Dorothy Bowman



I am a child of the 40's and 50's. We lived in North Carolina and we were very poor. I was the only girl with four brothers, so I spent a lot of time alone. We were share croppers and moved a lot from farm to farm. In 1954 we finally bought an old log house in Allensville. The plaster was missing and so were a lot of logs. It was so cold I almost froze to death. My brother Dave nailed old used tin on the back side of my room. It was torn and had holes in it. The tin helped so much. I lost Dave when he was 49. I know in my heart he saved my life many times.

When I was five my mother gave me a paint set. I knew then that painting was for me. I painted everything I could.

At sixteen my brother Dave paid for me to go to beauty school. I was always planning to get back to my dream of painting. Fifty years passed, along with a lot of heart ache: broken homes, hundreds of miles from home with no friends or family, two handicapped children, and a sick and hurt husband and a baby in my arms. I opened a beauty shop in my home. This way I could look after my children and my husband. This lasted for ten years.

My oldest son married and left home. I gave them a lot and helped them get a mobile home. They told me they hated me. It hurt so bad I cried for years. This son passed away in 2010. I still pray for him, and I pray that the pain will ease up in me. My second son, born retarded, still lives with me. He has learned to look after himself and helps me a lot on the farm. My third child is a daughter, who is married with two wonderful children and lives in Amelia, Virginia. Her youngest child is a girl who loves to paint, just like I did as a child. When she comes to stay with me we always paint together.

I was married to this husband for eighteen years. It was a rocky marriage, a lot of hurt. I never did do anything right. One day he came in and said, "You are too old for me. I'm packing and leaving. Good-bye." I was thirty eight at the time. He was gone. It was a relief and I slept for three days. It was the first time I had any rest in ten years.

When I was forty two I married Charles Bowman who did, and still does, run a bulldozing business. We have now been married twenty six years and reside in Burkeville, Virginia.

I ran my own beauty shop for twenty five years. It was nice being my own boss. I worked at Brookview Lodge as a beautician for twelve years. I loved that job. I worked with the older people. I had to give it up to look after my own mother. She would say, "Get back to your painting, paint me a pretty picture." So I did and could not stop painting. She went to live with God three years ago and I miss her so much. I can hear her saying don't give up, live your dream. I never gave up on my dream. I'm an old retired woman now. I can paint and when I'm painting it's as if I'm a little girl again in the 50's. My paintings are from that era and my memories. A life and time for me that is gone forever.