“First Street Morning”

“First Street Morning”, by Robert Leedy, 2000, watercolor on paper,  Collection of Mr. & Mrs. George Bernard, Lima, Peru
“First Street Morning”,
by Robert Leedy, 2000,
watercolor on paper,
Collection of Mr. & Mrs. George Bernard, Lima, Peru

When Vicky & I moved to Evansville, Indiana, our Realtor tried to steer us towards one of the many, newer, cookie-cutter neighborhoods that were cropping up on the outskirts of town. I feared not being able to find my house on a street where all of the homes looked the same. While on our first house hunting trip from Buenos Aires, we stayed at a hotel located in downtown Evansville. I would take walks down First Street and marveled at the beautiful, old homes in the area. I asked my Realtor about the Historic District’s neighborhood. She told me it was crime-ridden and undesirable for families – which made the homes difficult for resale. Later that week, Vicky & I rode by one of the homes in the neighborhood; one particular house had large windows; it was early evening and the owners were hosting a dinner party. We could see a large abstract painting on the wall in the dining room and the guests seemed to be having a good time. “That looks like a really cool house,” I told my wife.

Weeks later, after we made the physical move, we lived in an apartment until we found a house to buy. We already had looked at what seemed a hundred or more homes. I was very tired of the process. One night, I drove through the charming downtown residential district. I passed “The Dinner Party House” and slammed on the brakes when I realized there was a For Sale sign out front. I called my Realtor to get her to check up on it. The next day she informed me that there were no houses for sale listed on that street. I insisted and got her to drive by to see for herself. Sure enough, it was for sale and it fell into our price range. We toured the house and immediately fell in love with it. We felt connected to it instantly! We put an offer in and eventually purchased the home.

I later learned an interesting bit of history on the house from the seller’s agent: The house was one of the “newer” homes in the neighborhood having been built in the early 1920’s. Most of the other homes were Victorian or built around the turn of the century. Ours was an Italian / Mediterranean-styled stucco design with a barrel tile roof. She told me the original owner was a local attorney and gave me some photocopies of newspaper articles about the house. It turns out the owner & I shared the same birthday AND he died the year I was born. [insert scary music, please.]

Vicky & I loved that house. Not only was the neighborhood crime free (all of the criminals were actually out in the cookie cutter burbs), the neighbors were wonderful people. We entertained often and it was a great house for a party. Although we eventually moved to Paris and excitement about that was high, we hated leaving our wonderful home at 100 Mulberry Street.

I painted “First Street Mornings” a few houses down from our corner lot on Mulberry & First Streets. The colors are rather different for me but I like the painting a lot. I feel I captured the morning light and there is a nice balance of warm and cool colors. I especially like the rich, buttery yellows in the dormer windows. The various windows have different things going on in terms of shapes and color which adds to the visual interest.

Our good friends, George & Tere Bernard, bought the painting just before their move to Caracas, Venezuela. During the move, the container sat in port at Caracas and was broken into by vandals. George later described to me what was stolen.

“Did they get the painting?” I asked, referring to mine.

“Oh no,” George said, “it is safe because it was most likely buried further back into the container where they couldn’t get to.”

“Darn!” I said, clearly disappointed.

“Why does that bother you?” George asked with a puzzled look.


George & Tere now live in Lima, Peru. A few nights ago when I heard about the earthquake, I emailed Tere to ask if they were OK. She said the tremors were frightening and lasted nearly two minutes. Everyone was OK and there was minor damage to their house.

I asked the inevitable question.

Yes, it survived the earthquake!

About this entry