Marjorie Jean Wood and [No Name Given] [No Name Given]

Recorded August 25, 2009 Archived September 23, 2009 48:36 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: SCK001735



  • Marjorie Jean Wood
  • [No Name Given] [No Name Given]

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00:02 This is Karen Wood is August 2009 and I'm here to interview my mother-in-law. Jean wood burn wood.

00:11 And we are here in her home in Huntsville, Alabama and we're looking at a scrapbook and in that scrapbook is the text of the of the outstanding alumnus award for 2004 that Gene one at Judson college or alumna hurt her Alma Mata. So I'm going to read part of that Angie. Maybe you can tell us a little bit about it would have hit the Scrapbook Jean Woodfin grew up in Marion, Alabama and began studying art at Judson College when she was 10 years old. She was a daughter of a poet and a painter in a planter her eldest daughter Carolyn says little Jean couldn't carry a tune and a piano lessons just didn't take however, he was captivated by this world of seeing drawing and painting and she found Harmony without the piano lessons. He was getting a scholarship for a very early admission to the art classes at Judson College.

01:11 And by the time she was 12 years old. She was taking lessons and drawing and painting with the college girls. Well, when you first got into it at Jetson, it was very interesting and most unusual for a little girl to walk from the grandmas and one side of town to Judson College in the beautiful campus life with all the grown beautiful and exciting young ladies who came from different places around the world and I was just a little country girl and it was an amazing sight to walk up the steps into the Dome where the art Department was and it was a few for all over Marion. You could look down on the librarian.

02:11 And the Beautiful magnolia tree is and all of that and when I saw the art teacher I was absolutely in all of her. She was amazing. She had long red fingernails beautiful black hair piled high on the head with a pin stuck through the bun and I don't believe I saw but I was quite sure she smokes cigarettes. I thought man when I grow up that's exactly what I'm going to be. I didn't quite make that but it was it was quite a thrill.

02:53 I did the first few classes with with the girls and I was so pleased to get a locker. That was the first time. I'd ever been exposed to a situation of scoop when I could have a lock of my own and I could put my pants in there. So I didn't have to carry him across town which was a great Improvement. I don't remember many interactions between the girls and me they were busy in trying to make the course.

03:33 Well, they were looking for good grades. And that was in that to just learn and absorb what I could and so this time flu and and I really don't know how long that lasts lasted but I know I was so inspired that I never quit painting but I never had up till then because I had painted since I was a child and had been told that's wonderful wood fence paint. My father's sister's paint it and we had paintings in the home then Aunt Sally had done and she painted mostly would scenes with bird dogs and that sort of thing and so I knew that that's who I was and that's what I wanted to do with my life the paint and develop that talent that God gave me it's if I had it

04:31 Did your Aunt Sally painted did you are you are you self-taught at that point? It was when you first started painting. Did you you just taught yourself? And so you went to Judson? Oh, yeah. In fact, I'm afraid I'm going to self talk to me the other way because I do have a different mind mind that takes off in the clouds and and it started Mission between the dead log me and and my guardian angel and I will think when I start or I want to paint woods and I have solved the idea want to paint wood to certain way looking at them. And then before I know it I may be off on a cloud somewhere else painting a whole different scene and and trying to figure out how to do this or that I always loved experimenting and and trying everything and I found in the

05:30 Art classes the teacher wanted you to paint the way she wanted you to paint and she would give you a subject in that if it wasn't what your soul cry that fall then it wasn't much fun. And when I was in college my art teacher's name was Miss lunch. God bless her but she was not the beautiful inspiration that the teacher had been when I went up there miss Riley a what's her name as a child, but miss much love to paint things with black and I never could come around and have it yet decided that blacks necessary in a painting I Believe by blending and well anyway, Miss much and I didn't particularly get along. I don't remember being a straight-A student in college with my

06:29 That you're talking about having to paint according to guidelines and and what the teacher suggest because I've always heard you talk about reading the paper and and not even knowing when you sit down to paint what you're going to paint. So how does that work? That's true. Well is it pain is opportunity to open your eyes to a world that that hasn't ever been explored and that's what's so exciting about it with with watercolor particular. You can wet the paper and injected color and before you know it a bloom of a beautiful world. That's that is totally remarkable. And then as you look you see, oh this this coming up this little dock area leaves me up to a path here and it just goes from there.

