All of my life, I have had the reputation of being tenacious. . .it is almost impossible for me "to give up." I'll keep on something until I've succeeded. Now, I must also admit that I am most discerning in my tenacity. Some things just don't interest me and, if after one attempt, I have not mastered or completed the task, I don't try again. Case in point: I tried doing the Rubik Cube once; I failed, so that was it! However, I am still trying to catch a dollar bill that's been dropped straight down, doing so with my forefinger and thumb. I haven't done it so far, but I keep trying.
We are all familiar with Charlie Brown and his friend Lucy. Poor Charlie tries every year to kick the football. He keep inviting Lucy to hold it. . .every year. She does. Just as Charlie is approaching the ball, Lucy pulls it away and Charlie falls flat on his posterior. . .as he does every year!
I read somewhere that the sure sign of insanity is trying to do something the same way time after time and expecting a different outcome! My mother used to tell the story about a lady who was given a test to see whether or not she was crazy. They locked her in a room with nothing but a mop and a water spigot on the wall. They turned the water on and left. If the lady started mopping up the water, she was kept in the asylum. If she turned off the water at the spigot, they let her go. All of my life, when I did something a bit off-center, Mama would say, "Ann, you're mopping water"!
Well, I may be mopping water on this tenacious activity, but for much of my adult life, I have been looking for a picture. . .a portrait. And here are the particulars! My grandmother and grandfather married in Columbia, MS in 1906. About that time, my very fashionable grandmother was photographed in a beautiful outfit, hat, and parasol. . .all of which she made. I can only deduce that the portrait was taken in Columbia. However, many years later, when my mother (my grandmother's youngest) was a teen-ager and living in New Orleans, Mama would go downtown "window shopping" on Canal Street with her sisters or her friends.
One day, she and her companions passed by the window of a photographer on the River end of Canal, and my mother saw a very large portrait of a lady in a beautiful old fashioned dress, hat, and parasol that was hand-colored pink and was in a large exquisite frame. It was my grandmother! Mama had seen the original smaller photo many times, and she recognized it immediately. She and the others went into the shop and found out that it was named WHEN MOTHER WAS A GIRL and it was for sale. I was never told the amount, but I know it was too much for my mother's family to buy. Therefore, ever since I heard that story, I have searched for that large portrait.
As you can imagine, it has been almost impossible before the advent of the internet. However, I've had no success on that search aid either. I can't tell you how many antique shops I've visited. I have attended and have my look-outs at auctions. I've even looked in some of the majestic homes in New Orleans, either as a guest or as a paying member of a tour. No luck. I do realize that it doesn't have to be in this city. It could have been destroyed by fire or hurricane. There are many scenarios that I can imagine happened to the picture, but I keep trying!
I almost gave up looking several years ago, but I serendipitously found another object I had sort of been looking for. My aunt had been teaching in Gulfport, MS. One of her first grade students gave her a beautiful, Japanese tea cup. It was egg-shell thin porcelain, beautifully decorated, and had a "magic picture" at the bottom of a Geisha girl. The process of creating a portrait in thin porcelain is known as lithophane. Somehow, my aunt's teacup got a small crack in it, and my aunt was devastated. As I looked for my grandmother's portrait, I looked also for another cup like the one Aunt Mary had. One day, on Canal Street, in the window of a shop, I found NOT one cup like my aunt's, but an entire tea set of the same pattern, including lithophanes. It included six cups, six saucers, a teapot, a sugar bowl, and a creamer. I bought the entire set, and I was so proud to present it to my aunt. A few years later, before she died, she gave it back to me. The set has started my passion of collecting lithophanes. I love it dearly, yet finding it re-sparked and encouraged my search for my grandmother's portrait.
I may never find the portrait and, perhaps, no one in my family will take on the search when I'm gone, but it has not all been in vain. In addition to the teacup, I have found many interesting things along the way, tangible and intangible. By the way, I just learned of a website online. It is called google images and one can try to match by sight or description, images they are seeking. I have spent hours, scrolling through these images.
Yes, I may be the poster child for insanity. . .looking for the impossible needle in the proverbial haystack, but, perhaps, you can help me. I've posted a photo of the original. If in your travels, you come across it, please let me know or obtain it and let me know. You'll be reimbursed by my family or me. . .unless, of course, it is more than a hundred dollars; then, you'll just have to tell me where it is so that I can VISIT it!!!