A Letter From the Publisher — “Thanksgiving, 2022”

November 23rd, 2022

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Dear Readers:

…..I purchased this framed, colorized version of Eric Enstrom’s photograph “Grace” at a Portland garage sale in the late 1970’s.  Since I was particularly frugal in those days, I doubt that I paid more than $5 for it.  It has been a significant part of my daily life ever since.

…..According to Wikipedia, the original photograph was taken at Enstrom’s photography studio in Bovey, Minnesota somewhere between 1918 and 1920.  “The man depicted in the photograph is Charles Wilden, who earned a meager living as a peddler and lived in a sod house.  While the photograph conveys a sense of piety to many viewers, according to the Enstrom family’s story, the book seen in the photo is actually a dictionary. However, Wilden wrote ‘Bible’ on the waiver of rights to the photo which he signed in exchange for payment, giving credence to the idea that, even if the actual prop used was a dictionary, it was a proxy representing a bible in the photograph.  Likewise, local stories about Wilden centered more around drinking and not accomplishing very much than religious observation.” The photo has so much meaning that, in 2002, an act of the Minnesota State Legislature established it as the state photograph.

…..I was young and single at the time I purchased this, and it initially rested on the mantle of the stone fireplace in my rental home.  It lorded over the space – its aesthetic communicating emotionality and calm.  (God knows I needed to find “calm” in my late twenties).    Then, when I married, for the first twenty-or-so years it was the primary piece of art in our dining room, but after the house was remodeled in the mid 2000’s it was replaced by other framed photography – lovely images but not nearly as personally meaningful.  I subsequently struggled finding the right place for it, and I moved it around the house for a time – hanging it in the living room, then the family room, then in my office space ten blocks from home.  When I moved out of that office space in 2020 I brought it to my home office, where it now resides on a shelf above my desk.

…..So this piece has been with me most of my life, and its message still resonates:

Grace.  Solace. Quiet. Reflection. Peace. Hope.

Gratitude.

…..It has become a symbol for my Thanksgivings.  It connects me to my own spiritual awareness and to cherished past times while keeping me centered in the present – a constant in an ever-changing personal life.

…..And it provides me with a reminder of what Thanksgiving is about – gratitude for health and abundance, for friends and family, and for those who reach into our worlds on (if we’re lucky) a daily basis, sharing and seeking affirmation, compassion, purpose, meaning.  Enstrom’s photograph is an expression of life’s beauty, of life’s soul.

…..As time passes and as people come into our lives, and often go, the spirit of this photograph – gratitude – is a guiding principle of my life, and of my work on Jerry Jazz Musician.  It is a goal to express that spirit in these pages.

…..This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for friends and family, for this wondrous music we revere, and for the rich culture it connects us to.  And I am especially grateful for the brilliant creators who seek to share their work here, and to the readers who enjoy these artists’ meaningful expressions of love, beauty, and soul.

Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving…

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Joe Maita

Editor/Publisher

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My office space, with Enstrom’s photo above my desk

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I have long connected Bill Evans’ 1958 recording of “Peace Piece” to Thanksgiving.  I hope you enjoy…[Universal Music Group]

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3 comments on “A Letter From the Publisher — “Thanksgiving, 2022””

  1. Coincidentally my father, a Mennonite pastor in Winnipeg, Manitoba, purchased a copy of this picture, likely at a Canadian Mennonite thrift shop. It hung in our kitchen for a very long time.

    Thanks, Victor.

    All the very best to you,

  2. Joe, thanks for sharing the photo and your writing both respectful of the tradition of giving thanks for the life we receive. Cherish this always.

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