Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Son Lawrence as a High School Pan
I recently came across this portrait my father had painted from a large newspaper spread featuring my son Lawrence as Pan.  The newspaper photos were taken at Nashville's Parthenon (full size and open to visitors), where the Stratford High School Latin Club had a photo shoot.

When Lawrence began talking of a costume for the state Latin Club competition, I thought of the Greek god Pan.  For one thing, it would give my trumpet-playing son a chance to play an instrument.  The panpipes shown in the picture we actually made from cheap wooden flutes at one of the import stores.  He actually played several tunes on them - including "Satin Doll", since he was also in the jazz band.

My parents and I had always been fond of Pan - not from Greek or Roman legend, but from Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows.  One episode of the book concerns a baby otter that had gotten lost.  The Water Rat and the Mole take their boat in search of him, and, after a fruitless night, hear music near dawn.  This leads them to a small island, where little Portly lies curled asleep in front of Pan.  The Ernest Shepherd drawing I remember from childhood showed Pan stretched out in much the position shown above.

My memory of that picture gave the inner-city school some well-deserved publicity.  The whole Latin club with their teacher and me bused out to the Parthenon and changed into Roman looking costumes.  Immediately the girls present noticed a problem.  Their shoes didn't look like any kind of sandals, Roman or otherwise.  So I had Lawrence stretch out on the broad Parthenon steps in the pose Shepherd had drawn.  The girls put their feet behind him and looked like proper Roman ladies.  My asthmatic Lawrence, no football player,  became a high school star!

Of course, after the state Latin Club Convention, he refused to wear the costume ever again.  It IS conspicuous - and hot.  The portrait shows the horns I made from a coat hanger, yellow fake leather, and padding.  I completed the outfit with what amounted to fake fur pajama pants with padding in the thighs to resemble goat legs.

I also made several Baby Pan dolls, after learning the legend said the midwife had dropped this strange baby.  Actually, you wouldn't know whether to give it a diaper or a litter pan, but I don't think it would be scary.  I still have two of the dolls.  Creativity is fun!  

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