Recently a fellow artist described a "nothing-went-right-for-me" day at a painting workshop. In the spirit of one-upmanship, let me describe a similar encounter with the fates that started off being merely dismal and ended up little short of hair-raising! The year was about 1980. The show was an outdoor art fair called the Salt Fork Festival held at the Cambridge (Ohio) city park. The show was a tented affair though a few brave souls set up in spaces under the trees which had the advantage of being much larger than the sheltered cubicles and therefore ideal for painters such as I who carried a large number of works under the theory that with a "supermarket" approach, the odds of lining up the right painting with the right buyer were significantly greater. During previous years, the approach had worked quite well. It was our largest selling show. And, any inclement weather was usually brief and mild.

Alas, we pressed our luck once too often. The day, a Sunday, dawned cloudy and humid. At the time, we hauled and stored racks and paintings in a converted horse trailer parked on the site. It was a judgment call. The weather looked threatening but the crowd was good so my wife and I decided to go ahead and hang the show anyway, knowing we could take them down in about 10-15 minutes and store them under a nearby tent if the need arose. At the time we used nine, 4'x6' interlocking display racks zigzagging across the grass for some 40 feet or so. The display was inherently pretty stable, but just in case, large U-shaped stakes driven into the ground secured the racks for most purposes.

By noon the wind was kicking up. Shortly thereafter a severe thunderstorm hit. Limbs came down onto tents. Men were literally clinging to tent poles in hopes their weight would keep the canvas concoctions from being lifted off the ground like giant parachutes in reverse. We'd had time to take down only the most environmentally fragile works before a gust of wind ripped the entire display up from the ground and tossed it end-over-end some 50 to 75 feet across the park. The rain was of Biblical dimensions, the lightning--Vulcanic, and the wind clocked in at something over 50 m.p.h. My wife and I huddled in the mud under a tent muttering Hail Marys (and we're not even Catholic), while to our disbelief, teenagers foolishly braved the wind, rain, and lightning bolts (which were taking out nearby trees) to chase my paintings across the park. This went on for the better part of an HOUR! Amazingly, there was no permanent damage to any of the paintings and only minimal damage to the display racks. Needless to say the show ended a bit prematurely as we licked our wounds and headed for home. Then, to add insult to injury, as we were leaving town, the car broke down, forcing us to park it for repairs while my wife's sister had to drive some 40 miles to rescue us. After expenses, we made a net profit that weekend of $5.42.