07:29 And so in reality setting up a still alive of of finding a place and say copy. This is it's just not it's impossible to follow me. I really have to paint what comes out of my soul or I can't do it. I'm trying to believe me but to see about your body of work and you don't just work and watercolor. You've also got acrylics and oils and pastels and and you don't just have one style you have so many different, you know from abstracts to know florals to mountain scenes. It seems like you've just got a huge range of things that you paid and I think maybe most painters are more.

08:18 Styleyes, didn't it would narrow it was very interesting at the right time at the right place and I had an opportunity to go to wonderful big jewelry shows all over the country and to get animal you would just beside yourself, but I would have just hundreds and hundreds of people walk by and see my work and it was delightful to grow from what they said and from what they saw in it, but they always said how can you pay it all these different style and technique where does it come from and I would kill them and say what do you know? I'm schizophrenic crossbone to explain is what I should have said just happens.

09:11 Well, that's one of the things that I really enjoy about your your artwork that you were talking about going to college later as an as an older student in having the set of constraints of that teacher after that. What did you do with your artwork? When did you when did you start teaching art yourself? Well, it was interesting. I've got married very young. Charles would had the grown up sweetheart from grade school and we've had her off and on always ended up that we knew we were going to be together. And so I got married and then and then lost the opportunity to to go to college and and I had to figure out a way to help make a living during those lean times.

10:11 Charles came back from the wall and he had to go to school. So I painted then and I think the experience of just getting to try on everything and in anything and

10:30 It was just a wonderful way. The first teaching I ever did though was after we got to Auburn and how was the miraculously nominated to be the president of the Danes Club in that was the club consisting of students who why wives of the Soldiers & Sailors that had been in wall and that was the first opportunity. I had to try to teach and as president. I got to help plan the program and was interested in. And it was a chance for me to try my wings. And so I did and I've loved it. It is a sharing. It is amazing to show somebody something they have never seen before and to open their eyes.

11:30 So that they say did I do that, you know somebody up there right? It's a great life. It's a great way, but I had no intention of teaching myself after that. I have a family and I was very busy with the children and fourth child arrived 18 years after my first child David and Carolyn was the first and she is an artist a wonderful life. But so encouraging and Barrett very generous by giving me a little time to pain every now and then now I used to take bus at Charles.

12:30 Charles wood jr. With me painting on Sunday afternoon, and he was very talented. I think if I could have gotten him and had a chance to really paint with him. He he would have made a great artist. I remember one Sunday. We went to this beautiful freeway on the other side of town and we paint it and actually hears what was better than mine. So so that was really fun. But with Carolyn and Nancy when they were growing up to I have to Painted some with Carolyn and you know, that was what that was interesting but difficult they had contact. I do hate judging because I have the feeling that anyone who paints for painting is is a winner may not be the best.

13:30 And you never did really reach the best because you keep striving for that all your life. You going to paint that Masterpiece that but then she came along and had so much talent. Even if it's as a kid and she used to model for some of our art classes here in Huntsville, as you know, and she got older and then we would stop painting together and that was that was always fun. But we always had very different ideas. But in the one of the contest Carolyn's painting was just absolutely so far superior to the other children, but the judges said, you know, her mother painting. I wonder how much she has to do with it, which was it? So Carolyn has a mind of her own and it was absolutely that bothered but then as we got older

14:30 When I did start teaching which happened purely by accident, actually, I was in the living room sitting in a rock of reading the agony and ecstasy and David was a baby and I was giving him his dinner as I read and the door someone knocked at the door and to love German ladies appear and they were part of one of them Bond grams team who they come to NASA to to do all these fabulous things that have affected her family for years ever since but the latest couldn't speak English very well and I couldn't speak German at all, but they explain to me that they had seen my paintings and heard about them.

