Spare places

Near the end of the WPA in 1939, I painted a large round sign for a building in Battle Creek, Nebraska (pop. 702), identifying the “Recreation Hall” and “Theatre.” A photograph of that hall and sign hangs inside our home entrance hall, framed with a little note typed on an old manual typewriter: “This ground-zero view of Battlecreek, Nebraska, in 1947, is for the native son and honored exile Martin Marty, with the fraternal greeting of W. Morris, well known Platte River cattle rustler. This 16th day of December 1993, in the twilight glow of a bloody century. Wright Morris.”

Once or twice later Morris sent postcards with his standard reference to the bloody century. I never met Morris, nor did my son Micah, who framed the print and note. Yet Morris influenced the two of us and his readers immeasurably.


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