Nyack Sketch Log: William Prime Batson

Every morning for the last year, I have created a watercolor portrait of my father, William Prime Batson. I started the project on his 90th birthday on October 22, 2011. On Sunday, October 21, 2012, I completed my 366th painting.

Physically, my father is robust: cognitively he is in decline. He doesn’t know my name, or our relationship, but the bond between us is strong. He seems to particularly enjoy our 6:00 am portrait painting sessions. You can’t see his eyes in any of my paintings because he is concentrating on the delicious breakfast I serve: hot cereal with apples and prunes, toast and juice.

Here is a selection of my favorite pieces from the 366-day tribute. If you click on the image, you can see the rest of the paintings from that month. Eventually, I would like to find a space to exhibit the paintings side-by-side. I also hope to find a way to use these portraits to encourage the discussion and consideration of elder care issues.

October 22, 2011 #1

My father, William Prime Batson, grew up in a home at 23 Jackson Avenue, between South Broadway and South Franklin, that was demolished by Urban Renewal in the early 1960’s.

November 18, 2011 #28

His friends call him Prime.

December 26, 2011 #66

He remembers the Hudson River freezing to a thickness that allowed people to walk across to Tarrytown.

January 27, 2012 #98

He graduated from Nyack High School, lettering in Basketball and Track.

February 22, 2012 #124

He tried out for the Harlem Globe Trotters.

March 23, 2012 #154

He served in World War II in the Signal Corps in Italy and Germany.

April 1, 2012 #163

After the war, he opened a coffee shop with his sister, Frances Adeline Batson, in Paterson, NJ, where he met my mother.

May 23, 2012 #215

He worked for thirty years at Curtis-Wright in Lodi, New Jersey, a factory that made airplane engines.

June 24, 2012 #247

He was an active member of the United Auto Workers (UAW)

July 9, 2012 #262

He had a daily copy of the New York Times reserved for him at Jerry’s Soda Shop on Main Street.

August 27, 2012 #311

For many years, he voluntarily mowed the grass around the Community Garden at Depew Ave. and Franklin St.

September 25, 2012 #340

He spent ten years working for the Nyack Water Department after his factory closed. His sister, Frances Adeline, was the Deputy Village Clerk.

October 21, 2012 #366

Yesterday, October 22, 2012, he turned 91.

Happy Birthday Dad!

I want to acknowledge my cousin, Sylvia Peterson for her loving attention and dedication to her uncle Prime.

Photo Credit: Janae Peterson (The shot of Dad and I is her first published photo. She’s ten years old!)

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