Spectarama Logo

In the beginning...

John C Howard Photograph

Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, and it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.

I've been doing the things that people do when their parents reach the twilight of their lives; ask them about their parents, and hear stories of their childhood and youth. 

One last chance to try to identify the unknown people in shoeboxes of family photos, and to scan, and sort who's in those photos to be prepared for the photo boards that we assemble for funeral services and "celebrations of life".  To try to confirm the known family genealogy, and to begin the process of identifying the stuff that has been left behind.

My mother passed relatively quickly just over 2 years ago, and her memory and skills were intact right up until the cancer consumed her. She was able to help with some of the process, telling stories and labeling the backs of old photographs so we knew who was who.  

My father however, had slipped away from us gradually and sort of silently, some time before my mother passed. They call it "Vascular Dementia", which to my understanding will have a similar outcome to Alzheimer's, however it may take a much longer time to get to the critical stages.  His ability to recall the past accurately is shaky at best, and very few things seem to help jog his memory.

I've asked him about his father, my grandfather, John C. Howard, but either the memories have waned, or, as I suspect, his father was so engrossed in his career and work that there weren't that  many father-son moments that stood out for my father.  My father also was engrossed in his career, however he did carve out significant time to support and contribute to his kids youth activities. 

I'd like to think my grandfather did his best. By all accounts he was a successful commercial artist, and we have some of the art and artifacts he left behind that confirm those beliefs. One of the stories my dad relayed to me was that he was back at his family home after his tour in Vietnam, and he found his father, mid-morning, on his bed, deceased from a heart attack, at age 60.

He passed years before I was even conceived. I have to construct a lot of my impression of him thru the remnants that have been saved and the few stories that we're shared with me over the years.  I will share those impressions, with you here.

One thing that surprised me was, that although he was a rather prolific and successful artist in his time, that I have been unable to find more than a handful of references to his work on the Internet. One problem being that his name is relatively common, and is shared with a number of contemporary and historical political figures who have snatched up the Wikipedia pages.  

I believe that he died right at the juncture in his life when he had successfully provided for his family, and was able to transition to more experimental art forms, of which Spectarama was one of. 

He would have given the artists of his time, a good competition, if his heart didn't give out. I believe.