Yes. To your first question – Jack Daniel, was the name of my grandfather on my mom’s side not some Tennessee whiskey..
He was born in 1918 in Cleburne, Texas. I knew him better as Granddaddy. My strongest memories of him were his glowing blue eyes and his long “Gooood nights!”. Yet, there was a part of him that is a mystery in my memories – a myth as much as any of those strange Palestinian traveling merchants or early 19th century Texan farmers that I had painted before.
I was a young child when he was around, so he never spoke too much about his infantry service in World War II. In fact, regretfully all I can deduce now from his time were a few photographs and a short one page account written at the urging of his sister. He seemed to have participated in the Battle of the Bulge, helped liberate Germany and Czechoslovakia. His feet froze and would cause him problems for the rest of his life. It was harsh, difficult, and certainly life changing. Yet he survived it all, defending his land, his country…. Alive, with a wider – if more terrible – view of the world.
And there it was – this image of him I had to capture: a young 26-year-old with a twinkle in his eye that would last him all his years and beyond… Him smiling, glowing eye, cloaked in the garbs of his military service.