July 3, 2015: I've decided to call this the gift that keeps on giving. Yet another person has come forth with more pictures and a story to go with them. The email goes like this:
"I found your web site after being given a ring binder note book of 8x10 photos by my sister-in-law. She had rescued them from a dumpster in Sebastian, Florida. A elderly neighbor of theirs had developed dementia, and his family moved him to a care facility. They then cleaned out his home and threw a lot of things in the dumpster. The ring binder contains 55 photos of patriotic scenes. Initially she thought they were water colors. As I am a history buff she gave them to me last week. She told me the gentleman had lived in the Chicago area and worked at Sara Lee. My wife said they looked like cake icing to her. There is no writing on them except for a numbered sticker in the lower left corner of each photo. Among the photos was a likeness of President Gerald Ford. As we pondered what they were I thought; Sara Lee, patriotic scenes, President Ford (1976). What connected them? Bicentennial! So I searched Sara Lee patriotic cake 1976 and found your web site. The photos are of the trim on the Birthday cake Sara Lee made for America in 1976. Each piece was placed on a couple of 2x4 scraps and photographed. The background appears to be of a wall in the Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. I believe the pictures were taken as the cake was assembled. The gentleman’s name is Albert S****. He was born August 1, 1925. I believe he is in two of the photos on the web site. I do not know what his job was at Sara Lee."
Well, thanks again to Donna, who is a wealth of information, we do know that Albert worked in the R&D department with Casey and Pierre. That's Al in the middle of the second row, right between Donna and Delores.
And thanks to my email correspondent John, who scanned over 50 photos and sent them to me. These show the royal icing paintings in mint condition, just before they were affixed to the giant cake and put on public display.
In judging the quality of the work depicted here, you might feel that the paintings are lacking in detail or fine technique. These paintings, intended to remind us of meaningful moments in American history, are not fine art. They are executed in royal icing, not in oil paint on canvas, and they were created using essentially a paint-by-number method. Secondly, they are designed for viewing from a distance, which sometimes requires exaggeration and abstraction of some features. Keep those factors in mind, and view them for what they are.
As for me, I've had a wonderful time putting this new show together. It was a stretch to recognize and remember the subjects of all of the paintings, and in some cases I admit to taking a good guess. I've done a small amount of research (which is to say, Googling) and learned a lot in the process—always a good thing, especially at my age.
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