Photo of a large still life painting.
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Story by Devin Hancock

Little Rock, AR

This painting and homemade frame is by my paternal grandmother, Beulah Lee Sparger Williams, known to me as “Nanny.” She painted it on a board stamped with “Kemble-Cochran Co.,” an office supply store in our hometown of Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee. The signature in the lower righthand corner says “B.L. Sparger ’26.”

Nanny was a self-taught artist, and my sister, who lives in Asheville, has another painting of hers from this same period. I have some books from her school days at Virginia Intermont College in the 1920s that have doodles of flapper girls in the margins.

Nanny was born in 1908 and died in 1992 when I was five years old, so I only have a few memories of her. Her husband and my grandfather J.C. Williams died before I was born.

My knowledge and understanding of Nanny and Granddaddy are shaped by objects, photos, and stories from my parents.


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