The Providence Story

I moved up to Providence and decided to stay at the YMCA hotel just a few blocks from my work. Bertha and the boys would stay in Jamaica until I was sure of my job and liked the city. Every Saturday I would take the New Haven R.R. down to New York, get on the subway and get home in time for supper. Then I would leave home at 10 p.m. Sunday, catch an 11 p.m. bus and arrive in Providence at 5 a.m. I would get off the bus, go to my room and get a couple of hours shuteye before going to work.

Livermore and Knight occupied an old five story building right in the center of town – really an antique. They had a good-for nothing art director named Jimmy Lamont. About all he did was sit and read magazines, I did all the work, the craziest system I ever heard of. I enjoyed my work, though, and enjoyed the town.

Rented a house at 10 Ferrier Drive in Gaspee Plateau and moved the family up there without incident right after school was out in Jamaica. We were very happy in this home. We lived right on Narragansett Bay. Boats all over and we could see the big freighters and tankers go by.

Two prints inspired by his time in Rhode Island.

Business was pretty poor in 1939 and after I had been there about a year I was terminated. Why me and not Jimmy Lamont I will never know for I was doing all the work. I made a deal to stay on with them on a free lance basis and this worked out as well or better than when I was on a salary, I could work as much or as little as I found expedient and had the use of their space and materials. I had one good customer on the outside, The Fram Corp. from whom I got considerable art work.

We were only paying $50 per month rent where we were but we decided we wanted to build a home of our own. We bought a nice lot at 23 Howie Ave.

Howie Avenue home built by Clarence and Bertha.

A Christmas card designed and printed by Clarence.

Business in my line was not good. (Early into World War Two) A Kaiser shipyard was started on the Bay not far from our home. I got nervous about trying to depend on art work to make a living, so when the shipyard was started I went down and applied for a job as a loftsman which seemed at the time to be the only outlet for my talent. I started there for 58 cents per hour, believe it or not and the first couple of months I worked twelve hours a day seven days a week on the night shift. Later we went to a ten hour day and after about a year an eight hour day. That way I was able again to return to Livermore and Knight and work there five or six hours. So my work day during the war was from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Pretty tough on me and pretty tough on the family who saw so little of me.

I liked the loftsman job pretty well. I learned a lot about wood working and worked with a lot of interesting people from all walks of life. I was a lead man on the night shift the last year or so and it was an easy job – had lots of time for reading and sketching pencil portraits of people. My main job was taking care of and interpreting blueprints of the ships we were building.

While in Wichita back in the twenties besides teaching nights I did a lot of painting and print making and continued doing so in Fort Worth but got out of the notion in Providence and in New York City, for I had less time and ambition. I did go to night classes at the Rhode Island School of Design for a year.

I was at the shipyard when the war ended. Of course everyone was terminated and I was glad when I could get back to artwork full time and have more time at home. I felt, however, that I had by working there (at very poor wages) contributed my bit to the war effort.