We called him “THE DOCTOR”, but he was not a doctor at all. He was the night custodian at the local bank! A very eccentric custodian. His appearance was that of Albert Einstein. He drove a 1958 turquoise Chevrolet truck that had seen better days.
He had two passions in life. One was first edition comic books.
The other was collecting oil paintings. Especially old master oil paintings.
He was on a very limited budget, but each year he would buy one oil painting at a very high-end gallery in Chicago and pay for it in twelve monthly installments. He did this since 1950. After sixty years, he had amassed a very impressive collection of old master and 19th century oil paintings. He would come to visit our gallery when he was in town.
On one visit he brought in a fairly large unframed canvas of a shipwreck at sunset. He had just found a frame for it, but the canvas was too large for the new frame. He wanted Harvey to cut the canvas down to fit the new frame! In doing so, we would be cutting the signature off the painting. It happened to be painted by a very well known American artist.
We would not do it!
We noticed that part of the painting had already been cut off. Under pressure, THE DOCTOR admitted that he had cut a bit off. In actuality, he had cut the painting completely in half! The original canvas had been 36 x 48 inches!. He had done this to fit in yet another frame.
With much negotiating and hand wringing, we finally convinced him to sell us both halves of the painting which we re-united through a lining process. This entails affixing a new canvas to the back of the old canvas.
We still have the painting in our collection. When we pass it, we often think of “THE DOCTOR” and his wonderful collection.