15:25 From the welcome lady. Now, you all don't know where the welcome lady is. Not the album good advertisement where to buy this and that very helpful, but I had no idea about this and they explained that I was to teach them on and I presented the idea to my husband and he wasn't thrilled but it happened they showed up and so I was painting been in all well and that it was a turn back time has quite an odor which wasn't very conducive to my family's happiness. So I resolved to teaching in the unfinished basement which were there. Well, they could come in the back door and we

16:25 A hundred with the two ladies and a couple of bath friend and before 2 or 3 weeks. I had 15 students in the basement and we were really rocking and it was it was delightful. I had a ball and I ended up a friend of mine had a little lamb daycare center follow the children. David is just up over the hill and her home was built by the same plan that I was worth saving. So apparently David was at home, but he was a precious little fella and they loved it and he would he would I pick him up at noon and I would say to the latest and I've got to go pick up David. So I'll see you next week and they say fine, you know, and then I come back and they still be painting.

17:25 David as he began to talk with say what did you bring me? So happy but it was a clown that start with the dollar signs for his eyes and he has his own little wooden board that has a picture of a young kid and a boat that was carved out with us, and he presented it. Does it Christmas? I want a boat.

18:25 Bud's was wonderful and that he was in high school and he was big enough to help us with the SS time progressed. We had more and more students and had classes every morning every afternoon and every night. It just really well until I saved enough money to get one of the husbands of one of the students to build the studio wing on to the house. And so that happened in that was a wonderful step following it had to come through the garage and at that time the garage was a total disaster and the dogs from the backyard could come through this the swing into the big garage and meet all the students as they came in.

19:25 And we had the easels feta and bus with cut Boards out of Masonite all the different sizes of the frames and have them read it and just so so they have a lovely painting service surface of a student to to buy and pay them. So all these children involved with the odd one way or the other and they were great help and gave him a summer job during the. When we were painting in my studio and I thought I was set up so well, wonderful, dr. Kaga who lived here his children that he had been sending to my heart classes and we were having a wonderful time and so he brought his nieces and nephews the next summer then I'm from New York. And so I got to teach them also mean while he built a shopping center over in

20:25 The ballot in Jones Valley and he says now I want you to come over there and I see if I can afford the rent. He said oh, yeah, and he was wonderful and he had adjusted the call me and wouldn't let the manager who ran the shopping center. Keep me out a wonderful and on Bailey Cove Bailey Cove Road and big tall ceilings and wonderful walls, so you can hang big paintings and her paintings and I have a wonderful young man who helped me and was such a joy named David Mann you started as a little boy and and paid for his classes by it's that nothing easier than helping me. He was so marvellous that by the time we woven High School across from the high school. He was helping me.

21:25 He would we would plan the whole Workshop. He would contact the frame shops when he learn to frame. We got our own frame eBenefits when we had the people come in from other cities like Charles Reed came down from Connecticut and Claude. Crony came down from New Jersey to do what and this was unheard of and nobody had had done that and it was incredible. We had come from Mississippi and Florida and North Carolina are they were artists in office and I'm so sorry that that that called crony if it will be smashed but Charles Reid's is still painting and then

22:25 Connecticut New York area and he is a wonderful teacher beautiful eyes does wonderful break. So this was great. And I remember we had a child Center to spawn twins wife and the Scimitar came to the workshop dressed in his white suit and he had more fun than anybody and I think he ate more food but it was it was Unreal experience that was above and beyond anything. I had ever planned file. Well between all the classes and Rain the studio and doing the framing of the workshops. Did you have time to paint yourself? That's the way it was and I found the best way to teach was by showing people have I did it and then they could go from there. So I'll

23:24 Set up an easel and put my my my painting a paint board up whether it was water and I would sometimes I'd bring an whole limbs of trees and Carolyn came down to take the workshop with Charles red and beautiful bow of a redbud tree had broken off Emma Stone and somehow she and some of the other ladies from the workshop got it and us the whole thing up in the studio is asking it. Was that big and what time will you send me to go get a goat I had

