The Cottage

Years ago my friends and I spent many Friday afternoons at a place known as “The Cottage Inn.” We discussed the week’s events, listened to the juke box, and had a few adult beverages. The Cottage had been open for many years and few changes ever took place, except the personnel working the bar. The waitress was a long-time employee who was very attractive and willing to model.

I just completed a workshop that focused on painting figures in an interior and wanted to practice what I learned.  I asked the manager if I could bring my painting gear and paint the waitress at work, and he agreed as long as it was not on a Friday or Saturday afternoon. One day after finishing a day teaching at the middle school, I hauled my new French easel,  24” x 30” canvas, palette with paint, solvent and lamp into the lounge.  I was able to plug the lamp in a place where no one would trip over the cord, but the light was rather poor. There were a few men in the place, so the waitress was not too busy to pose. Once in a while she had to move to get something for a customer but was always able to resume her stance.

Imagine…a dark bar, a pretty waitress, men who had just gotten off from working at the plants…and a painter working at her easel. Things were just a little out of the ordinary at The Cottage Inn. I was making some progress. Several men came over to see what I was doing and asked questions. But the strangest statement came from a young man sitting at the end of the bar. “I want to buy Ms. Sisson a drink.”

The waitress at "The Cottage Inn."
The waitress at “The Cottage Inn.”

No one had called me that name for many years. “Sisson” was my maiden name, and I had been married for some time. I looked at the young man and asked, “Who’s buying?” It turned out that he had been in my first sixth grade class at my school. I remembered him well. We chatted for a while, and he filled me in on his life since his middle school years. I was glad to know he had done well for himself.

I did not complete the painting at that time and worked once again on location. Eventually I finished the painting and won a ribbon with it. I see the former sixth grader again occasionally at the Winn Dixie. I have not been back to The Cottage in many years but am sure it has not changed since I painted the waitress leaning against the counter in the bar.