Tag Archives: Bob Willis

The Man Who Welded Two Elephants’ Asses

My father liked to say with a certain braggadocio, “I could weld two elephants’ asses together and make them stick.” Then he would add with a sly twinkle, “If you could make them stand still long enough.” Continue reading






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Remembering a Free Man in Paris

A street artist in Montmartre made this sketch of my father, Bob Willis, in 2005. It’s based on a photo taken after the war which is tagged “Paris 1945.” I carried that photo in my pocket until I found a suitable artist. The challenge now in Montmartre is choosing just one while evading a flock of noisy and aggressive competitors. In commissioning this drawing I was completing a circle for me and my dad. He had carried a wedding photo of my mother throughout the war, and in Montmartre he found a street artist who turned the image into an oil painting. The price Bob negotiated was two cartons of cigarettes and a chocolate bar.






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Song For My Father

Robert F. Willis (May 12, 1921 – November 3. 1987) For Bob Willis, All My Love I remember walking through snow to Long’s Bookstore two men not at work on Wednesday morning with time to kill before going to the … Continue reading






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Bonne fête Papa: A Flaneur’s Gallery

Paul Cézanne. The Artist’s Father, Reading “L’Événement”. 1866. Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. When I stood before this painting last month at the NGA, it happened to be the day that would have been my father’s … Continue reading






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The King of Swing at 100

Benny Goodman was born 100 years ago today. If my father were here to celebrate Benny’s centennial, he’d surely turn to this music from the legendary 1938 Carnegie Hall concert, the first jazz concert performed in that august space. NPR … Continue reading






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