August 05, 2012

Hello Bob, my name is....

Robert Bootier's
Rhodesian Ridgeback
"Hello Bob, my name is... 
     By John R. Greenwood

That's the way I began my Sunday afternoon message to Robert Bootier, a local artist. I typed it slow so I would not make an error. After all, I didn't know the person at the other end of my Facebook message. I was running on a hunch and an "I wonder if...". I told Bob how much I liked his work. It had a bold style, a little heavy on the saturation, just the way I tweak my photographs. The way I enjoy them best. The handful I saw right away were interesting subject matter, mostly local. I didn't waste any time. I asked him straight up if he was related to Bob and Connie Bootier, two people I knew a long  time ago. I told him I remembered a young Bobby standing by his fathers side in a store named, "The Country Store" even though it was a half block north of the Jefferson Terrace on Saratoga's West Side. I kept typing. I told him it didn't matter if he was or wasn't, but that I liked his work and I invited him to check out my Facebook page and blog. I ended my initial message by telling him he might see someone or something familiar while he was looking around. 

Bob replied almost instantly. I pushed my chair back and took a deep breath. The artist thanked me for complimenting his work. He acknowledged that Bob and Connie where indeed his mother and father, and that, "Yes, he was that young kid I'd remembered from the store on Jefferson St." He said he would check out my blog. He said, "Who knows, maybe I will recognize you." 

My day was complete at that point but there was more to follow. I responded one more time, my pulse raised a bit from the resurrection of some long forgotten memories. I told Bob that when I was a young boy I used to stock shelves and sweep the floor at the Greenfield General Store. At the time it was Bob senior who owned and operated it. He ran it with a friend in the years prior to running the store in Saratoga. In fact I said, "I wrote a story about working for your father. It's in the last paragraph of the piece." I sent him a link. I explained my love of writing. I told him that growing up in Greenfield provided many fond memories and pages of material. I knew Bob had lost his dad at an early age. I wanted him to know how fond of his dad I was and that I was sorry. I told him I was in the process of reinventing my life. I encouraged him to keep his brushes moist and his passion moving forward. I told him I hoped we could stay in contact and maybe we might shake hands one day. I wished him good luck. 

I headed off to another site when that familiar ding brought me back to the message page we had been on. It was Bob. "I do believe I remember you. You delivered milk to the store on Jefferson St. You were missing a finger. I think you were well built, like maybe you worked out or worked really hard. If that was you, my father liked you. He had respect for you. I was pretty young, probably between eight and fourteen at the time, so I could be completely wrong!" 

Wrong hell, I thought! I was built like a brick chimney at the time. I worked hard and worked out. You bet that was me! Believe it or not though, I was stunned by the fact that Bob remembered his father liked and respected me. That statement stopped me dead in my tracks. That was 30 years ago. All those 14 hour days of hard work and forgotten milk bills were worth it I thought to myself. Isn't respect what really matters? It's got longevity. Trump has it all wrong. 

Well, now that Bob and I have established our past commonalities he asks me how well I know Jon Katz? He tells me of the day he attended one of Jon's book signings a couple of years ago and took some pictures. He says he took the photographs home and did a painting of a black lab puppy named Lenore. He said the funny thing is Jon never knew it. The sad thing is, he traded the painting to a picture framer for the framing of several other paintings that he had been working on. Can you feel the stew thickening? 

Well for the next half an hour, painting artist Bob and amateur writer John volley talk of Macs, and Canons, and Blogger links back and forth. Within the total hour having never spoken a word, we have established computer and political preferences. We have covered over thirty years of history and I am giving him directions to Jon's Katz unveiling of his new eBook, "The Story of Rose: A Man and His Dog" at Battenkill Books the following day.  

You don't like technology? You might be missing a message. 

Not The End

The search for a puppy in a painting continues...

You might want to stick around? 



  1. Your post pulled me in right away -- I scrolled and read as fast as I could through the friendly words that read like history revisited. Your ending was perfect. You proved that technology is not all devoid of enlivening or enriching qualities -- it does have a soul. -- barbara

  2. Yes, our computers can isolate us or they can expand our world enormously. It's our choice and you have walked through that open door.

  3. The painting looks so real! Robert is certainly an amazing artist. Now, my curiosity is piqued- and waiting to read if both of you can "retrieve" Robert's painting of Lenore when she was a wee puppy. Have an excellent day!

  4. John,

    An therein lies the most wonderful reason to embrace new technology...Your very heart warming story, which like those good old hard-backed Fairy tale books, has also had a very happy ending, or should I say, new beginning:)

    Best Wishes,

  5. Thanks for including me in this story, John. And thank you for the compliment, Jennie.