Prince or Frog?

Eleanor Bridges knew all too well about the dichotomy between business and the arts. While her entrepreneurial and highly successful father Richard Massey made a great deal of money in business and spent a lot of it on a splendid house and gardens (torn down via eminent domain to make way for the Red Mountain Expressway), he never created a single painting or sculpture himself. As artists know, there is a huge difference in making it rather than buying it. He most likely didn't experience the pain and heartbreak that his daughter endured to create art and an artistic life, married to flawed fellow artist Georges Bridges.

Those acquainted with the creative process know that sometimes you just have to lollygag by the koi pond. It may look like you are doing nothing but really you are. What is more, in this present business climate and with the languishing of the liberal arts — the true meaning of what it means to be well educated — young people are turning to schools that make them into technicians. In fact, over 100 years ago, Eleanor's father made a great deal of money teaching young women to be secretaries which was an advance in those days when the other options were to be a servant or a teacher. Today, students "learn" to be a nurse online or practicing on robots. But artists and the well educated know to take the longer view and let their ideas bloom in the sun beside the pond, maybe reading a book or doodling in a notebook.

Richard Massey was savvy enough to buy the six lots on the corner of Edgewood Boulevard and Roseland Drive and sell it to his daughter for a negligible sum, instructing his lawyers to draw up a deed that tied up the property for one dwelling and one dwelling only. Who knows what he had in mind for Edgewood was then a semi-rural property, fit for pioneers and bohemians and even he wasn't prescient enough to foresee the current tear-down history for more-municipal-tax-revenue mania. But Massey's business acumen made it possible for his darling daughter to create the kind of artist's haven and waystation for the poor and the down-and-out that still stands today in Edgewood — a miracle in and of itself.

It is splendid when business interests and the arts come together and not just in the patron–artist relationship. Let this serve as a call for the city of Homewood and business interests far and wide to come together and buy the Pink House and Secret Garden so that it may be preserved for our children and our children's children.

If someone has to kiss Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer, so be it!

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Birmingham, Alabama 2019