trifling sum, yes but whether you can believe it or not. I her quite well and she did not, after simply did not have the cash. My cook said.
"Thank the Lord you asked me, Mr Henry. I sure do want to pay for that picture."
"Well, you will wonder how the cook could pay for it when I couldn't. But you must know we always paid her quite will and she did not, after all, have any expenses to speak of.
Just here let me warn you not to imagine our society in those days was perfect, No, really it was not. We used to hear ugly talk from time to time in the neighborhood about hanging the cook's old daddy for something or other. Of course we put a stop to it. Right now.
She seemed so grateful for some reason, yet one often had the occasion to do little things. But to get on with the portrait:
She paid the whole thing.
Her husband worked as a groundskeeper, I think, and their children collected and cracked walnuts and in no time at all the sum was raised.
The thing we all appreciated so much was the sense of loyalty and affection it expressed. We well deserved it, I suppose, but still it touched my heart.
Nor am I ashamed for people to know the cook paid for my portrait in the Buddies of Justice Hall.
People may reproach me for "democratic notions" and I do not deny I have them. But I could see at the time what others could not: that it meant the world to the cook to have a part in this project.
Well, that was long ago and the world has changed. There is something to be said for the new order, I don't deny it. And yet so much has been lost along the way.
What cook nowadays would leap at the chance to do something like that?
And what boss, nowadays, is in any position to rejoice the heart of old Hattie, as I did so long ago, by letting her make her own little contribution? Hattie's mite. That old lamb.