I dropped by to see Mr. White in 1965, when I was a senior at Mt. Pleasant. I had heard about him from my brother, who was and remains a friend of James Newman, an early poster on this thread.
I remember the man and his parallel world as most people here have described it, and what a eye opener it was for me, coming from the culturally constrained suburbs of Wilmington, to discover such a different way of life for someone who, whether by choice or by forces beyond his control, obviously had a very different idea of what mattered. Perhaps there is 50 additional years of living mixed into that conclusion.
Just based on the merits, it is hard to image William White relegated to obscurity, but until someone comes along to make sure it doesn’t happen, you never know. Nancy, you have done a great job here.
WOW, I came across this page and childhood memories a being shared. I used to visit with him often on my way home from school at St. Helena’s and MTP. My brothers and I would sit and draw with him while chatting. He always made me feel so good. I recall him drawing a picture of us. Is this exhibit still going on? If so I must visit. Great memories for many children over many years! I hope to learn more of him. Thanks, for bringing back a fond memory that I had forgotten. I will surely share with my brother, Michael. Roger is long passed.
In 1966, I was five years old when we moved into a house my father built on the corner of Hanover Road and Woodland Drive but it wasn’t until a few years later that my friends who lived on Brighton Road and I met Mr. White. We were always curious about the old man, somewhat hunched over, walking down Marsh Road with his bag of items he purchased from Browns Drug Store around the corner on Philadelphia Pike. During visits to his dwelling with my friends, I remember crayons or pastels with paper sitting on a low table in front of his bed/sofa. I also remember the inside of the dwelling being somewhat “smokey” not from cigarettes but more from the fireplace that was burning in the room below. He must have inspired me in some way as my own interest in art grew, later in life becoming an Art Director after graduating from U of D with a major in Visual Communications. I think in some way he inspired many kids in the neighborhood whether they realized it or not, he definitely was not the “scary” old man we were told about from the older kids. I’ve talked to many people living in the area over the years and I understand the foundation to his dwelling is still there but sadly has been filled in with leaves and yard waste. Thank you Ms. Willis for bringing such an important part of North Hills back to life.
I became acquainted with Mr. White during the 1950s, as a youngster whose appreciation for talent was yet to be kindled. It was his rustic lifestyle that captured my interest, and he kindly indulged it. I count him among the many good souls who shaped the wholesome environment that nurtured me.
I am grateful to Nancy Carol Willis for the opportunity to revisit Mr. White – with an appreciation for his talent and for his essential goodness.
Barbara… I’m so glad that YOU sent the info about this wonderful news to Betsy Richardson, who sent it to me. I’m trying to find as many retirees, here in Sarasota and the Boca Grande area, who may have known Mr. White. I’m hoping that we kids who used to gather to paint and learn from him, will all be able to be at the Grand Opening of this Exhibit in Dover on March 6th. Remember how he used to allow us to bury our dead pets,in shoe boxes, in his back yard? I’m looking for the pencil drawing or pen and ink one, of the girl in the red shirt and blue jeans here on the website. I’m almost positive that is Judy and somewhere in my treasures here, I have the original drawing, I HOPE! Thank you Nancy for doing this heroic, historic and massive undertaking!