24:15 Students at glove to paint animals. So I said, okay we'll go paint the real animals and neither Jones had a little place down here and they rode face off Bailey Cove Road, and she had a quiet all kinds of animals. They are for her children and she had beautiful piece of pecan and goats and sheep and cows and chickens all kinds of chickens. And I've just an amazing place and she would invite us to come down and have the client is lying. And that was all I remember one of the most wonderful painting to sell Angela Cataldo did of a bunny rabbit. I've never gotten over and she's doing wonderful work now quite famous for some of the designs. She does in needlework in that sort of thing, but I

25:15 Never seen anything that was so glad plants that little bunny rabbits you paint it, but everybody was everybody was excited and happy and and Lenny and we would have the odd shows to do the work that you had done and that I had done and they mentioned children were most of your students at this time children or adults from the latest in the morning and that for some reason I was so lucky for some reason that the Officers Club put up signs and I hung my heart and all the hospitals have out artwork on even the airport that was amazing. We had to work at the airport and people would fly through and buy paintings, and I hadn't

26:15 Set the light for people that work in these different places, but then when we had the odd shows we wouldn't weedhead. I we had all the ways you I was teaching the latest in the morning and that always opposites Club with with the assignment of the night. They would still put up the sign and finally I said, let's not put officers. Let's just put in which hazard class itching. So then I began to hear some enlisted men and women, but but but it was very exciting. I got to go out with it head honcho. Now, what was what's the name? Her name? The head generals wife invited me out for lunch after one of the accession. She's to God with me.

27:15 I was I was so naive and it was all so new to me that I I wasn't comfortable with the soldiers serving me at the table. But I remember what you said we had Frozen grapes and I thought that was big but it was Shirley Burnett who came from the convent here and they had invited me to come and present a program for the Women's Club Club at the Catholic church. I had several ladies in the morning class. That was Catholic and this was when I first started teaching and

28:15 I thought it was just going to be a small group and I was to bring my ID and then and preventing it and tell them what about it? But we had the most wonderful time. But when I I was bowled over when I went in it was a whole congregation huge room full of people and they die is Quest on seeing you came to see me after we were through and he says this is your life's work. This is what you have to do and I will send everyone had said he was so stunned. So he was so wonderful and such an inspiration to me. And this was all it took to sent me off set me off with all the angels in heaven. I was gone. So I always let the nuns come free.

29:15 Chevrolet place gave them an old car to drive out. Class and that was interesting because I had some wonderful Engineers that would take him and they were a little leery of the lady the nuns driving and they would try to get here in time to Parkway, but we love them and it was amazing. I love those nuns and they would do they would type up my lessons and then somehow would record them and and I have Stacks and stacks some way of lessons that I talked to and from the beginning on to advance and they would get those that then one sister to rest Marie gave me a beautiful Rosary when she was trans fun and had to leave and

30:15 She said now will be saying prayers for you and Angeles every every night. So I felt very blessed by that. The house was robbed all the silver Tuesday at what taken? The police said it was no use looking in the drawer with the silver with my beautiful rosary and I was just curious about it. I was just upset and I said well if the police can't find them I will so I started walking in the woods behind the house and came out on the road the street Nottingham behind the place and I looked down in the closet by where the water had run and here were the knives from the self from this silver because they couldn't be melted down. They had how I handled and here with the rotary and so

31:15 Like that was a extra wonderful blessing just just have that much of it look like somebody was taking care of me then.

31:26 So that's that's where it went from one one wonderful blessing to another with one surprise after another with of the winning of awards and the fact that the paintings sold and allow me to fix my studio and do wonderful things that I wouldn't have ever been able today was just so what's up. I just can't explain it. Now. It was I was at the right place at the right time doing the right thing and there's nothing in the world like feeling like all's well with the world.

32:13 Because actually, you know, no matter how hard you were or what you do. I'm not sure who said it but it certainly is true shower.

