Nyack Sketch Log: William Prime Batson

Every morning for the last year, I have created a watercolor portrait of my father, William Prime Batson. I started the project on his 90th birthday on October 22, 2011. On Sunday, October 21, 2012, I completed my 366th painting.

Physically, my father is robust: cognitively he is in decline. He doesn’t know my name, or our relationship, but the bond between us is strong. He seems to particularly enjoy our 6:00 am portrait painting sessions. You can’t see his eyes in any of my paintings because he is concentrating on the delicious breakfast I serve: hot cereal with apples and prunes, toast and juice.

Here is a selection of my favorite pieces from the 366-day tribute. If you click on the image, you can see the rest of the paintings from that month. Eventually, I would like to find a space to exhibit the paintings side-by-side. I also hope to find a way to use these portraits to encourage the discussion and consideration of elder care issues.

October 22, 2011 #1

My father, William Prime Batson, grew up in a home at 23 Jackson Avenue, between South Broadway and South Franklin, that was demolished by Urban Renewal in the early 1960’s.

November 18, 2011 #28

His friends call him Prime.

December 26, 2011 #66

He remembers the Hudson River freezing to a thickness that allowed people to walk across to Tarrytown.

January 27, 2012 #98

He graduated from Nyack High School, lettering in Basketball and Track.

February 22, 2012 #124

He tried out for the Harlem Globe Trotters.

March 23, 2012 #154

He served in World War II in the Signal Corps in Italy and Germany.

April 1, 2012 #163

After the war, he opened a coffee shop with his sister, Frances Adeline Batson, in Paterson, NJ, where he met my mother.

May 23, 2012 #215

He worked for thirty years at Curtis-Wright in Lodi, New Jersey, a factory that made airplane engines.

June 24, 2012 #247

He was an active member of the United Auto Workers (UAW)

July 9, 2012 #262

He had a daily copy of the New York Times reserved for him at Jerry’s Soda Shop on Main Street.

August 27, 2012 #311

For many years, he voluntarily mowed the grass around the Community Garden at Depew Ave. and Franklin St.

September 25, 2012 #340

He spent ten years working for the Nyack Water Department after his factory closed. His sister, Frances Adeline, was the Deputy Village Clerk.

October 21, 2012 #366

Yesterday, October 22, 2012, he turned 91.

Happy Birthday Dad!

I want to acknowledge my cousin, Sylvia Peterson for her loving attention and dedication to her uncle Prime.

Photo Credit: Janae Peterson (The shot of Dad and I is her first published photo. She’s ten years old!)

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One Comment on “Nyack Sketch Log: William Prime Batson”

  1. Claire says:

    What a beautiful testament to your father… and although you say he doesn’t “know” who you are, the familiarity and comfort must the so deeply rooted in him… and you are so lucky to have him to inspire you. 91!!! God Bless you both!


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