Thank you, Nancy, for honoring the legacy of William D. White, and showing his remarkable work in your exhibit. I, Barb Derrickson, lived on the corner of Marsh Road and Weldin Lane, and grew up spending valuable time “creating” at Mr. White’s house. We kids drew with art materials provided by Mr. White, or made huts and hotels from the weeds and vines in his yard. We rode bean pole “horses”, and named them after our cowboy hero’s horse. Mr. White cheered us on with our imaginations! At the holidays we all vied to take Mr. White a plateful of our delicious Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. Several of us also begged a free Christmas tree at the local hardware store and snuck it into Mr. White’s house when we saw him leave. Then we decorated it with our handmade ornaments and gifts…..we were so excited for him to discover the holiday came to his house, too! The neighborhood kids claimed the artist’s home as their haven after school and in the summer. He gave of his time and talent to encourage creativity in youngsters, and we all loved that true gentle-man. ( email: firstname.lastname@example.org The “required fields” above are not working)
Nancy..very interesting history on Wm White,,Excellent effort on compiling his work..good luck on the showing,,I believe I have one of his seascapes..Will try to send email later A.G. will also call for more history..Keep up the remarkable Task.407 331-4375
OMGosh… I am so excited to hear that someone is bringing Mr. White back to life! I am one of the band of children who lived in the neighborhood and would visit Mr. White’s house/studio frequently … to bury our pets in his backyard, in shoe boxes, to sit on his smoke-filled bed to just chat about our lives, as he drew our caricatures. He was such a fascinating person, a kind, gentle hermit and he seemed to have the approval of all the parents in the neighborhood, so there was never a worry about all of us children visiting him at any time. I can’t imagine this ever happening in today’s suspicious world, but what a wonderful friend he was. In 1954,my family moved to an 88 acre farm in Chesapeake City,MD when I was nine, so all my visits to his remarkable adobe shack were before that year. We had no television, so I would frequently sneak down to Jeanie Derrickson’s house on Marsh Rd. to watch Hopalong Cassidy type shows, till the sun started to go home, but mostly we would go visit Mr. White and draw with his chalks and stubby pencils. My dad worked for the Textile Fibers Division of DuPont and I think Mr. White also did some illustrations for the DuPont Co. I’m very interested in coming up to see your show, and I know that somewhere around my home, here in Sarasota, FL I have some of Mr. White’s drawings. Your painting of the girl in the red shirt, I would bet, is my older sister, Judy. I think I have a pencil drawing of that still. Best wishes with your project, I’d love to chat with you about it! Jane Staudt
I and my 3 siblings grew up in a house that our dad built on a lot purchased from Mr.White (or his mother) and located just one lot down from Mr.White’s home on Weldin Lane, off of Marsh Rd. As kids, we often visited with Mr. White and greatly admired his work and enjoyed his very friendly manner. I’ll never forget returning home from my first day of school to find the fire dept futiley atttempting to save part of the White’s home, which had just burned to the ground.
I purchased a sketch today at an antique store. It is signed “To my friend Jack, W. D. White”. It looks like a date of January 2, 1927. I don’t know if this is the same artist. It is of an African American man pulling a 2 wheeled cart loaded with belongings. There is also a dog in the sketch as well. The paper is torn, but framed by Hardcastles Gallery. Please contact me. I do have a photo of it on my IPad that I can email to you. Thanks, Sheila Mugabi
I have (I believe) 3 of his pieces, a gift from a friend. The largest is a print (3/50) of Barefoot Beasom’s barn. The other two are (apparently) untitled and smaller. I will ask my friend if she ever met him.
Thank you for undertaking this project. As i was your “across the back yard” neighbor, I too was lucky enough to have visits to Mr. White.
Time with him meant entering a different reality – a place that was much closer to the world in my fairy tale books and yet he obviously was real.
As a14 year old I wrote a really hackneyed poem called ” After a Visit to Mr. WhIte.” I’ll dig it up if you are interested. i still treasure those visits.
My friends and I would often visit Mr. White in his studio which I recall was in a back yard off of Woodland Dr. south of Marsh road. He was extremely kind and gentle and would often sketch us while telling stories. He was always very interested to hear what we were doing in our lives. I remember the smell of kerosene from his heater and his extremely bloodshot blue eyes. What you are doing Nancy is wonderful on so many levels.
“Whitey” as we called him was part of a group of artists who gathered with my father: Victor Thaddeus and Ross Santee to mention a couple. Bill gave my father a glorious oil painting of two children on an enormous rock. Unfortunately it burned in a fire in my daughter’s house.
Bill White was a close friend of my father, Robert Cade and was a frequent visitor to our house in Claymont, Delaware. I have some of his sketches made on 8-1/2 x 11 paper. He often did them with my father.
We looked at the William D. White web site. It is hard to believe you have been able to gather so most information. Most interesting! Lots of hard work went into this project. Good luck in finding more “stuff”.
In the 1960’s I used to visit him at his studio just off Marsh Road near Philadelphia Pike. I think he lived in his studio which as I remember was partially underground. The family that owned Penny Hill Subs gave him sandwiches every day.
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