Trading Talents - caution 'wordy'

31 comments
For a while I've toyed with the idea of wanting to set up a "trade" system between "us girls" that we associate with online but the complexity is more than I can fathom. It would be nice to advertise our skills or products and make trades with others based on what we do best.

My friend Jan is a painter. A very talented painter. She also sews and quilts among other things. But lucky for me she has traded her skills for mine and I've been the recipient of two of Jan's paintings in exchange for quilts.
This is the 2nd painting from Jan that was recently finished in April 2009. Jan had it framed and last week Mr. Hive hung it on the wall in my living room. As you know I'm kind of obsessed with homes and houses. The first painting Jan did was of my childhood Victorian row home. This latest painting is a home on a much grander scale.This Victorian mansion was located on Centre Avenue in Reading Pennsylvania. Frank Furness, a famous Philadelphia area architect, built this home for the Barbey family in the 19th century. The home is no longer there and this painting was created from photos and from a book based on the works of Frank Furness.
The John Barbey (John Barbey owned Sunshine Brewery and began the VF textile dynasty) home is important to me because of the gardener that was employed to take care of the estate grounds. The gardener at the Barbey home was my grandfather, Jacob Breton. He and my grandmother were immigrants from Slovakia in the latter part of the 19th century. My father, Paul, helped his dad occasionally as Jacob tended the gardens around this beautiful home. The home is no longer there now. A city park is now on this property. The old mansions surrounding this section of town mostly still stand with another Frank Furness home across from the park. Frank Furness's talent is seen in many, many lovely buildings in the southeastern part of Pennsylvania.

The home is important to me because it represents my roots and reminds me of the ties to the past in a physical way and it illustrates the value of hard work and the beauty that can come from it. My grandfather worked at the Barbey mansion during the depression when he was the only member of his family able to keep a job and supported my dad, uncles and aunts even after marriage in their meager home on River Road.

My family history is probably not much different than from your family. Many generations had hard times and worked doing whatever they could to take care of their families. But I imagine Jacob liked being out doors. He tried being a coal miner and my dad told me that Jacob didn't last more than a day or so. Jacob needed to be outside.

It is good to feel connected to our past loved ones and in my instance both Jacob and his wife Maria passed away long before I was born. I have a pride in this home even though my family didn't own it. My grandfather contributed his talents to this property and the painting is evidence of the accomplishments he made under his limited circumstances . He walked to work several miles and walked home to the Breton family home on River Road next to the Schuylkill River (that home is no longer there either). I think most of us can appreciate the strength in living that working livestyle, especially right now.

I'm so grateful I have a talent that someone feels is worthy of a trade for an object with this beauty and to create something so meaningful for me. Thank you Jan. I love it.

I just wish there were more ways to trade like that.

-nanette

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31 comments

Suzan said...

How nice to read a little of your family history in this area. I work just off of River Road. Our company built our corporate offices in what was a cornfield owned by the Hartman family. (They owned a lot of property in the Muhlenberg area.) I love the big, old homes on Center Ave. Sadly so many of them have fallen into disrepair though many professionals are moving back to the area.

Jane's Fabrics and Quilts said...

Oh I love History especially family history, what a wonderful painting, how very special that must be to you and how special you were able to trade a work of your art for that. I am in awe of you ladies! All i can trade is fabric!!!

Jeff, Elizabeth, Caleb and Jake said...

I love Victorian houses. I went to Snow College and took an interior design class. Every week we'd go on a field trip and tour homes in the area. We went through quite a few Victorian ones. I loved it!

rachel griffith said...

this is beautiful nanette!!!
one day, if you are willing, i'd love to see the one she did of your childhood home.
how neat!!!

and i ♥ bartering. {or trading as you called it.}
it really benefits all parties involved!!!

flora said...

Great story! I really enjoyed it. And Jan! Wonderful
memento. She is so skilled, as are you. How nice that you have made it work!

Katy said...

what a wonderful painting - that house is amazing. Isn't it a shame it's no longer there?

Michelle said...

It is a beautiful painting. My husband and I have a photo of an old family house that is no longer there. I am glad we have it. I think the trading/bartering system is a wonderful idea.

potsandpins said...

I love the painting and the story behind it - how wonderful that you can now be the keeper of this story! I think you're on to something with the trade thing - have no idea how it would work but it sounds like something to explore...in all your FREE time! Hahaha! There are things I would trade for - even things I could make - just so I could have someone else's talents on display in my home...know what I mean? Anyway, I loved checking in this morning and having you start my day right! xo, The Other Nanette

Susan said...

I love to hear family history; it is interesting to know our roots. Jan is a wonderful artist. Trading is a great way to showcase each others talents and I am sure Jan displays your quilt with as much admiration.