32:26 How short?

32:30 As short lives phone how short how short is Fang. In other words, you can get to the top of the barrel for a while, but you going to shift over and somebody else has got to be the King of the Hill and I really feel that everyday has got to be the happiest the best day of your life that you've got done to take every opportunity to to to solve all the wonderful things. Right the flowers the butterfly the most of all their friends and family cuz what would we be without her and so I have been really blessed. Am I I do feel so happy about that at Millie 84. I'm just as excited about trying to create it.

33:30 Very best painting going to do a painting and the kids were still around still at home that you were PTA president and did all sorts of things outside the realm of painting to it was a fun and Buzz and Nancy had the opportunity to go to a school that have not been had been held back by lack of funds and what have you and shortage of student then when NASA I am an activity begin to bring in all the different families and children the school had more students than

34:30 It was like they were able to really cope with and they will need sound. So we had wonderful PTA and Charlie and I participated and we did things that you couldn't do now you would be sued absolutely well well problems and that they didn't have facilities for clean water to bathe and wash the clothes and the high and they had we had to be sure they had his Washington and they got cleaned up until we decided the best thing to do with a PTA to make some money to build some showers. So we had a woman less wedding and I think Charlie playing I'm not sure if he was a bride.

35:30 Where is successful and we we got a shower and then we recruited some of the barbers from the Arsenal who had children to come out and get some half and half with some of the other members of his dad collected the clothes. We took the children brought them clothes and we fix the clothes room. So they could have fresh closing and clean clothes and then I would go to the home and collect the dirty clothes and bring them back and wash him and then take them back to the mommy and it's funny now, I see some of the children that

36:11 I had I had done that fall and turn my money into service and I thank God to see I'm grown and clean and happy so it was it was a time that was different from any other time. But like I say, I think we'd have gotten sued if we can cut somebody to tell you that we're going but it was great. So I did enjoy the work with it schools and that you're in with the Art League and trying to establish an oddly and trying to find the place we could even have to get together to paint and it was it was wonderful. I have pictures in my scrapbook of how we imported teachers from Birmingham and had them come down and we got an old school building that had been deserted for years had no heating facilities.

37:11 It was cold as a Mischief Louis Street like the like everything but we we got together with us.

37:21 The ballet group and they helped us in on Sutton night. We would go and build a find the furnace and and we would have a classroom in and have clients and then we had I watch shows Vienna and we'd have the mail and all the head of the paper the paper came in at that to judge the art show and I had a picture. I wish I had somewhere I should have a picture of it here somewhere. It was featured in the paper and when they walk and did that time I was taking classes with a teacher in the summertime at at UA and receive Alabama at Huntsville, and she had sent us off to paint in Madison and that was quite a ways from your age and shooting.

38:21 Whether she just said going in pain, so I went and set up by by the Gin and I had a wonderful time with these lovely colorful people who were working in the gin and some of the young boys were riding bicycles that were leaning against the gin and some of the latest was coming toward us with bias get to I would give the kids when they to buy ice cream cone if they would stand back from let me paint and it was it was so excited and so exciting to win and then to see my picture in the paper on Sunday. That was I was beside myself, but that to gave me a great opportunity.

39:21 Now what he was a representative representative, he and his wife and she wanted to live in town and he wanted to live on this phone with his name and he came to me and says I want you to come ask and bring my my country to the Senate and I said well well well how we going to do that? I've got a flatbed truck and a driver I'll give you and you come out and paint and then we will put it on the walls in the house. I'm building in time for my wife. So I said, okay that's a deal. So I would take a large canvases and go out and paint that will be on me and you know, one of those paintings that was his study painting is in the courthouse.

40:15 But then I love the old filling station, you know, he had in the gin and the old home place and it was wonderful because I would sell but they live original and then I took I took these and looked at them and transferred all that into two huge paintings on full power, but that the two of them fill the hole in his living room and the city and he had to choose a girl so that when it's their time that they ever wanted to they could take the two big huge paintings down and I have separate pain and I had pictures of little boys with fishing poles walking down the road with the cotton so you don't listen that was amazing.

