Something new, something old

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 16, 2013

LANDIS — Ed Hudson took one painting class and dropped out. Let’s say he didn’t take well to some of the early instruction on landscapes.
“I said the heck with that,” he recalls. “The sky is mine. I’ll paint it the way I want to.”
Hudson, 78, took up painting about five years ago, because he always has the itch to try something new.
“The only thing slow about me is my paycheck,” he says.
Lately, Hudson has been playing the harmonica, the one stuffed in a front pocket, and he also has been pecking at his girlfriend Margaret Rye’s piano.
Hudson read a book that taught him about keys, and he now looks at the piano with an entirely new appreciation. Once he reaches a certain level of expertise, Hudson predicts, he’ll seek out a piano instructor.
Let’s hope it goes better than the art class.
The South Rowan Library does a pretty cool thing. A three-door glass case in its front entrance carries a different display every month. There’s a running list of people waiting to show the world some of their stuff, and this month happens to belong to Hudson.
He has filled it with his artwork, prints and photographs he has collected over the years, things he has picked up at yard sales and pieces he has built himself.
The display case gives a good glimpse into the interests and talents of anyone, and Hudson is no exception.
Many of the items on display relate to one of Hudson’s passions, the Civil War.
He has included a poster of the battle flags of the Confederacy; pictures of President Lincoln and his Cabinet members, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Major Gen. George B. McClellan and the Second Battle of Bull Run; Union and Confederate hat reproductions; a wooden replica he made of an 1861 bullet; a little box holding authentic Civil War bullets; a miniature Civil War-era cannon; and a heavy cannon ball.
Hudson opens the display case to retrieve the cannon ball and attest to its significant weight, which he judges to be about 30 pounds. It’s a mini wrecking ball.
Hudson bought the cannon ball at a yard sale from a guy whose great-grandfather had been in the Civil War.
“I gave him $20,” Hudson recalls. “I said, ‘You made my day.’”
He also displays a copy of a letter one of his brothers found in a book in a consignment shop.
The brother paid $3 for the book. The letter stuffed inside was written by Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s secretary of war. Hudson says it has been authenticated.
The display case also features a miniature Conestoga wagon made by Hudson and a duck and clock — both carved from wood. He included a framed copy of a photograph he saw once at the Landis Post Office. It shows the first Landis postmaster, Joel Corriher, standing outside the post office on July 17, 1902.
For balance, he also has a photograph of Landis’ woman postmaster, which he took outside the current post office 100 years later.
The Esso saucer he has displayed reminds him of his brother Bill, who worked for Humble Oil and Esso. He has a couple of print illustrations connected to Hall of Fame baseball player Ty Cobb, though he acknowledges being a bit irritated with today’s professional players.
“They need a little more character,” he says.
There’s also a photograph of Hudson’s late brother, Rufus Franklin Hudson Jr., who was killed by a mortar shell in the Korean War.
Hudson was one of 11 children born on a small Cabarrus County farm. After a tornado destroyed the barn, Hudson’s father, Rufus Sr., packed the family up and moved to North Kannapolis. When World War II started, his father enlisted in the Navy, but because he had 11 children, he was sent to Charleston, S.C., where he was part of the shore patrol.
After the war, Hudson’s father became a North Kannapolis officer with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Department.
Meanwhile, Ed started at Wilson School and went through the eighth grade before going to work, getting married, settling down and having children. His first wife died, and he married again. She also passed away. Hudson has four children and six grandchildren.
He worked 32 years for Cannon Mills. He started as a sweeper, then graduated to an oiler and head loom fixer.
On weekends, Hudson also manned some shifts as a plant security officer.
Hudson would work security an additional 18 years for the Collins & Aikman plant in Concord — “the best employer I ever had,” he says.
Collins & Aikman encouraged him to take classes in the basement of its Concord facility to earn his GED. So as a 60-year-old, Hudson earned his high school diploma.
Hudson doesn’t see age as an obstacle. Rather, he embraces the days as he approaches 80.
“I may have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night,” he says, chuckling.
But back to the display case.

Hudson has included his water-color interpretations of the four seasons — something he painted for Margaret, he says. But he prefers ships and sea scenes.
His favorite is “Three Little Ships,” but he also has included “Old Salty” and “Storm at Sea.”
Hudson’s art will never hang in the Louvre in Paris, but it comes from his head and heart. “That’s me,” he says, referring to where the ideas come from.
Still, Hudson has a good eye and appreciation for the masters. His display case includes two Rembrandt prints, purchased by his sister while she lived in Europe.
At one end of the library’s display case, Hudson also has placed the reproduction of Thomas Gainsborough’s masterpiece, “The Blue Boy.” On the other end, at the same level, he has displayed Thomas Lawrence’s portrait of “Pinkie,” which is actually paired with “The Blue Boy” at the Huntington museum in San Marino, Calif.
Yes, Hudson has a style. He loves hats. On this day, he’s wearing a straw fedora with a black band, into which he has stuck a bright green feather.
What’s next on Hudson’s artistic horizon? He has bought a guitar and is having it newly strung.
“I’m going to learn to play it,” he promises. “It doesn’t take much to fascinate me.”
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or