One of my first stops after getting out of the Navy was in Baltimore. Many friends lived there, and it had been a congenial haven in my earlier “on the road” days. Since I planned on returning to my dissolute ways, it was a logical place to start; good friends, good parties, and a jumping-off place for frolicking detours.

I quickly found myself involved in my best friend’s schemes. My friend was one of those artists to whom success in art came quickly. But he had a problem—no money for materials. That was where I came in. I also had no money. But I was a good scrounger.

Set loose in industrial and commercial Baltimore, I rapidly scrounged discarded costume dummies for a sculptural piece, paints for a mural, and, best of all, a discarded piano that we salvaged for its many materials and repurposed into dozens of pieces. 

I was careful not to alarm any places from which I liberated materials. Instead, I always introduced myself and asked if the article in the alleyway was free for the taking. Later, friends would come in a car to pick up the goodies.

I soon moved up in the organization and became a clipper and trimer for the complex montages that my friend created. As a scrounger, I was always looking for interesting journals and obscure print materials that we could clip for a montage.

One day I scrounged a set of carving tools from a hardware store that was disposing of old displays and odds and ends. My friend suggested that we might venture into making Tiki figures for sale at some of the happenings and gatherings. I was set the job of carving, being that I had done a few pieces in emulation of my grandfather and carved a few things in the Scouts.

About three weeks later, we had an exhibit at a buddy’s bar – my one and only “one-man show.” On display were my first works. The funds raised allowed me to patronize those in attendance with several rounds of drinks.

That was my introduction to the world of “ART.” That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

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