41:15 And all that was in the paper, they feed you that in the paper and you you couldn't couldn't believe how wonderful that's important to teacher from parent to the Scrapbook to see all of the articles about genes art and her shows and her donations of paintings to fundraising causes. And and if that you did quite a few television appearances doing your artwork to do that with someone because I would get to go up there and asked me to come up.

41:59 And tell them about what we were doing in the and then doing the demonstration. So I used to love I still do love to play with Sony that that they gave me a beautiful Liam off of an apple tree with a apple still hanging on it and I took it up on the set at the television station and painting that on TV and I had a big huge paint and she was great but she bought that when she saw it but that was so much fun, you know to do these demonstrations and talk to him about that because at that time there wasn't much going on at in the city with their heart really to present it to the general public to paintball.

42:59 People people

43:05 To the average person instead of just like there is something I really don't think anyone should buy a work of art. That doesn't attract your your real Stone Lake House When painting my painting I put my very Soul into them and if you love the painting and you can see how bad I have been told that over and over in it such a blessing and a reward much better than the money the money helped to do things like that that I couldn't have done. But that is is Joe and I got letters from people all over there was one lady that bought a painting on time.

44:05 Not that means of dollars and $1 a month, but she was just beginning her work in the coal mining District of went North Carolina wet when was it up there? So she felt so guilty that she couldn't pay it all at once. Although she never missed a payment that she hung it in the chapel in the little coal mining beautiful letters from wonderful people of all kinds that came in and saw the painting and would write me in and say how much it meant and I can't I can't tell you what a blessing that was.

44:52 So, you know when X would get rough and when they get rough now.

44:59 I always say thank you God.

45:04 I love to punch.

45:09 And we're actually out of time that's good. But see if we have enough time on this SD card for the outstanding alumnus award at Judson college and the rest of the letter or the speech said since those Childhood Days Gene is achieved many successes. She's been an artist a wife a mother and a teacher. She was invited to show her work in many parts of the country including Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky Washington DC and had the honor of exhibiting her art several times at the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee. She was one of the first artists to develop and organize small art shows in Huntsville, Alabama through the success of these shows mrs. Wood contributed proceeds to causes such as a Cancer Society.

46:09 Lexi Foundation the Arthritis Foundation the kidney foundation the heart fun the Alabama Boys Ranch the Humane Society and the Guatemala Children's Foundation.

46:20 Quote as a teacher, she not only taught about technique color and style but she taught with an energy and enthusiasm that encourages every student to express what is inside them through her teaching and she opens her students eyes. Not only to the Miracles of nature which of the joy in each person's soul when they're painting. She teaches you to source is her daughter Nancy many of her students continue to paint after starting with her. Some of even have art careers in places such as Paris and New York mrs. Wood was selected to work with the introduction of multi phases of Arts in the public schools of the United States the 6 demonstration tapes that she developed through this program are used at various grade levels mrs. What is also a leader in a community where he on the church board teaching art to the children of project Discovery serving on the board of the hospitality house, which is a facility that provides accommodations to families of critically ill patients in Huntsville, and she's held offices in the Hunts.

47:20 Art League and the association of community artist she's donated several of her paintings to the Huntsville chapter of the Jets and Alumni Association for their auctions and the proceeds from these options. Go towards scholarships for Judson students. Mrs. Wood was married to the Lake Charles. Would a NASA engineer for over 50 years. They have four children two boys and two girls all successful in their chosen field. What is a nominator said by her life and by what she says she conveys for love of nature this country for family God and God's love for us. It is with the greatest of pleasure that the Judson College Alumni Association prevent the 2004 outstanding alumni award to Jean wood Wynwood class of 1947.

48:09 Well, thank you for talking today about your life and your artwork and and we'll have to do part to another time. Well, believe me I intend to keep painting and the keep trying to that is that gold but it's never never possible to reach, but who knows maybe next time?