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Memories from 8th Grade Art History to Rome in 2016

Enjoying Rome in 2016 with the eyes of an 8th grade student from 1965

View O Solo Roma July 2016 on littlesam1's travel map.


Surrounded by art in The Vatican Museum - Rome 2016

My father could sketch a little. My cousin Junior, his nephew, was an artist who did beautiful water color landscapes. My brother's daughter Amanda draws beautiful portraits. My sister could draw a little. My ex wife drew very well. My daughter Katie is an excellent artist. The Sampson's had artistic genes. MY MOTHER COULD NOT DRAW. She had absolutely no talent at all for drawing. My Aunt Louise, my mother's sister, could not draw. My mother's mother, my beloved /grandmother had no artistic talent at all. The Roth's could not draw. My name may be Sampson but the lack of artistic ability is pure Roth. I can not draw anything. Even my stick men look like a five year old drew them.

My two nightmares in school were gym and art class. I could not catch a soft ball or throw a football. I was raised in a holiness church and I can you now I experienced sanctification praying to the Holy Spirit to keep that softball away from me in the outfield. Whoever said you can't pray in school never stood next to me in gym class. Had it rained every time I prayed for rain on gym day my home town would have been washed down the Chesapeake Bay many years ago. My junior high and high school gym teachers were good men. They never made fun of me or made me feel inadequate. Although I already felt that way they never encouraged it. I always was graded a B in gym class. Years later I talked with one of my gym teachers and asked him why he always gave me a B. Obviously I was not a B student. He told me "You always came to class. You wore your gym suit and you took a shower. And you never gave me a problem."


My 8th grade octapus aka a camera on a tripod

My seventh grade art teacher was never so kind. She knew I had no artistic ability. She knew her assignments were way beyond anything I could do. And she never gave me a break. She assigned us paper mache animals. We had to use coat hangers, newspaper and wheat paste to create animals. I was in a panic. Other students were already molding the shapes of horses and dogs and even fish. I decided an octopus would be easy. I took four coat hangers and a ball of newspaper and formed my octopus. Of course an octopus has eight tentacles and mine only had four. But I knew I could never mange bending eight arms into place. My teacher never corrected me until I was finished and we had to present our projects to the class. When I presented mine she asked "What is that?" I said an octopus. She said it has four legs and looks like a camera on a tripod. I just wanted to crawl under the table and hide. Another time she assigned us to make mosaics. We had to draw a picture and color it with pieces of construction paper mosaic style. Once again I was in panic mode. I could never draw a picture much less color it with pieces of colored paper mosaic style. I ended up drawing a big head much like the heads on my stick figures. I gave it a large head of hair that flipped up on the ends. I was making That Girl which was a current hit TV series back in the those days. When she was grading the finished project once again I was asked "What is this?" I said "That Girl". She told me "That is not any girl I have ever seen." I have a feeling if my gym teacher had been there he would have understood exactly who it was and why I made it and would have graded me his usual B.

My eighth grade art teacher was the best. She knew not all of us were talented but she assigned projects we could at least try to work on with some success. She also taught us about art history. She taught us about the appreciation of art not just the creation of it. We were a small rural school. Going to Baltimore City was a big journey for most people in my home town. Mrs. Smith, the art teacher took us on a field trip to Baltimore to see The Agony and The Ecstasy, the movie about Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. I was fascinated with the movie. I learned about the great artists of the period and got to see their masterpieces. And this little gay boy also got to see Charlton Heston in a toga through most of the movie. I was spellbound. So there I sat watching every stoke of his hand and every movement of Charlton Heston recreating this great Michelangelo's masterpiece. We were in the huge and beautiful Mayfair Theater in Baltimore. Everything about this experience spoke to the little boy from Havre de Grace, Maryland. Sadly now the Mayfair Theater sits in a shambles in the inner city of Baltimore. I have taken photos of it on several occasions still remembering the school field trip.


I made my first visit to Rome in July 2016 fifty years after junior high school art class. The appreciation for classic art that I learned from Mrs. Smith has remained with me all of these years. When I travel. I want to experience the food and the art from the location I am visiting. So Rome as a dream come true. From the wine, to the pasta, to the Bernini angels I overdosed in Roman culture. The highlight was on my last day in Rome when I finally go to see the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo's masterpiece. The room was crowded. People were standing shoulder to shoulder with no room to move. But I didn't mind the crowds. I was back at the Mayfair Theater and twelve years old again. I could see how Michelangelo created the scaffolding and climbed to the top of chapel exhausted to finish the finger tip of God touching Adam. There were signs posted saying no photography. But there were people snapping cell phone photos all around me. I didn't want a cell phone photo though. I wanted a real photo for this special moment. So I worked my way to the center of the room and lifted my camera up, with no flash, to take my photo.


My photo from the Sistine Chapel - July 2016

I had my moment. Actually only a second. I was tapped on my shoulder by a security guard and was told no photos allowed. I explained I did not use a flash. He said very abruptly "Turn it off." When he left I turned quickly to sneak a photo of the back wall which had Michelangelo's The Last Judgment. As I snapped the photo the guard returned and said to me "Turn off NOW." So I did. And I departed the chapel after having a very special moment with the arts. I can't help but feel my seventh grade art teachers spirit was guiding that guard to me just to harass me once more. But my eight grade art teacher was there also standing next to me smiling.


Michelangelo's Final Judgement in the Sistine Chapel

Posted by littlesam1 06:24 Archived in Italy Tagged art italy rome michelangelo sistine_chapel the_vatican the_final_judgement school_memories the_agony_and_the_ecstasy charleton_heston mayfair_theater_baltimore_maryl

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I took my grandson to the Sistine Chapel - did not take any photos. My sister had a special Tauck tour and photos were allowed.

As for HS - my husband and I met in the band. We were 2nd clarinets. we didn't do editions.
First clarinets could really play. Second clarinets were those who came to practice and behaved. Third clarinets were just generally unreliable.

by greatgrandmaR

we didn't do editions. (should be AUditions)

by greatgrandmaR

They did have after hour tours when I was there that allowed photos also. I just the general admission pass. There was no line outside the day I went which I know is unusual. But of course it was crowded inside. They really kind of rushed us into the chapel and then rushed us out to keep the crowd moving.

by littlesam1

It's wonderful what a good teacher can do for you!

by ToonSarah

Fantastic you got that 8th grade teacher! Wonderful write-up, I enjoyed reading it so much. I was in the Sistine Chapel, well, I guess about 25 years ago. Same feeling being there though as you had. But luckily I didn't get that tap on the shoulder ;-) No matter really, as it is engraved in my mind, no matter what.

by sim1travels

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