Nedra said...

I can't even comprehend the man hours it would take to walk us all through trades. Very generous consideration, though.
Your painting is wonderful.

West Michigan Quilter said...

What a beautiful house. I love those old Victorian homes. We have several here in Grand Rapids. How lucky for you to have lived there and now have this wonderful memory of it. Thanks so much for sharing.

Muddling Through said...

What a beautiful reminder of family you have there! We are the sum of our parts in many ways, aren't we? I treasure my family history, and I'm so thankful for all the hard work and sacrifice those that went before me made for their family.

Sandi said...

What a lovely home and what a lovely painting of it! Trading is a great thing. Years ago, I had a similar experience with an older friend who lived down the street from me. She taught me oil painting and also fired porcelain dolls for me and in exchange I made doll furniture and tiny quilts for her granddaughter's doll house. Deloras moved away and we stayed in touch for years until ill health stepped in and I never heard from her again. She is still thought of often. I just loved your post because you are fortunate to have such a talented friend to trade with (and she has quilts from you!) but also because it reminded me of Deloras. I think I should do a post about her one day and I know just when it should be. Thanks, Nanette. Always inspiring to read your blog!

Mel said...

Beautiful painting! Great trade!

Fiesta said...

Nanette I have read some blogs here and there where they barter.
It is a good idea.

madrekarin said...

Nanette- The painting is just beautiful! But, I think I love the story that goes with it more. What a nice way to remind you of your family's history.

Lily Boot said...

I'm a great keeper of family stories - I love sitting with grandad and hearing his tales of when he was a boy. His family too lived a very hard-working life that involved sometimes sadness, sometimes great need, and lots of good memories as well. I loved reading about your grandad - what a wonderful way to remember him and his toil that helped make your family. And you're right - trading is wonderful! I need to find someone who'll teach me to knit socks in return for some stitching.

Pat said...

I love this painting and I enjoyed hearing something about your ancestors. Like Rachel, I'd love to see the painting of your childhood home, too.

Micki said...

I loved the pics and everything that you shared about your family. The paintings were wonderful!
Micki

dotti white said...

I love the painting and your sharing of your family history. After my dad retired and when they were still have groundkeepers for the church meetinghouses, he maintained the yards and gardens for quite a few years. He worked so hard and was so tied to it. I remember him often when I attend that same meetinghouse in my current ward! Have a great day!

Nanci said...

What a lovely story! You should put this story on the back of the picture in order to preserve the history of it!
If we drive through Reading...we shall look for the house.
We have family in PA, around Williamsport to be exact...such a lovely State.

v said...

V. here...
I love the stories from my family history too. Our family's are a great source of direct inspiration and it is wonderful to think they are a part of us. How wonderful to use your talents to trade for this.
V.

Karen said...

Family History...there's nothing like it. It gives me a sence on belonging and knowing why I like/dislike the things I do;) Beautiful painting;)

Dawn said...

That was an awesome post!! I am truly greatful for the different talents we have all been blessed with!! The paintings are beautiful!

Jackie said...

Wonderful story and a wonderful home! I just love the old victorian homes. You know that there are still a few of those wonderful houses in the Reading area, but it is sad to see that time has taken them away. My mom also grew up in a home that they did not own, but was an operating farm. My grandfather took care of the home and farmed the land. In this case, the house does still exist, but was in need of lots of repair. The historical society took it over and did tons of renovations and is now an historic landmark. Neat!

quiltingnana said...

what a lovely painting especially with the memories attached...I will think of you now when I go to Reading where one of my sons lives!

Sherri said...

I love the painting...and especially the stories! I think it is wonderful that you were able to "trade" talents!

Candace said...

Such a wonderful story, Nanette. Mr. Squash is from South Jersey, about an hour from Philly. His family history reads much like yours - the incredible Victorian homes and manses of his youth are now either gone or in terrible disrepair and neighborhoods. His Polish/Croation family were also lovers of working in the garden and supported themselves with small farms. Its so wonderful that you and Jan could do such a great barter! I'm all for it!
Cheers!

sarahmurray said...

This is such a special post. The painting is so amazing and the story behind it is so special. I wish this wonderful historic house was still standing, along with some of the landscaping that your grandfather tended to. This painting is a true treasure. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. x

Amanda said...

I loved hearing about your family history.
The painting is beautiful. I like the trading idea, too.

Eileen said...

I loved every word of this story. And yes.. it is so familiar.. since my grandparents raised my dad near Johnstown PA.. and there are many many stories about the depression and how they survived. I just love this beautiful painting, and I too think it would be a wonerful thing if we could set up a trade system some way. Just not sure how.